Chasing A Big Dream. Quality Education For Kazakhstan

After graduation from university, starting an adult life, one has lots of questions. After university, I have applied for a work in school, but it was boring for me to live on a strict schedule – home-school-home.

It was in the beginning of the academic year when I decided to look for activity and organization where I could have spent my free time with impact, and with the impact for society as well. At about the same time I saw a poster which said “Leadership Development Day” by AIESEC, which didn’t manage to attend, but they were looking for new members for the organization. I passed all tests and as a new member of AIESEC, I didn’t understand what was going on. It was rather interesting to watch how young people, 1-2 course students, were discussing social problems in different countries of the world. The existence of such organization in Kazakhstan is what really encouraged and inspired me for further actions.

The first year of work in international school has a great impact on me because you see their management, attitude to people, mentality, how they celebrate holidays of different cultures. In this school, there were pupils, teachers, and parents from different countries, such as Bangladesh, Australia, North America, European countries, South Korea, and others. Some holidays and events we have celebrated in class, for example, the holiday of Maori people, New Zealand.

In this organization, I was chosen as an intern, who should have an internship abroad. My first interview I had with an Irish company based in UAE. The interview was good, they even offered me more than it was written in a Job Description.

“It was that moment, when I felt that breeze of opportunities, that I could go abroad and realize my potential on competitive market”.

National Team AIESEC in Latvia

Yet, the closeness of Arabic world in terms of culture had an influence on my choice to stay in Kazakhstan. I continued my work in the organization as manager of various projects. Within that period I went to Omsk city on a conference, where I have gained important skills and tools for project managers. At that time I met AIESEC national team of Russia, which showed me what experience the team may have and what is a leadership. Their team has inspired me for gaining or maybe even creating of such experience. AIESEC in Kazakhstan was poorly developed at that time, and I couldn’t choose another country so far. After the conference, having a role of facilitator, I went to Baltic “Energy” conference, where were delegates from different Baltic and Scandinavian countries. These two conferences played a role of a catalyst in my life, at least for 3-4 upcoming years, that’s for sure. I decided to work in Latvia, in international committee of AIESEC in Latvia.

My internship in India with Tata Consultancies

Before I came back to Kazakhstan, I was thinking already what should I do in future – either stay in Europe or move to Asia. I decided to visit one of the biggest countries in Asia – China or India, and to see how they solve life tasks, starting from how they manage to live in overpopulated cities, up to the solution of issues, concerned with life sustaining of city and country, nutrition issues, overpopulation and etc. It was so interesting to see how they do it in person, with my own eyes. A month later I traveled to India and lived there for a year and a half.

If we look at education level and access to it globally, then Kazakhstani children and teenagers have a lot of opportunities, and even if we look at illiteracy rate in Kazakhstan, it’s level in the country is not so high. Rather good literacy level is provided due to many factors, one of which is historically formed events – Kazakh people had partially sedentary life, which allowed them to build schools. At the same time within last 10-15 years, the population of Kazakhstan has an opportunity to go abroad. Parents in these terms are well educated to provide the best education for their child.

Republican Physics and Mathematics School. Astana. 7 “E”.

If we look at such issues within the boundaries of Kazakhstan, then it becomes clear that not every child has an access to quality education. For example, there are about 7500 schools in Kazakhstan, one-half of them are in critical condition, and some of them are called “underfilled school” – schools, where class can consist of children of about the same age, but in normal school they would be put in 3, 4, 5 grades separately. Yet, due to the lack of resources such as books, material base, teachers, salary for teachers, schools have no way other than assigning one teacher for 1, 2, or even 3 classes. And we have many similar schools in Kazakhstan. Moreover, now, when the country shifts from being bilingual into being three-lingual, these gaps only become bigger and bigger, showing up all defects in education, which government tried to hide or didn’t pay proper attention. The same is true in case we observe only Kazakh or only Russian schools, these schools have a large gap between them in terms of quality of education.

What I personally do in order to solve that issue? When I was starting the education on master course, I realized that I really like this sphere of activity in emotional and psychological aspect, and knew that I can change something at least a little, just a bit. During my studies and experience in AIESEC, I understood that there are a lot of problems in the world and you can not solve them all at once.

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

This thought is still living in my mind and my heart, I think that I am as well may do something to improve the world, at least a little bit. It is core and a central line in my worldview and values, I do think that we should at least try to make this world better. Doesn’t matter what it would be, a piece of paper you take from the ground, or the way you speak with a child, colleague, friend, it may be anything.

Everything should be done in time, if you have something that you really want to do, don’t quit this idea, this dream, this trip for later, “later” may not happen. World changes fast, and our attention is not as good anymore, even 5 years ago people had different attention. Considering a large amount of information, which appears and appears, constantly making us lose focus. If we look at the average person, who lives in a metropolis, and who is exposed to different new things, messages and etc, this person starts to lose the ability to focus. Accordingly, some things won’t be done in time, you won’t have your free time to spend on your hobbies or on communication with your friends. That’s why, we have to know proper, necessary things and to focus on them. Boundaries between countries in physical terms disappear, and more opportunities become available. For those things, we gave 10-15 years of our life for: education, career growth, and etc. may be done three times faster now. We can’t live with the same mindset we had even a year or five years ago, we to solve issues in time. Time – is a very important resource for me, I mean the way I use this resource. If earlier I didn’t notice how I spent hours in social media, now this activity has no sense for me. It is just a waste of time because now I know that I could have spent the same time reading a book and increasing the time of my life, because I make my brain work, or do some physical exercises, that may also increase my lifetime. This capital, this resource that is intangible I imagine in a form of sphere. You should know how to use such resource because this affects the quality of your life in future.

Assel Stambekova, Kazakhstan. 

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