Brave Dogs Almaty organises charity photoshoots, seeks to expand

ASTANA – Brave Dogs Almaty sponsored its third charity photoshoot in an Almaty mall Oct. 8 to advocate for animal shelters. The event attracted more than 2,000 guests and the community of Northern breed dogs and their owners says the event is only the beginning.

“This photoshoot was very different from the first two, not only by the scale and quantity of visitors, but also by its originality. In addition to the standard seasonal photo areas in fall and Halloween styles, we wanted to introduce something interesting and relevant. The third photo session’s main feature was the photo area inspired by the popular American TV series ‘Game of Thrones,’” said group member, leader and event co-organiser Toma Sumarokova in an interview with The Astana Times.

The photoshoot involved approximately 25 dogs, 50 participants, 15 technical staff, two of the largest elite animal nurseries, 20 sponsors and 10 professional photographers.


“No words can express the great gratitude to our dear sponsors and all the participants of the event, like the sincere eyes of animals rescued from hunger, and we are very happy that there are still such wonderful, kind people among us. They are not alien to the problems of a defenceless, abandoned animal and that they find the time and means to help. Each collar, every kilogramme of feed, every penny collected for the shelter is already a big acquisition; this is a new chance to live,” she added.

Brave Dogs Almaty was launched by Yevgeniya Medvedeva as the WhatsApp Happy Dog for owners of breeds such as Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Laika and Samoyed. As the club expanded, it changed its name to Brave Dogs Almaty. The group has more than 100 participants, approximately 60-70 of whom are active, note the founders.


“We are all influenced in our lives by social networks. Every day, watching the news you see animals that are in trouble… So together by our chat we were collecting small contributions for shelters, but unfortunately it was not enough. Therefore, the idea to arrange a small photo shoot made a real furore and has grown into a big event, which has now become a constant and in demand,” said Sumarokova.

The community has already helped three animal shelters – Novy Shans (New Chance), Kotopes and Fond Novykh Del (Foundation for Good Deeds). In September, members visited Solnyshko (The Sun), a foster home.

“Of course, the list [of charity photoshoots] is not large, but nevertheless we understand that the organisation of charity photoshoots requires months of preparation and a great investment of forces, means and ideas. The most important fact is that we do not intend to stop there and by the end of next year we hope that the list will increase at least three times,” she added.

In addition to public charity photo sessions, Brave Dogs Almaty organises individual photosets. Their dogs are shot for commercials and even participate in thematic parties.

“We really want to share the kindness of our dogs with the world, to introduce people to beautiful Northern breeds such as Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute. We want to say that the dogs are not aggressive, are intelligent and that each of them has its own character, its soul. We want to teach humankind to be a little more responsible and have compassion for those who are in trouble and cannot take care of themselves. Many animals remain on the streets and end up in shelters because of human negligence and cruelty. Making the world a little kinder to animals – that’s the main goal of Brave Dogs Almaty,” she said.

Other breeds are welcome in the group, say members. Socialisation and communication with various dogs are the most important parts of education and training, but primarily they discuss the problems and achievements of the winter breeds.

“In general, those dogs are unique in almost everything. First of all, appearance – thick fur, unusually fascinating eyes and graceful wolf habits. Second, such dogs are insanely hardy. There was one time when a husky team ran for 18 hours without stopping and covered about 250 kilometres. Third, these dogs can withstand the cold weather up to minus 40-50 degrees due to their unique undercoat, which practically does not let the moisture in, keeps the heat well and in summer even saves from overheating. And, of course, their amazing character,” said Sumarokova.


She added huskies are considered the kindest dogs in the world, with absolutely no aggression towards humans.

“A husky dog ​​is not able to bite or attack a person and it is practically impossible to raise it even as a defender or guard. But this quality, unfortunately, has another side, as huskies get often kidnapped because of their appearance and kind nature. Only then do people realise that this is a fairly complex breed with which you have to practice sports, develop and train. These dogs are very self-sufficient and freedom-loving and without proper treatment to them, you risk getting an untamed dog that can escape,” she noted.

Brave Dogs members hang out together quite often during the winter season.

“We go hiking in the mountains, take part in mushing and we just spend time in nature. During summer, a couple of times we went to Kapchagai and, of course, what brings us together is a charity photoshoot. They especially have a team spirit,” say members.

The club has big plans for the future, including hard work on the new photo shoot and developing ideas and the concept of the event, said member and leader Ainur Sanbayeva.

“We also want to launch a small joint project with our dear photographer Valentina Usen for the Husky Help group in Almaty. The project is about a series of professional photoshoots featuring our dogs. Family and individual photosets for those who want to get stunning processed pictures from the master! The proceeds from this project will go to the account of Husky Help. We also plan to visit foster homes. We are very inspired by this idea and at the moment we are working out an action plan for the upcoming New Year’s trip to foster homes in Almaty,” she said.





Education Minister reports on State Programme for Education and Science Development

ASTANA – Kazakh Minister of Education and Science Yerlan Sagadiyev reported on the status of the State Programme of Education and Science Development (SPESD) for 2016-2019 during an Oct. 17 government meeting chaired by Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev.

Kazakh Minister of Education and Science Yerlan Sagadiyev. Photo credit: Primeminister.kz.

Sagadiyev reviewed the programme results for 2016, noting the positive assessment from President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

“The state programme will undergo significant changes in light of a number of new initiatives of this and last year. They are the Rukhani Zhangyru (Modernisation of Kazakhstan’s Identity) programme and transition to the Latin alphabet, as well as the Digital Kazakhstan programme. Finally, it is the Strategy 2025 that envisages the development of Kazakhstan as an educational hub for the Central Asian region,” he said.

Approximately 420 billion tenge (US$1.25 billion) has been allocated this year to implement 168 events under the programme. Since SPESD was instituted, 1,309 pre-schools have been opened and 155 schools built throughout the country.

Sagadiyev spoke specifically about pre-school education and training.

“To simplify the procedure for opening kindergartens, new sanitary norms and rules have been adopted. Thus, 92.3 percent of newly opened pre-school institutions account for private organisations, particularly in the South Kazakhstan, Kyzylorda and Almaty regions and the city of Almaty. In addition, conditions are created for children with special educational needs,” he said.

A five-day academic week was introduced this year in secondary schools. To implement the three-language policy, 30 percent of basic and profiling disciplines are taught in English, while 273 two-degree educational programmes have been coordinated with 49 foreign universities.

“To eliminate three-shift education and schools in emergency conditions, 72 billion tenge (US$215.6 million) was provided. However, despite the measures taken and the construction of new schools, the number of three-shift schools has not decreased due to urbanisation and demographic trends,” said Sagadiyev.

Rather than rely on three-shift and emergency schools, 76 new facilities will be put into operation by the end of the year, 52 of which opened their doors in September.

Higher education institutions have begun electing rectors through supervisory boards and creating corporate secretaries and internal audit services. Eight Kazakh universities were listed among the world’s best this year by Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings.

“In September this year, within the framework of the first summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Science and Technology, the OIC Programme on Science, Technology and Innovation was developed and adopted until 2026,” said Sagadiyev.

Kazakhstan became a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy this year. According to OECD standards, pre-school and school education content has been updated and colleges and universities have introduced 92 new programmes developed with international experts and employers.

Sagintayev noted the importance of continuing the work to enhance the competitiveness of domestic education.

“The recommendation to amend the current programme remains relevant; moreover, it was stated in the President’s state-of-the-nation address this year, where special emphasis was placed on changing the education system. Therefore, within the framework of the new model of economic growth, the role of the education system is very important,” he said.




Twenty Kazakh remedial schools receive modern equipment

ASTANA – Twenty schools for children with hearing, vision and intellectual impairments in the Almaty, Mangistau and Pavlodar regions and Astana were equipped with special devices this year, reported tengrinews.kz.

Photo credit: Tengrinews.kz.

The nation has 100 remedial schools which train more than 15,000 children. The equipment was last updated in 2005 and all schools will receive new equipment by the end of the year under the Menin Yelim programme, a campaign initiated by Samruk Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund and coordinated by the company’s trust social development foundation.

Special printers that make any drawing convex to the touch and a magnifying glass that helps enlarge and decipher text are helpful for children with visual impairments and youngsters deprived of sight. Induction loops that transmit the teacher’s voice to the child, additional devices for hearing aids and special audiometres for hearing tests are designed for children with hearing impairments. The schools also received ball pools, materials to develop motor skills and logopedic trainers. The equipment was delivered from Germany, Italy, Russia, Switzerland and the United States.


Photo credit: Tengrinews.kz.

Senate member Dariga Nazarbayeva visited one of the schools to look at the new equipment during a recent visit to Aktau. The regional boarding school welcomes 137 children with visual and hearing impairments.

“We launched this project two years ago. Today, it implements a number of charitable projects; the project has a plan for almost all regions. First, it applies the assistance to remedial schools, construction of sports grounds or equipping existing ones. They take school places and gyms as a basis – there is no need to rebuild anything and spend money, there is only a need to equip the existing gyms with modern equipment. We want to have a healthy nation. Children should be engaged in sports from an early age,” she said.

Remedial schools in the Aktobe, Atyrau, East Kazakhstan and West Kazakhstan regions are next in line.

Menin Yelim aims to support regions and local communities, as the former are a strategic direction for Samruk Kazyna social activities. The programme’s main purpose is managing social investments and strengthening communication among the company, local executive agencies and the civil sector.



UNICEF highlights Kazakh government commitment to improve children’s well-being

ASTANA – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Oct. 5 roundtable focused on the challenges of providing access to social assistance and special social services for Kazakh families with children.

Representatives of a number of ministries, as well as non-governmental and research organisations, raised important questions about providing such access to families and children who face various social and economic risks.

UNICEF officials presented the results of a study on barriers to accessing the services in select regions. The research, initiated jointly with the Kazakh Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, examined the obstacles faced by low-income and socially-vulnerable families.

Kazakhstan recently completed a number of initiatives that have strengthened the ability to target and reach the services provided, said UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan Yuri Oksamitny.

“At the same time, it is important to emphasise that targeting should be carried out not only by strengthening the administrative rules for the assignment of social services and benefits, but also by actively involving the needy groups of the population in the coverage of services and benefits, which, as a result, will solve the problems of social ill-being,” he said.

He noted the organisation appreciates the commitment of the government and its agencies to improve the well-being of children in the country and implement social programmes and initiatives that take children’s and adolescents’ interests into consideration depending on their age, needs and aspirations.

The UNICEF study in Kazakhstan shows there are still categories of children from socially-vulnerable families who do not have access to social benefits and special social services. The factors impeding access include low awareness of government support measures and the role of the social worker, restrictive administrative rules and negative attitudes towards children with limited abilities. Based on the study’s results, further recommendations will be developed to ensure broad coverage.

The participants also discussed introducing new standards for social worker and visiting nurse services using the example of pilot projects at polyclinics in the Kyzylorda and Mangistau regions. The projects have been accomplished with UNICEF support since 2015.



Kazakhstan to establish antiterrorist headquarters monitoring Caspian Sea

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee (NSC) plans to expand the network of anti-terrorist headquarters in the country by establishing an operational naval headquarters controlling the Caspian Sea. The draft law has been presented and is expected to come into force in early 2018.

Photo credit: Zhanara Karimova

“To date, all headquarters that operate in the state cover only the terrestrial territory. We do not have staffs on the sea side. Therefore, legislatively, we want to consolidate the possibility of carrying out antiterrorist measures at sea,” said National Security Committee Deputy Chairperson Daulet Yergozhin at a briefing.

He noted the need to give appropriate powers to domestic border services or representatives of corresponding departments in the field, allowing them to create appropriate headquarters and give matching instructions to state bodies to support the project. The headquarters will be effective for consolidating groups to counter terrorist acts on offshore facilities or sea-going ships or simply to suppress terrorist activities in the region.

Yergozhin presented the concept draft during the Sept. 29 Ministry of Justice interdepartmental commission meeting. The document considers the legislative norm aimed at creating a permanent maritime operational headquarters for combating terrorism, regulating issues to ensure timely responses and suppressing terrorist acts committed against marine economic activities on the continental shelf or naval vessels.

“As of today, such work is completely done by the National Security Committee’s Border Service. If necessary, we interact with other law enforcement agencies, as well as with the armed forces. But considering that the threat of a terrorist attack in the world, as you can see, is growing, we need to create the appropriate headquarters to strengthen coordination. There will be a leader and this leader will be empowered to make decisions on the ground; that is, to declare an anti-terrorist operation. Such a leader will be able to use forces and means to eliminate problems that may arise,” he said.

At the same time, Yergozhin indicated there is currently no background linked to committing terrorist attacks in the region. To ensure safety, however, the committee must take all necessary measures, including protecting land and non-terrestrial objects.

“As you know, we have many offshore deposits such as Kashagan and artificial islands. Gas and oil are produced under the conditions of high temperatures and great pressure. These are so-called ‘terrorist vulnerable objects’ and we must protect them. We must foresee in advance and not decide something in a hurry,” he said.

He added the number of people at the headquarters will be determined separately for each individual operation, although financial allocation for staffs is not provided. The bill, according to the NSC plans, is expected to be adopted by the end of the year.



Astana tests Finnish environmental monitoring system

ASTANA – Kazhydromet has been testing an innovative environmental monitoring technology which Finland presented at EXPO 2017. If successful, the system might be introduced on all city posts, said weather service laboratory head Dana Amanbayeva during a government press conference.

“The Vaisala sensor was installed July 11 on the automatic air quality control sensor to adapt and compare data with Russian-made instruments currently used to monitor air quality in Astana,” she noted.

Kazhydromet has been cooperating with Vaisala Group since 2005. The Finnish partner presented the automatic AQT-420 atmospheric air quality sensor, which automatically measures the concentrations of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone and PM-2.5 and PM-10 suspended particles, at the international exposition.

The main advantages of the sensor are its size and the fact it can be installed anywhere in the city. There is no need to use a separate plot of land, the common practice for the Russian sensors currently in use. The Finnish models can be installed on a pole or wall or roof of a building. In addition, they have high accuracy with an error rate of 1-3 percent, which is the best indicator for such devices, said Amanbayeva. Due to the solar panels, the sensor also has low power consumption.

She noted the importance of having an extra set of meteorological parameters for this type of equipment in addition to air quality sensors. When determining pollution, the direction and speed of the wind and other environmental parameters must be known.

Some shortcomings were also revealed during the test period. The monitoring system does not have sensors to determine hydrogen sulphide and nitrogen oxide, important components for air control in large cities. Vaisala plans to finish developing the sensors by the end of the year.

The enterprise will continue the tests until the spring-summer of 2018. During this period, adapting the sensor to Kazakh weather conditions will be checked, as well as comparing the data received with the data from the current automatic gas analysers.



Digital trends in education transform approaches to teaching and management

ASTANA – The electronic journal system is being widely used in more than 4,000 schools nationwide, said Minister of Education and Science Yerlan Sagadiyev at an Oct. 3 government meeting.

Minister of Education and Science Yerlan Sagadiyev. Photo credit: Primeminister.kz.

“There are plans to ban the printable teacher grade books in those institutions that introduced electronic journals. Our goal is to prevent duplication and significantly reduce paperwork,” he said.

The education system concept includes three main directions – educational process digitalisation, digital educational content and education management digitalisation.

The unified system of higher education management integrates institution’s information systems and allows observing up-to-date data on the status of each student. Applications for all types of science fellowships, receiving reports, registering articles and the electronic address database are also digitised.

Approximately 80,000 films and interactive lessons in three languages improving teaching and learning ​​have been introduced in schools as part of the digital educational content. This year, 7,082 schools received access to these resources, which are available in online and offline mode. Teachers are able to use video materials to explain new courses, eliminating the need to look for additional lesson resources.

Big data centred on all educational databases will be created in terms of the unified management system.

“The ministry plans to integrate intradepartmental educational databases by the end of 2017 and integration of our data with databases of government agencies is planned in 2018,” said Sagadiyev.

Minister of Information and Communications Dauren Abayev spoke about the ministry’s tasks to introduce digital education in info-communication.

Minister of Information and Communications Dauren Abayev Photo credit Primeminister.kz

Minister of Information and Communications Dauren Abayev. Photo credit: Primeminister.kz.

“The Digital Kazakhstan state programme developed by the ministry also includes human capital development. The programme intends to build a creative society by developing the skills and competencies of the individuals necessary to expand opportunities to take advantage of digitalisation to train specialists in the field of information and communication technologies for the economy,” he noted.

The Ministry of Education and Science implements eight economic sector programmes for specialists in information and communication technology. The direction will provide opportunities to establish contacts between the education system and employers and strengthen the role of educational institutions to boost economic growth.

The two governmental bodies are collaborating to transfer the Ministry of Education and Science’s information systems to virtual servers, said Abayev.

Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev set the task of developing a plan in cooperation with the akims (local governors) to connect regional schools to high-speed Internet.




Entrepreneurship plays role in helping to socially rehab former prisoners and probationers

ASTANA – Some of the actions planned to help socially rehabilitate former prisoners and citizens in probation were reviewed by Minister of Internal Affairs Kalmukhanbet Kassymov during the Sept. 25 Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) government hour.

The government is not only interested in providing vocational training, but also in employing convicts while they serve their sentences, he said. Enbek, the state enterprise under the jurisdiction of the penitentiary system committee, is currently handling the issue.

“The production and potential of our enterprises are not great; the existing conditions are tough. Today, with a competitive market economy, it is hard to achieve full employment of the convicts. However, this problem is being purposefully solved,” he added.

Kassymov reported entities within the correctional enterprises have mastered producing metalworking and woodworking products, construction materials, garments and other goods. Manufacturing agricultural items has been established in a number of institutions. The production scale is just enough to meet the needs of the correctional system.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are involved in operations of the enterprises within the correctional institutions. Since last year, 274 SMEs have been transferred to the management of former unoccupied productive enterprise areas, where currently more than 3,000 convicts are employed. Thirty-four convicts have exercised their rights for running a business and became entrepreneurs. Some convicts are engaged in household work and serve at the correctional institution they are in. Currently, 68 percent of the convicts who are able to work are provided with paid positions. This enables them to pay for various claims such as damages, alimony and fines, as well as send material help to their families,” he said.

Developing entrepreneurship in correctional institutions is not the only way business and the institutions are connected. The Ministry of Internal Affairs developed a plan to introduce electronic bracelets for probation control which is completely reoriented towards Kazakh business. The programme is expected to be realised in 2018 as part of a larger project of partnership between the state and private sector.

“We are planning the introduction and use of electronic monitoring of people who are on probation control. This is about the introduction of so-called ‘electronic bracelets.’ Annually, approximately 6,000 people will be under control via those bracelets,” said Kasssymov.

He added the ministry refused to purchase the bracelets due to the expense for the budget.

“We were offered Russian and Israeli bracelets. However, who will deal with post-purchase service and maintenance? Who will do this? We followed a different path. A factory with Japanese equipment was built in Talgar and this programme is going through expertise now,” he said.




New prisons will burden Kazakh budget, official says

ASTANA – Kazakhstan has abandoned plans to build new prisons as part of the public-private partnership (PPP) due to the high cost of the project, said Minister of Internal Affairs Kalmukhanbet Kassymov during a recent Mazhilis government hour.

Kalmukhanbet Kassymov

He addressed “measures taken by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and local executive bodies to implement the comprehensive strategy for the social rehabilitation of citizens who have been freed from prisons and are on the probation service record in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2017-2019,” noting they will cut previously-planned costs in half.

“We worked out the option of building a new prison using the public-private partnership mechanism in cooperation with the Ministry of National Economy, but even on private capital terms, the project was not examined by the concession scheme. It turned out to be very expensive and burdensome for the country’s budget,” he said.

Kassymov noted in conjunction with the Ministry of National Economy, the PPP centre developed a government-approved proposal that envisions repairing or replacing existing residential buildings at correctional facilities with a proportional content from alternative PPP mechanisms.

“The implementation of this proposal will require 50-percent less cost compared to the construction of new correctional facilities from scratch and we already have such an experience. For the past four years, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has managed to almost completely rebuild one prison in Kyzylorda, an investigatory isolation ward in Almaty and also to reconstruct two prisons in Uralsk and Almaty region, which today allows keeping more than 2,600 convicts,” he said.

In 2002, Kazakhstan ranked third in the world behind the United States and Russia in the number of prisoners, but now is 68th. The country’s prisons currently house 35,500 inmates, a significant reduction from the 57,000 detained six years ago, but Kassymov stressed holding that many individuals seriously burdens the state budget.

“Based on the experience of many European states, by adopting the new criminal procedural and penal correction codes, the law ‘On Probation’ and some other legal acts, Kazakhstan is moving towards humanising criminal legislation and expanding the scope of criminal sanctions not related to isolation from society,” he said.



Workers receive $6.7 million in back pay after national labour inspections

ASTANA – As of Sept. 21, national labour inspectors revealed salary arrears to 20,000 employees worth more than 2.65 billion tenge (US$7.8 million) in 1,194 enterprises, according to the press service of the Kazakh Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population.

“As a result of taken measures, including the establishment of rigid schedules and the repayment of wage arrears, the rights of more than 17,000 employees are protected, 2.28 billion tenge (US$6.7 million) were repaid,” the report said.

The companies were fined in the amount of 145.1 million tenge (US$426,800). Currently, work to identify violations in the arrears of wages continues.

According to the legislation, state labour inspectors control the observance of labour legislation, including the rights of workers for equal pay for equal work without any discrimination. They also identify the causes and circumstances that lead to violations of labour protection laws through inspections of complaints and surveys, and participate in the development and adoption of measures to implement measures aimed at strengthening work to prevent violations. Inspectors analyse and summarise the causes of violations, regulations in the field of labour protection and safety measures and take measures to eliminate them.

Their main goals are ensuring state control over compliance with the labour legislation of Kazakhstan, as well as consideration of applications and complaints of employees and employers on labour and labour protection legislation.