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|Problem Statement |
The secondary education in Kazakhstan suffers from the lack of state school buildings. Specifically the number of secondary schools in the Republic falls down every year . There are 112 three-shift schools and one four-shift school in the country . This problem has become so serious that it was mentioned by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan in his annual address this year where he stated that the number of schools must be increased by 2017 .
Unless the established problem is given required attention it might have several negative consequences for the society. First of all, this will cause fall down of school-aged children literacy. Secondly, there might not be opportunities and access for children to get the secondary education. And thirdly, it might cause “parents fears” leading to social tension.
The given paper covers essential causes of the issue, alternative ways of its solution, and how the stakeholders are involved.
Causes of the problem
One of the reasons why there are less schools in our country is their deterioration. As a result, school buildings are dangerous or even impossible to use in the teaching process. For example, there are regions with significant rate of schools in poor condition: in Kyzylorda region - 11.7%, East Kazakhstan - 9.3%, Zhambyl - 7%, and Atyrau - 5.6% .
The other major reason of the problem is that financial contribution to construction of school facilities is not attractive for non-state bodies. It means that different groups of stakeholders: business companies, NGOs, private funds, etc., prefer to invest their money in domains with much shorter payback period and a higher rate of return. For example, the total area of new buildings put into operation in January-June 2014 in Almaty was 671.0 square meters in the amount of investments equal to 48301.7 mln. tenge. However, in the field of health and education only one hospital was put into service at the same period in 2014 .
The third significant cause is corruption at different levels of schools construction. One of the most common types of corruption-related crimes in the initial phase of selecting a building constructor is the so-called “otkat” – a kind of financial misconduct when a prospective building company bribes decision-making persons for getting the right to win funding and building an object. That is what happened to an Adviser to Pavlodar region Akim Tolegen Bastenov .
Another crucial point of misconduct on the level of school construction is misappropriation of budgeting funds. That may lead to failing implementation of state programs and causes financial harm to the government. So, the Financial Police in the RK initiated 90 criminal cases for the implementing breakdowns in the “100 schools, 100 hospitals” program .
As for the question of being affected by the mentioned issue different groups of stakeholders will be influenced in various way.
There are three main groups of stakeholders: (i) decision-makers, (ii) suppliers, and (iii) consumers. The group of the decision-making stakeholders includes local authorities (local akimats, local educational departments), Board of Trustees (community representatives, experts in the building sphere, parents, investors, etc.). The second group consists of business companies, NGOs, private funds, sponsors etc. The group of consumers is represented by parents and children. Stakeholders suggest relevant ideas and ways to solve the issue on lack of schools. A policy maker, which is the government, considers and approves them.
For successful solution of the given problem it is significant to realize what impact the issue has on the different actors. Table 1 Stakeholders group analysis in appendix 1 summarizes stakeholders’ groups’ analysis in terms of involvement degree, interests in the issue, power and influence, position and attitude.
As the result of the existing problem, the first group of stakeholders loses the degree of trust and authority in the eyes of the local community. It leads to the increase of social tension. The group of suppliers is affected by the issue in the long-term perspective. Their business may be negatively affected by social tension consequences. As for the consumers, they are a mostly affected group of stakeholders. Children might have less access to free educational services. Parents have to pay for their children’s study in private schools. All these factors might lead to social tension and dissatisfaction with the work of the government.
Each of these groups has different levels of influence on policy process. The most powerful are the local authorities. Due to the decentralization they have access to local budget and administrative resources. The suppliers have less juridical power but more financial possibilities. The third group makes the decision-makers take into account the existing problem. Mostly they use mass media and internet to influence the decision makers.
The group of Consumers is the most interested one in successful solution of the problem. But they have no power to influence the problem on their own. At the same time the group of Suppliers has only financial power in contributing the issue solution as they are able to invest money into construction. In case of Decision makers, they have legal power as they enable the mechanisms of monitoring and controlling the problem solution process. But to achieve more effective outcomes, it is more reasonable to make a coalition of Decision-makers and Suppliers (see Scheme 1 Stakeholders coalitions in Appendix 2).
Suggested solutions for the problem
There are several potential alternatives that are supposed to solve the above issue (see Table 2 Alternatives and outcomes in Appendix 4).
First of all, the option of online education might solve the problem of schools in critical condition. The obvious need for full repair is time and money consuming. To overcome these obstacles online education is the best perspective. It is better to do it on the basis of local universities because they have better developed educational infrastructure.
Moreover, according to the results of the research made by the U.S. Department of Education  online education has much more advantages over classroom instruction in terms of the teaching process. It also gives an access to education for students from different regions of Kazakhstan and even abroad. These steps allow to get rid of obligatory dependence on school facilities.
The implementation of the given solution will result in the increased access to distance education. Children do not have to be necessarily allocated at a certain school building and manage to study in different parts of the country. Thus, nobody has to be stuck to his permanent place of living. It unintendedly leads to the increase of digital skills and ICT competence. So, the deterioration of school buildings does not affect the educational process.
Another option which addresses the second cause will be the cooperation of private and public sectors in the field of school construction . To stimulate the non-state structures to invest more in the building of schools government has to support them. For example, it is suggested to create a “tax-free” regime. It means that investors, non-state contributors will not pay any taxes for a certain period of time.
The main intended effect of the alternative is that there will be more non-state structures involved in the school construction. Consequently, as the unintended outcomes, there will appear more job vacancies; the local infrastructure will become more developed.
The third potential alternative is to decentralize the financial policy to exclude the elements of corruption in the sphere of school construction. At present the centralized system of school construction suffers from a large number of participants involved (see Scheme 2 Policy process stages in Appendix 3). Each of them is interested in a certain portion of the “financial pie”. So, it is necessary to create an independent Board of Trustees. The main function of the Board of Trustees is the total control of provided funds and the construction quality monitoring. It will operate on principles of accountability and transparency.
The intended outcome of financial policy decentralization will cause the reduction of state finance misappropriation. It will be achieved by direct connection between Suppliers and Consumers. Thus, there will be zero possibility for corruptive elements to interfere different stages of the construction process. As a long-term unintended outcome, participation of public communities in policy-making process will positively affect social cohesion.
Evaluation criteria and evaluating alternatives
In the following section the suggested alternatives are evaluated in terms of the following five criteria: effectiveness, efficiency, acceptability, feasibility, and cost, which are assessed by the 5-grade scale (see Table 3 Alternatives evaluation in Appendix 5).
The first important criterion of evaluation is effectiveness. It demonstrates how well the alternatives will contribute to the solution of the problem. As a positive effect of the first alternative, there will be no need in school facilities, employing additional teaching and technical staff. Besides, distance education develops time-management and ICT skills of students along with other academic skills. Still, it has a medium effect on the issue as the effectiveness of online education might be reduced by poor ICT resources and Internet access in the remote regions of Kazakhstan. As for the second alternative, it might be highly effective. As far as tax-reduction policy of the government will attract more non-state bodies to constructing new school facilities. The effectiveness of the financial decentralization as an alternative might be lessened by different interested bodies of the governmental structure.
The second criterion is efficiency. It shows the rate of cost-return. The rate of the first alternative is medium. It is not quite visible and obvious. It might so happen that the process of preparation and implementation of the alternative will take a longer period. As for the second alternative its efficiency is high-rated because the non-state organizations save their money. The third alternative is rated as medium as there still exist risks at the level of construction funding.
The third significant criterion is acceptability. It indicates the readiness of the society to accept the alternatives. In these terms, online education might bring resistance from parents who will have to purchase computer facilities to get involved in it. The second and third alternatives might not be so acceptable as there still exists misunderstanding and a low level of accountability of the government and non-state business structures.
The fourth criterion is feasibility. It demonstrates the rate of action performance. Online education is low-rated due to the low level of informational technology awareness of the population in general and absence of necessary technical facilities. State-private partnership has a high rate of feasibility. The government may initiate a law to start a “tax-free” regime for non-state companies involved in the construction of school facilities. The business structures become more mobile in investing money. The third alternative is medium-rated. There might appear some conflicts between the participants of the decentralization process. Some of the participants might wish to dominate over the others in making decisions.
And the final criterion is cost. It measures the amount of financial inputs spent on the issue. The first solution is medium-rated. Costs for online teaching are lower in comparison with constructing and maintaining new schools. In such case the teaching procedure only requires technical facilities and an internet provider. Still, it might demand financial expenditures connected with qualified teachers training. The low rate of state-private partnership and decentralization is explained by low financial participation of non-state bodies in the solution of the problem.
The problem of lack of school buildings in the Republic of Kazakhstan needs deep consideration. The paper suggests three possible alternatives to meet the causes of the issue. The evaluation criteria, which included effectiveness, efficiency, acceptability, feasibility, and cost, definitely showed the best alternative. The best course of actions for the policy-maker is state-private partnership. Even though there are expected problems in implementing the solution it might turn out the best in terms of contribution to raising government and private accountability.
Table 1. Stakeholders groups analysis
Stakeholders Involvement degree Interests in the issue Power /
influence Position / attitude
Decision-makers high high high implementing
Suppliers high medium high supporting
Consumers medium high low initiating
Scheme 1. Stakeholders coalitions
Scheme 2. Policy process stages.
Table 2. Alternatives and outcomes.
Online education on the base of universities - increased access to education;
- increase of digital skills and ICT competence.
State-private partnership - non-state structures involved in the school construction;
- more job vacancies;
- more developed local infrastructure.
Decentralization of financial policy - reduction of state finance misappropriation;
- participation of public communities in policy-making process, social cohesion.
Table 3. Alternatives evaluation.
Evaluation criteria Alternative 1
Online Education on the base of universities Alternative 2
State-private partnership Alternative 3
Decentralization of financial policy
Effectiveness 4 5 4
Efficiency 4 5 4
Acceptability 4 3 3
Feasibility 3 5 4
Cost 4 3 3
Total 19 21 18
1. Оперативные данные (экспресс информация, бюллетени): образование; 2003-2014 гг.. Агентство Республики Казахстан по статистике; Retrieved from: http://stat.gov.kz/faces/wcnav_externalId/homeNumbersEducation?_afrLoop=363961317520914#%40%3F_afrLoop%3D363961317520914%26_adf.ctrl-state%3Dyhumzr4nk_220
2. В республике насчитывается 182 аварийные школы и 112 школ с трехсменным обучением - МОН РК; 15 Января 2014; KazInform. Retrieved from: http://inform.kz/rus/article/2621368
3. Address of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan N.Nazarbayev to the nation. January 17, 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.akorda.kz/ru/page/page_215739_poslanie-glavy-gosudarstva-nursultana-nazarbaeva-narodu-kazakhstana
4. N 35 National report on the status and development of the education system of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2012. Gnevyshev, Musicanova, Isinbaeva, - Astana: NCOA, 2013 - 166; Retrieved from http://www.bilimstat.edu.kz/images/stories/LOKO/ND/ND-2013rus.pdf
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6. Советнику акима Павлодарской области предъявлено обвинение в коррупции; 18.12.2013, Радиоточка; Retrieved from: http://www.radiotochka.kz/news/full/1364.html
7. Финпол возбудил 90 уголовных дел по нарушениям в реализации программы «100 школ, 100 больниц»; 29.04.10; Источник: ИА Новости-Казахстан; Retrieved from: http://www.automan.kz/161497-finpol-vozbudil-90-ugolovnykh-del-po-narushenijam.html
8. U.S. Department of Education, 2009 A Summary of Research on the Effectiveness of K-12 Online Learning. Written by Susan Patrick and Allison Powell; Retrieved from: http://www.k12.com/sites/default/files/pdf/school-docs/NACOL_ResearchEffectiveness-hr.pdf
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