For more than 20 years the students of Kazakh-Turkish lyceums (KTL) have won more than 12,000 medals in the Olympiads.
We present you the interview with Abdurrahman Sel, Vice-president of the Bіlіm-Innovation International educational fund, taken by Forbes.kz. Abdurrahman Sel made significant input into the education of Kazakhstan, as well as contributed to the development of our country through education around the world.
The 55th International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO), held in Cape Town in early July, brought six medals of different merits to our country. Three out of these medals were gained by pupils of Kazakh-Turkish lyceums (KTL). Forbes Kazakhstan talked with Abdurrahman Sel, the Vice-president of the KATEV Fund, who is in charge of the educational part of KTL activities, about the sources of stable success of the representatives of the educational institutions built by the type of Eton College – boarding schools for gifted children.
‘Over the past 20 years since the first KTL was established in Kazakhstan, our students have won more than 12,000 medals at regional, national and international Olympiads. Moreover, more than 1,500 of them are international awards. According to the statistics, every second KTL student has won at least one medal’, the interviewee notes with pride and then modestly adds, ‘certainly, this is not our merit only; first and foremost it is the result of our students’ and their parents’ efforts.’
15 candidates for one place
It is quite easy to explain why lyceum students have good level of knowledge and achievement, given that KTLs enroll pretty much the best Kazakhstani schoolchildren. There is a rigorous selection process in the Lyceum for gifted children. On average, there are 15 applicants for one place, depending on the region.
Selection round goes through the two stages. The first stage consists of an examination in mathematics and logic (a kind of analogue of the IQ test). Candidates who show the best result are given an opportunity to spend a week in the Lyceum. Based on this week the teachers identify the most talented students against several criteria, including openness, diligence, attentiveness, communication skills etc. ‘This year we expect more than 25,000 applications. We can accept 1,500 of them,’ said Sel.
High education standards are integrated with a consecutive study of four languages. In addition, natural sciences such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and computer science are taught in English; history of Kazakhstan, geography, Kazakh literature – in Kazakh; Russian literature – in Russian, and world history – in Turkish.
Such linguistic diversification of the school curriculum is designed to expand students’ mental abilities, which consequently leads to higher results, comparing to other schools, including linguistic schools.
There is certainly big emphasis made on STEM subjects too.
At the same time, the Vice-president of KATEV stresses that, in addition to the victories of some outstanding students at various competitions, it is very important to maintain a consistently high average level of knowledge of all students, as well as to keep up with the times.
‘Our primary task is to improve the quality of children’s knowledge and maintain them at high international level, which is why we have an agreement of cooperation with the University of Oxford for example. Also, in order to improve students’ knowledge, two years ago we introduced a new subject – Project based learning (PBL), which helps students develop all kinds of presentations on natural sciences. Along with this, the essence of the subject is the application of not only theoretical knowledge, but also of practical skills,’says Sel.
In addition, KATEV is planning to introduce new subjects into the curriculum, such as Robotics, and Enriched education- a common subject in European schools. The essence of the latter subject is to conduct various games for testing knowledge, savvy and logic.
The first Kazakh-Turkish lyceums, which opened in 1992 as a result of an agreement between Nursultan Nazarbayev and Turgut Ozal of cooperation in the development of Kazakhstani education, have now expanded into a network of 29 educational institutions, Suleyman Demirel University, Economic College in Taraz, Shahlan Primary School in Almaty and Nur-Orda international school.
In the initial period, the teachers of the schools were leading Turkish teachers. However, with the passage of time, gradually the proportion of local teachers in teaching staff has increased.
‘For example, in the early 2000s, there were only six Kazakh teachers in KTL who taught math, chemistry, physics, biology and computer science in English. Currently, all tutors, as well as almost 85% of teachers and school administration staff are the citizens of Kazakhstan,’the interviewee notes and then adds, ‘our fund also provides teachers professional development opportunities, we organizes them all kinds of workshops and trainings, both inside and outside of the country.’
KTLs – Kazakhstani schools
A recent statement made by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the alleged intention to close all Turkish schools abroad, including KTLs, has caused mixed reactions both among the leaders of institutions, and the students and alumni. However, Sel fends off these rumors, ‘In fact, we were also discouraged after this statement, but we should bear in mind that the elections are to take place in Turkey soon, so in my opinion, these words are more of a political game. KTLs are under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan, thus essentially the Turkish Foreign Minister’s statement does not count in this case. There is no issue associated with the closure of the schools, since KTLs are Kazakhstani schools,’ the interviewee assures.
As for the financial part, the main funding for KTL comes from local budget, which ensures their normal operation.
‘The funds that we charge from the parents of our students are not a tuition fee, but rather a fee of students’ meal and, in some cases of expensive foreign textbooks,’ the Vice-president of KATEV explains, ‘the payment that parents make varies from lyceum to lyceum, because the means of the local budgets are not infinite. In some schools they have to make a 100% payment for food, while in others – only 20%. We also look at the families’ well-being, and those who do not have such means, study for free.’
Apart from that, there is also sponsorship, which is provided by KATEV as an international fund. ‘Our fund is engaged in raising funds beyond the local budgets. We can call it as an extra-support, which includes infusions from private companies of Turkey and aids of our graduates’ companies,’ says Sel.
As an example, he describes how one of the former students fully equipped a computer lab in one of the lyceums in honor of the 20th anniversary of KTL. ‘And there are quite a few such cases,’ the interviewee smiles.
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