Process of Education

The Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan protects the right to access to kindergarten. Children typically start kindergarten at age 5. As of 2004, there were 100 kindergartens in the nation (83 public, 4 directly under the Ministry of Education, and 13 private) and 135 856 children enrolled in kindergartens (or 63% of the 5- and 6-year-olds). All kindergartens are expected to teach Kazakh and Russian, and most emphasize one language over the other.

One major problem has been the reduction of the number of kindergartens, due to the lack of state funding and virtually non-existence of private sources of money. There are also reported declines in the quality of kindergartens including a lack of hot meal or low quality food served and buildings in poor repair.

Primary school
Primary school in Kazakhstan typically starts at age 7 (some parents send their children to school, when they turn 6, very rarely - 8) and runs from years 1 - 4. Classes typically run in two sessions, from 8 until 1 and from 2 until 7, with students either going to class in the morning or in the afternoon. All primary schools are state-owned and primary and secondary education are constitutionally protected rights.

The curriculum for both primary and secondary school is established by the Ministry of Education, with little choice left up to the individual schools. Textbooks are published by independent retailers and must be bought by the students themselves.

Primary school is provided free to all citizens and residents of Kazakhstan and parents typically pay only for extra-curricular activities such as sports programs, music programs, and sometimes lab equipment or other special equipment.

Lower secondary school
Students continue in lower secondary school from grade 5 to year 9. This roughly corresponds to what is called in the USA, junior high school, or middle school. Typically a student in year 8 is 14-15 years old. The curriculum is a general education curriculum covering subjects like literature, student's first language, Russian or Kazakh language (depending on the language of the school in general), history, physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, foreign language, and so on.

Higher secondary school
Once leaving lower secondary school, there are three tracks available. Students are free to choose any track of higher secondary education but are required to pursue one. Graduates of all tracks are eligible to enter university.
The first track is a general secondary school which covers grades 10-11 and provides general education.
In addition, there are two curriculum tracks for vocational education: initial vocational education which is provided by training schools and lycees, and secondary vocational education provided by colleges and trade schools.
Initial training schools are designed to train students in a skilled profession. The program is usually two or three years, (typically ages 16-18), but for some professional training four-year programs are required. Students who graduate can go on to colleges for advanced vocational training or attend university. The state pays the costs of education.

Lycees provide basic vocational education to prepare students for skilled professions and includes general academic education. The course of study is three years. The state pays the costs of education.

Colleges give a program that provides both academic general education and advanced vocational education. Colleges, if licensed, can provide initial vocational education. Programs last for three or four years (grades 10-12, 13). Accelerated programs exist for students who have already completed general secondary education and initial vocational training in the same field. Graduates may go on to university or may begin working. As of the 1999 Budget Law, colleges are state-owned and self-financed. In principle, however, all compulsory education (primary and secondary) is provided free of charge.

The curriculum for primary and secondary school is established by the Ministry of Education, with little choice left to the individual schools. Textbooks are sold in bookstores and are purchased by the students themselves.
Like primary school, secondary school is subsidized by the government. Parents only pay for extracurricular activities such as sports programs, music programs, and sometimes lab equipment or other special equipment.

Tertiary institutions
The universities, following the Russian system, focus entirely on teaching and do not engage in research. Students who are accepted to university at any level apply under a specific major, and the curriculum is set by the university (according to State legislation) for each major. For example, economics majors will all study in the same courses in the same order, separate from English majors who have a different curriculum. Some courses are required for a variety of majors and there is a possibility of switching majors but typically classes do not transfer to the new major and the student is expected to reenter in the new major as a first year.

The government is currently pursuing a program to adopt a credit-system which would allow students to study more easily internationally, and to add the possibility of a curriculum with electives and student-chosen courses.

There are four levels of tertiary education in Kazakhstan:
Bachelor's degree -- typically a four-year degree
Specialist Degree -- typically a five-year degree and more intensive than the Bachelor's
Master's degree -- typically a two-year degree, roughly corresponding to the Western master's.
Doctoral Degree -- typically a five-year program

Universities are usually headed by a rector, appointed by the President of Kazakhstan, who wields considerable authority over the institution, approving all decisions including those regarding curriculum, personnel, and admission. Thus Kazakhstan universities are more centralized than their Western counterparts.
The flagship research university in Kazakhstan is Nazarbayev University. Two other prominent universities in Kazakhstan are al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty and L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University located in Astana.

In addition, there are a few international universities such as KIMEP, which is a joint program, 40% owned by the government of Kazakhstan, but education is based on the Western system. The Kazakh-British Technical University and the Kazakh-American University represent joint projects between Kazakhstan and the UK and the USA, respectively. In all three institutions, the language of instruction is English. The University of Central Asia, founded jointly by the Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and by the Aga Khan, is affiliated with the Aga Khan Development Network. Its Kazakhstan campus is located in Tekeli. A number of specialty universities also exist. As of, there were public universities and private universities.

Private universities, typically for-profit institutions, are subject to the same regulations regarding curriculum but are free to set tuition and salaries as they see fit. Public universities are subject to the same regulations as other government-owned organs, regarding not only fees and salaries, but also administrative structure, contracting and subcontracting, and ownership of property.

State owned universities receive funding if their enrollment reaches 86,000 students or 34%. A small number of universities are financed through a budget line in the Republic budget, such as art academies or international universities.