26 years of independence: changing trends in Kazakhstan

ASTANA – Kazakhstan celebrated its 26th anniversary of independence Dec. 16 this year. During the period, the country made the leap from the economic and political disruption of the early 1990s to a modern social state with a dynamically developing market economy, democratic system, political stability and ethno-confessional peace and accord. The prime minister’s press service released a report Dec. 17 reviewing the work which has been undertaken.

Photo credit: coinfeeds.com

“Today, Kazakhstan is deeply integrated into the international processes, has joined the main financial and economic institutions and attracted multibillion-dollar flows of foreign direct investment. EXPO 2017, the first OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) Summit on Science and Technology and other major forums were held in the country [during 2017],” it noted.

Kazakhstan has established diplomatic relations with 180 countries, presided at such authoritative international organisations as the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), OIC, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Turkic Council. The nation also hosts a regular congress of leaders of world and traditional religions, joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO), effectively mediated in resolving conflict situations, initiated the adoption of the UN General Assembly’s Universal Declaration for the Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World and gained non-permanent membership on the UN Security Council for 2017-2018.

“Kazakhstan is becoming more attractive to foreign business. Approximately $300 billion in direct investment was attracted to the country over the past 26 years. This is more than 70 percent of the total inflow to the countries of Central Asia. The largest investors are the Netherlands, the USA, Switzerland, France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan, Belgium and Canada,” said the report.

Back in the early 1990s, the country’s oil and gas industry started with 25 million tonnes of oil production, the Atyrau-Samara oil pipeline and a three-million tonne per year export quota to foreign countries. The lack of investments threatened a severe crisis and production volume fell annually.

“A serious jump in oil reserves was made from 5.3 billion barrels in the 1990s to 30 billion barrels today. In 1991, oil exports were approximately 12 million tonnes to limited locations; today, exports have been increased by more than five times – over 66 million tonnes to 36 countries. In 2016, Kazakhstan launched the long-awaited Kashagan project, which is supposed to bring substantial revenues to the country,” according to the report.

The contribution of the oil and gas sector to the economy and social development of the regions is unique. Investments in Karachaganak, Kashagan and Tengiz fields exceeded $121 billion, as their contribution to the economy reached $155 billion.

Kazakhstan currently follows a course towards new industrialisation and production development, reducing the country’s dependence on raw materials. The manufacturing sector is becoming the main driver of industrial growth, facilitated by implementing the second five-year State Programme of Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development.

In addition to the traditional metallurgy and food industries, the nation has 26 new manufacturing areas, including the automotive industry, railway engineering, titanium industry, medical equipment production and solar and wind power.

“The development of the country’s transport and logistics system is one of the most important priorities. Today, Kazakhstan has become a key element of the Euro-Asian transit system. In 2016, the President instructed developing the Nurly Zher programme of housing construction. The programme is set to provide even more Kazakh families with affordable housing,” noted the review.

The nation also pays special attention to the social and labour spheres, promoting employment and developing health, education, culture and sports.

“The country is looking forward to large-scale modernisation of various spheres of Kazakh society. This work will be done under the national strategies and programmes of Kazakhstan 2050, the 100 Concrete Steps Plan of the Nation on the implementation of the five institutional reforms, Nurly Zhol, third stage of Kazakhstan’s modernisation, Rukhani Janghyru (Modernisation of Kazakhstan’s Identity) and 2025 Strategic Development Plan of Kazakhstan,” according to the report.



Kazakh President discusses major 2017 issues in year-end press briefing

ASTANA – President Nursultan Nazarbayev gave a press briefing to domestic media Dec. 22, discussing Kazakhstan’s digitisation programme, employment, transportation infrastructure, the Kazakh language switch to a Latin-based alphabet and other major issues of 2017.

The president also discussed agriculture, anticorruption efforts, decentralization of presidential powers and challenges faced by national banks in 2017. The press briefing was organised at the EXPO 2017 Nur Alem pavilion and was broadcast on national television on Dec. 25.

Nazarbayev said that domestic and global changes during the country’s 26 years of independence precipitated the need for the constitutional reforms launched earlier in 2017 which transferred authority and responsibility from the president to the government for specific executive matters, as well as rights to parliament as the legislative power to control the executive power.

“We have made changes before, because life requires it, everything develops and moves. I believe that we have made a significant step forward in distribution of power and authority. Thirty-five powers, which, according to the law, were reserved for the president, are transferred to parliament or to the government. The role of the parliament has greatly increased, I think, and the role of the government has risen,” he said.

The President stressed the multiplier effect of the 28th Winter Universiade in Almaty last February and the EXPO 2017 international specialised exhibition in Astana on the national economy. These developments stimulated domestic tourism, the development of small and medium-sized businesses, housing and transport, he noted. They also spurred infrastructure development in cities outside Astana and will help it become a two million population city by 2025-2030.

Starting Jan. 1, 2018, the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC), centres of green technologies and IT start-ups will operate on the site of EXPO 2017. NASDAQ and the Shanghai Stock Exchange are already working with the AIFC, and the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank intend to participate in the work of the AIFC, which is similar to Dubai’s financial centre. The head of state also noted the centre will be based on the principles of English common law and ensure the rule of law to protect investors’ funds.

Speaking on the issue of state support of banks, the President noted that the urgency of improving the banking system is associated with the need to finance the economy, in particular small and medium-sized businesses. Meanwhile, the National Bank and the Kazakh government are reorganising inefficient financial and credit institutions. The state will help banks in which most of the capitalisation is made at the expense of private shareholders’ funds.

Despite global financial challenges, some of Kazakhstan’s development priorities remain unchanged. The President paid attention to the transportation and logistics spheres. Particularly, the importance of container transportation was emphasised, taking into account the transit potential of Kazakhstan, the complementary nature of the Nurly Zhol programme and the China-led Belt and Road initiative, as well as the Western Europe-Western China highway and the Kuryk sea port in the Caspian Sea.

Touching on the problems of air pollution in cities, the head of state noted that the government plans to address the gasification of the south, north and centre of the country. Providing liquefied gas supplies to Astana, equipping with electric transport, development of the metro, transfer of public transport and Almaty Cogeneration plant to gas are envisaged.

The main reasons for the shortage of fuel in Kazakhstan in autumn, said the president, were the “complete bungling and omission of the relevant responsible bodies and people.” However, after the reconstruction of all three refineries, Kazakhstan was able to provide itself with these resources and has the ability to export about one million tonnes of oil-based products.

Priorities in the development of the Kazakh agro industry should be the cooperation of small farms, the processing of products for sale with large added value, the regulation of subsidies and the development of science and agricultural genetics, he said.

On implementing the “Rukhani Janghyru” modernisation programme, Nazarbayev reminded of the goal set for entering the 30 most-developed countries of the world by 2050, which requires not only economic and political development, but spiritual as well.

“A country of strong spirit will be able to withstand any difficulties, so we believe that it’s time to pay attention to our spiritual development,” Nazarbayev noted.

The President also shared his expectations for the 100 New Faces of Kazakhstan project, which tells the stories of mostly young people who have achieved incredible success in music, painting, science and other fields.

The Tugan Zher projects for the revival of the Small Homeland, 100 New Textbooks and Sacred Geography of Kazakhstan projects are all part of the Rukhani Janghyru programme.

The transition of the Kazakh language to the Latin alphabet was also addressed at the press briefing. Currently, there is an approved version of the alphabet, but work is being done to improve and implement it. At the same time, the head of state drew attention to the fact that the Cyrillic alphabet in Kazakhstan will be preserved, as it is naturally used to write in Russian, which enjoys a constitutional status in the country, and given the continued implementation of the tri-lingual education in Kazakh schools.

The President stressed that now schools are switching to new teaching programmes, on which the level of teachers’ salaries depends. They will be able to receive a 30 percent higher salaries. In 2016, the salary of teachers, doctors and civil servants increased by 30 percent. At the beginning of 2018, there will be an increase of 36 percent, in 2018-2019 by 50 percent. A similar trend will be established in Kazakh clinics and hospitals, whose effective staff can earn more.

During discussions on installing monuments and renaming facilities, including the Furmanov street in Almaty which was recently named after Nazarbayev by the local authorities, the President said that he gave his consent only to the appropriation of his name to Nazarbayev University. At the same time, he had fully agreed with the author’s opinion of one of the numerous letters addressed to him: “Nazarbayev does not need stone monuments, since he built the capital.”

“I always oppose it, we have to remain in history with the achievements, and, we all know well from history what happens to monuments with the passage of time,” he said.

Nazarbayev also outlined the primary challenges to transitioning to a new pension system and compulsory medical insurance. At the same time, he noted the need to take into account people who cannot make contributions such aschildren, those with physical or mental challenges and students. Nazarbayev said pension savings were united in the Single Accumulative Pension Fund to ensure their integrity under the control of the state.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, the size of pension payments for age and length of service will be increased by 8 percent. In addition, the appointment of a basic pension will be carried out according to a new method – depending on the length of participation in the pension system. All retired pensioners will receive a one-off recalculation of the basic pension.

Commenting on the housing issue, the President noted that “all countries have a housing problem, it has always been and will be there.” However, Kazakhstan’s financial mechanisms provide an opportunity to acquire housing through savings with concessional lending, rent with subsequent repurchase and without the right to buy out, individual housing construction, including in the framework of the Nurly Zher Programme.

The President also touched on anticorruption efforts, labour migration, the transition to a green economy and the implementation of the Digital Kazakhstan programme. A special digitalisation forum which will bring together representatives from Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and other countries is planned in Almaty in February.

In addressing foreign policy, Nazarbayev spoke about relations with Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well his famous anti-nuclear weapons stance.



Yandex.Lyceum launches in Kazakhstan – The Astana Times

ASTANA – Yandex, Russia’s largest technology company, launched its Yandex.Lyceum computer programming educational programme in early October in physics and mathematics schools in the capital and Almaty. Eighth and ninth grade students will study programming basics and write an app with graphic user interface.

Yandex CEO Arkady Volozh (R) meets with students in Almaty. Photo credit: informburo.kz

“We want to share the practical knowledge and skills we have accumulated at Yandex. We are confident that the dissemination of knowledge is a great way to make the world better. Education can become accessible and exciting with the help of our technologies,” said Yandex.Lyceum head Marina Suslova prior to the opening.

The two-year curriculum, developed by the Yandex School of Data Analysis, is divided into two parts – the basics of Python programming and fundamentals of industrial programming. Each course lasts a full academic year and must be taken sequentially.

Programming skills are necessary not just for those who want to work in the IT sector, according to Suslova. Young qualified personnel with practical experience in advanced technologies are in demand in all fields.

“The Yandex.Lyceum project is the company’s initiative, but we launch the projects if there’s great interest and support from local educational partners,” she said.

Marina Suslova Photo credit Today.kz

Marina Suslova. Photo credit: today.kz

After testing the pilot project in several Russian cities last year, the company received a number of proposals to open schools in other urban areas.

“Currently, the education process is in full swing. The students perform tasks in the classroom and at home. At the end of the course, they should know the types of data and be able to work with them. The programme is not focused on preparing for Olympiads or competitions. It is aimed at creating a child’s thought process so that he or she can use the operators and solve problems. Python is good at making mobile applications and problem solving,” said Astana Yandex.Lyceum coordinator Gulnur Aubakirova in an Oct. 26 interview.

The course involves rigorous selection procedures for local teachers, who are Olympiad prize winners with extensive knowledge and experience. They will participate in trainings throughout the school year, including educational seminars, webinars and a series of test works.

“Children are very enthusiastic and do all the tasks properly. They are so motivated. We did a mailing to all schools about the audition at the beginning of the school year. More than 200 applications were submitted and 30 students were enrolled. We already have those who want to take part in next year’s audition,” she added.

The courses are free of charge. Classes are held twice a week and can be combined with the school programme. Students must pass an online test designed to test the individual’s ability to think logically and analytically and then be interviewed.

The pilot project was implemented in four cities last year. Currently, there are 60 lyceums in 27 Russian and Armenian cities and two schools in Kazakhstan.

Yandex.Lyceum was developed with the participation of School of Data Analysis, a Yandex educational project. The more than 600 specialists who have studied there since 2007 are now working in IT companies in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and other countries.



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.