Kazakhstan, also known as Kazakstan, officially Republic of Kazakhstan, Kazakh Qazaqstan Respublikasï, country of Central Asia. It is surrounded on the northwest and north by Russia, on the east by China, and on the south by Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea, and Turkmenistan; the Caspian Sea bounds Kazakhstan to the southwest. Kazakhstan is the largest country in Central Asia and the ninth largest in the world. Between its most distant points, Kazakhstan measures about 1,820 miles (2,930 kilometers) east to west and 960 miles north to south. While Kazakhstan was not considered by authorities in the former Soviet Union to be a part of Central Asia, it does have physical and cultural geographic characteristics similar to those of the other Central Asian countries. The capital is Nursultan (formerly Astana, Aqmola, and Tselinograd), in the north-central part of the country. Kazakhstan, formerly a constituent (union) republic of the U.S.S.R., declared independence on December 16, 1991.
Kazakhstan’s great mineral resources and arable lands have long aroused the greed of outsiders, and the resulting utilization has generated environmental and political problems. The forced settlement of the nomadic Kazakhs in the Soviet period, combined with large-scale Slavic in-migration, strikingly altered the Kazakh way of life and led to considerable settlement and urbanization in Kazakhstan. The Kazakhs’ traditional customs uneasily coexist alongside incursions of the modern world.
Kazakhstan’s climate is sharply continental and hot summers alternate with equally extreme winters, especially in the plains and valleys. Temperatures fluctuate widely, with great variations between sub regions. Average January temperatures in northern and central regions range from −2 to 3 °F (−19 to −16 °C); in the south, temperatures are milder, ranging from 23 to 29 °F (−5 to −1.4 °C). Average July temperatures in the north reach 68 °F (20 °C), but in the south they rise to 84 °F (29 °C). Temperature extremes of −49 °F (−45 °C) and 113 °F (45 °C) have been recorded. Light precipitation falls, ranging from 8 to 12 inches (200 to 300 millimeters) annually in the northern and central regions to 16 or 20 inches in the southern mountain valleys.
Kazakhs speak a Turkic language of the Northwest or Kipchak (Qipchaq) group. Russian, an official language, functions widely alongside Kazakh, which is the state language. Russian is the most widely understood language in the country.
The population of Kazakhstan is young. About half the population is under 30, and one-fourth is under the age of 15. The birth rate is marginally below the global average, while the death rate is slightly higher than average. Life expectancy for men is 66 years, though life expectancy for women is much higher at 76.
Education in Kazakhstan is divided into three stage one is pre-primary education, second is school education (including primary, lower secondary and upper general or vocational secondary education), and third is post-secondary and tertiary education.
A network of mostly public pre-primary nurseries and kindergartens provides pre-primary education and care to children from 0 to 6 years of age. Pre-primary enrolment falls well short of the high enrolment rates observed at the primary and secondary levels. In the early 1990s, about 70% of pre-primary schools were closed, particularly in rural areas, resulting in a high number of children who did not have access to pre-primary education. Between 2005 and 2010, Kazakhstan almost doubled the rate of pre-primary enrolment across the country (from 23% in 2005 to 42% in 2010), and the increase was six fold in rural areas (from 6.7% to 35%) (OECD, 2014a- The Organization for Economic and Co-operation Development). Pre-primary education is not part of the scope for the School Resources Review of Kazakhstan but it is the subject of a separate OECD review.
School education (including primary, lower secondary and upper general or vocational secondary education)
School education Primary education starts at the age of six or seven and lasts for four years. The duration of lower secondary education is five years, followed either by two years in general upper secondary education or two to four years in technical and vocational education. In 2011, around two thirds of ninth graders continued to general upper secondary education, while one third enrolled in technical and vocational education. Students who successfully complete general upper secondary education can attend shorter (two to three years) technical and vocational training programmes or continue to higher education (OECD, 2014a). Technical and vocational secondary education is provided in colleges (previously called professional lyceums), schools, and higher technical schools. Technical and vocational secondary education falls outside the scope of the School Resources Review of Kazakhstan, but it has been the subject of another OECD review. There is also a growing number of evening schools for young people who left school without completing their secondary education.
Post-secondary and tertiary education in 2011, a total of 146 universities, academies, institutes, conservatoires and higher schools and higher colleges offered post-secondary and tertiary education. Graduates can obtain the academic Bachelor degree after a minimum of four years of study. Admission is based on the results of the Unified National Test (UNT) at the end of grade 11 (or grade 12), which is a combined upper secondary school leaving examination and university entrance test. Kazakhstan joined the Bologna Process in 2010. Post-secondary non-tertiary education is provided in academic (degree duration: two years) or technical and vocational specializations (degree duration: at least one year) (OECD, 2014a).