Developments in higher education sector in Kazakhstan in response to COVID 19

From March 16 until April 15 a State of Emergency has been in effect in Kazakhstan that restricts entry to and exit from the country [1]. Kazakh authorities have imposed quarantine in all regions of Kazakhstan.

In connection with the current situation, KZ universities and most organisations are working remotely. By the order of the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan (MESK) from March 16, 2020, all HEIs in Kazakhstan switched to distance and online learning mode (139 HEIs, more than 0.5 million students) [2].

According to MESK, Kazakh universities are well prepared for the transition to distance learning, because for the last ten years many of them have already employed various LMS (Learning Management Systems) with diverse distance learning technologies. The universities have used online learning platforms (MOODLE, Google Classroom, Platonus, Univer, etc.) with well-known video conferencing tools (such as MS Teams, Zoom, Webex, Hangouts). Additionally, the universities are using the results of many Tempus and Erasmus+ projects (CANDI, LMPI, ModeHED, LogOn-U, TUTORIAL, CLASS, ASIAXIS): online courses, video lectures and other methodical e-learning materials have been developed through these projects. Also, some HEI have joined the Coursera for Campus community and Kazakh MOOCs platform (http://openu.kz, http://moocs.kz) .   

The MESK has been monitoring the quality of e-learning services and, together with well-prepared universities, has provided support to less experienced HEIs, such as methodological and technical assistance via webinars and training courses.

Along with the measures adopted, our higher education system is facing new challenges and uncertainties:

  • Technical issues: High video streaming speed in online education requires hardware and infrastructure, which needs more investment;
  • E-learning competence and methodical issues: Insufficient level of qualification of some teachers and students in distance (online) education.
  • Social inclusion issues: Some students who live in remote regions do not have enough access to high speed Internet and do not have their own laptops or computers necessary for distance learning.
  • QA issues: Kazakhstan would like to further promote the implementation of the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) standards for QA of online teaching. The COVID crisis presents an opportunity to push this agenda forward.

Sources

  1. Decree of the President “On the introduction of a state of emergency in the Republic of Kazakhstan” 15.03.2020
  2. Order of the Minister “On strengthening measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection COVID-19 in educational institutions, organizations for orphans and children left without parental care, during a pandemic”