Tokayev pays attention to education, science and healthcare development

Tokayev pays attention to education, science and healthcare development

Today, on May 27, the third meeting of the National Council of Public Trust chaired by President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The session was broadcasted live on the President’s press office’s Facebook page, ‘AkordaPress’. The meeting’s agenda was the human capital development, in particular, the issues of education and healthcare.

“The National Council has been developing and implementing important and large-scale reforms for about a year. The national model of the public dialogue proved to be effective. Now we must decide on the agenda for the upcoming period. For any state, the human capital is now the main criterion. In this regard, the qualification issues are of particular importance. Every citizen can contribute to the prosperity of his country through personal achievements and success. That is why today’s meeting is devoted to the development of the main areas of the human capital, including education, science and healthcare,” President Tokayev said.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized that education and science system requires a fundamental reform. By 2025, financial support for the sector will increase the funding for education by six times and science by seven times. In particular, the funding will be increased for fundamental scientific and research institutes.

“We will be gradually increasing funding for science and by 2025 we will reach one percent of the gross domestic product. It is important to note that we cannot allocate finances to the unnecessary research that no one reads. Each scientific work must be in demand and have the real socio-economic and industrial-technical basis. All efforts and resources must be directed to such important sectors as biomedical research, agricultural science, green technology, artificial intelligence and energy conservation,” President Tokayev noted.

The development of science is impossible without the training of scientific personnel. President of Kazakhstan instructed to allocate funds for the annual internship of at least 100 scientists in the leading world research centers. The scholarship of the future scientists studying for a PhD degree will be increased to 150,000 tenge (US$363). This year, the work on the allocation of grants for the young scientists will be continued as part of the Business Roadmap 2020 state program. Three billion tenge (US$7.2 million) will be allocated for three years.

“Particular attention must be paid to the problem of talented young Kazakh people leaving abroad. There are several reasons to it. One of them lies in the lack of competitiveness of our higher education system. Of course, it requires additional investment. In this regard, we decided to increase the average cost of educational grants from 320,000-420,000 tenge to one million tenge (US$774-US$1016 to US$2,421). The cost of the grant will triple. Thus, it will be possible to gradually increase professors’ salaries and improve facilities and equipment at the universities. This is an important step. The size of the grant has not been increased since 2011,” President Tokayev said.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also instructed to increase the amount of grants for the low-income families and socially vulnerable groups. In addition, he offered to make concessional loans in order to provide the young people with the higher education. President Tokayev asked the government and the members of the National Council to submit their proposals on this issue. In addition, the President of Kazakhstan talked about the need to raise salaries of the university professors.

“It is necessary to actively develop technical and vocational education. As part of the Young Specialist program, we are updating the facilities and equipment at 180 vocational education institutions. The program of free vocational technical education annually covers 100,000 students. Particular attention is paid to the NEET youth (youth not in employment, education or training), as well as children from the low-income families, multigenerational families and rural youth. The government should take up the issue of increasing the government procurement for training personnel in technical and vocational majors, including youth from above-mentioned categories,” Tokayev said.

The President also emphasized that it is necessary to gradually increase the requirements for admission for teaching training.  In order to make the applicants interested in this area of studies, President Tokayev instructed the government to increase the stipend for future teachers from 26,000 tenge (US$62) to 42,000 tenge (US$102). He also said that it is necessary to create at least 90,000 places in dormitories so the students could live in safe and comfortable conditions during the five years. The secondary education didn’t go unnoticed. A lot is already being done. As part of the educational program for 2025, it is planned to build 800 new schools for more than 650,000 places, 114 boarding schools for rural pupils and more than 700 sports facilities. In addition, as part of the implementation of the roadmap, the construction of 80 new buildings, as well as the reconstruction of 16 new schools and renovation of 1,700 educational institutions has already been planned for this year.

“The next important task is to narrow the gap between the urban and rural schools. According to PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), the current gap is one and a half years. All children, regardless of place of residence or social status, should have access to quality education. There is a gap between the urban and rural population in a number of countries. Of course, this situation must be taken realistically, but we shouldn’t dramatize it. It is necessary to take the appropriate measures,” the President noted.

Speaking about the human capital, it is important to remember about the healthcare. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev shared ambitious plans in this direction. As part of the Employment Roadmap, this year 24 new healthcare facilities will be commissioned. By 2025, 20 large hospitals will be built under the state program. President Tokayev noted that the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the world is possible. Therefore, the hospitals for the treatment of infectious diseases in Kazakhstan must be in compliance with the international standards. The majority of the initiatives proposed by the President of Kazakhstan at the online meeting were formed on the basis of the recommendations of the members of the National Council. They said that the effective implementation of these measures will significantly improve the quality of human capital.