Turning to the international community for advice, MES called on the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in early 2006 for assistance in reviewing the S&T aspects of the higher education system. A report by World Bank, OECD, and MES specialists, working as a team, was to be completed during the fall of 2006. The review was to be carried out in accordance with a comprehensive methodology that the OECD had used in other countries. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Trade had contracted with the Science Foundation of Ireland to undertake yet another study of higher education, and this effort was under way during the fall of 2006. The study involved distributing questionnaires to dozens of higher education institutions and then carrying out analyses of the responses as background for subsequent visits to selected institutions by two experts and for preparation of their report.
The information-gathering component of the study that led to this report was completed in September 2006. Therefore, the committee did not have an opportunity to review the findings of the other international study efforts. Informal conversations with the specialists involved in these efforts indicated that there will be considerable overlap in the coverage of their reports and the coverage of this report.
The committee was able to make brief visits to only a limited number of educational institutions and to consult with but a few of the many Kazakhstani specialists with responsibilities for improving the education system. NCSTI selected most of the universities and secondary schools that were visited, and these institutions were probably among the best in the country. Consequently, the committee was not in a position to address some aspects of the education system, particularly at the regional and local levels.
At the outset, this chapter presents relevant data and general observations prepared largely by NCSTI about the education system in order to provide a context for discussions that follow in this chapter and in later chapters.2 The on-site observations of committee members and comments to them by a number of Kazakhstani specialists were consistent with the information presented in NCSTI reports and set forth in this chapter. The chapter then raises a few issues concerning the evolution of higher education institutions, the integration of education and research, the special challenges of engineering and medical education, and the importance of international educational opportunities.
See, for example, State Program for the Development of Education in Kazakhstan 2005-2010, Decree of the President of Kazakhstan, October 11, 2004, No. 1459, and Report on the National Policy in the Area of Higher Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan, undated, provided to the committee by NCSTI in July 2006.