Ombudsman appealed to Education Minister in connection with school enrollment rules

Photo of by Talgat Akhanov
Askar Shakirov, human rights ombudsman in Kazakhstan, sent an appeal to the Minister of Education and Science Askhat Aymagambetov in connection with the introduction in Kazakhstan from January 1, 2019 of the procedure for enrollment of children from six years of age to general education schools, which brought up public debate, reports with reference to the Ombudsman press service.

The appeal notes international experience, according to which in most countries of the world, children receive primary education starting at the age of six, which confirms the regularity of the transition to such a system.

At the same time, in the opinion of the ombudsman, the practical implementation of this innovation requires serious thought, including because its failure to comply with Article 127 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Republic of Kazakhstan entails liability from a fine to administrative arrest.

A considerable part of parents reasonably believe that a six-year-old child is not psychologically and physiologically ready for a school load without adequate training.

Article 30 of the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan On Education establishes pre-school education for children from the age of five in the form of compulsory pre-school education, which should be carried out in the family, pre-school organizations, pre-school classes of secondary schools, lyceums and gymnasiums. Pre-school training in these state educational organizations is provided free of charge.

"According to the assurances of previous leaders of the Ministry of Education and Science, no problems with the organization of pre-school education in secondary schools and pre-school organizations were expected. However, practice shows that in most schools in the country this training of children from five years old was not properly organized, with all the ensuing consequences. There are widespread instances of the forced release of children from kindergartens due to their attainment of 6 years of age without providing pre-school education to them", - the statement says.

In this regard, the statement of June 20, 2019 of the Education Ministry that "in the absence of conditions for pre-school training in a pre-school organization or in pre-school classrooms, the child must undergo pre-school training in the family," leaving it for the family to cope with the problem.

In this regard, children from low-income families and rural districts primarily attract attention, where, for obvious reasons, to provide the above training is very difficult.

Another important problem named in the appeal is overcrowding of secondary schools.

The data of the Statistics Committee of the Ministry of National Economy of Kazakhstan testifies to the steady annual growth in the number of first grade children. So, in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years, 358571 and 389897 children were admitted to the first grade respectively. In the upcoming school year, due to the innovation, the number of potential first-graders may rise significantly, since the number of births in 2012 and 2013 is 768409.

In the past school year, almost everywhere, in violation of the regulatory sanitary and epidemiological requirements for educational facilities, the occupancy of classes exceeded 25 pupils.

On April 25, 2019, the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev tasked the relevant department to complete the work on the elimination of three-shift schooling. However, it is obvious that due to the planned rise in the number of pupils in the first grades, the number of schools with three-shift education may increase.

In the summary of his appeal, the ombudsman suggested that the authorized body analyzed the current situation in-depth in order to take adequate measures that would help to avoid possible negative consequences during the implementation of the generally positive initiative. This issue could be a subject of discussion within the framework of the Public Council of the Ministry of Education and Science for finding an optimal solution to it.

Zhanat Tukpiev
18:01, 17 July 2019


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