Medium of instruction, literacy and educational equity in Almaty high school students

Medium of Instruction, Literacy and Educational Equity: Survey of Almaty High School Students – Juldyz Smagulova at the 11th Language & Development Conference, 2015

Juldyz Smagulova is an Assistant Professor at KIMEP University, Kazakhstan

Juldyz Smagulova is an Assistant Professor at KIMEP University, Kazakhstan

Anyone who grew up speaking a language at home which was different from the national language of the country, which was not the same as the regional language of the state and which certainly not was the medium of instruction in their school, can identify with the issues faced by learners in Almaty.

In the 11th Language and Development Conference, presenter Juldyz Smagulova spoke about the challenges faced by learners in Kazakhstan. She showed a world which hoped to shake off the shackles of Russian domination in the former capital city of Almaty by making Kazakh compulsory and introducing English in school.

In her research, she and her colleague Elise Ahn surveyed 2,954 students in 29 state schools attempting to explore the relationship between language of instruction and students’ aspiration. She is hoping that empirical data will help to inform the policy making process in her country.

In a city where Russian-medium school learners are faring better than Kazakh-medium school learners, the government aspires to have 25 per cent of its citizens as fluent speakers of English – this leads to issues of equity, quality and accessibility in education in Kazakhstan.

Judlyn also stressed that teacher-training was an important area that the policy makers need to pay closer attention to. She said “we have the resources but we need know how to teach”. In an anecdote that she shared with the audience, she relayed that a Russian-speaking friend of hers wanted to learn Kazakh and after spending a week with a private tutor she claimed that she still had not made any progress. The tutor replied, “Kazakh is sitting inside you, it will wake up soon”.

Watch her session at the 11th Language & Development Conference here:

Post by: Ruchi Jain
The writer is the Academic Manager English Partnerships for British Council in East India

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