Nazarbayev University
Graduate School of Education

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Rural School project presentation at NIS conference

Each year the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools conference brings together experts in education who dedicate their research projects to improve, facilitate and boost the process of teaching and learning. This year wasn’t an exception. The XI NIS International Conference on Research-to-Practice was held on 24-25, October, 2019 in the Congress Center in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. A large number of researchers, scholars, practitioners, policy makers and graduate and post-graduate students from Kazakhstan as well as from other countries attended the conference.
The Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education made its presence visible through its faculty, researchers, alumni and students presenting on various themes in the conference. Led by Associate Professors: Mir Afzal Tajik as the Principal Investigator and Duishon Shamatov as Co-Principal Investigator, the team of researchers in the “Rural School Research Project” presented the preliminary findings of their research study, which was very well received by the audience. This is a three-year long research study funded by the Nazarbayev University’s Faculty Development Competitive Grant, and is being conducted in purposefully selected mainstream rural schools in four regions (north, west, south and east) of Kazakhstan. The study aims to explore the following research questions:
• What do the Kazakhstani rural school leaders, teachers, students, and parents understand by quality of education?
• What opportunities, resources, and support are available to these rural schools for achieving their perceived quality of education?
• What issues and challenges do these rural schools face in achieving the perceived quality of education?
• What possible solutions can be found to the issues hindering the quality of education in these schools?
The purpose of the study is to contribute to developing a contextually relevant, culturally sensitive, and sustainable approach to improving quality of education in rural schools by taking into account the voices and experiences of key stakeholders such as principals, vice principals, teachers, students, parents, and school education officials from the MOES and regions in Kazakhstan. Specifically, the study intends to explore key stakeholders’ understanding and aspirations of quality of education; identify issues and challenges rural schools face in achieving their aspired quality of education; and suggest possible solutions to the problems being faced and ways to improve the quality of education in rural schools in Kazakhstan.

A mixed-methods approach, having both a quantitative survey and qualitative individual interviews and focus group discussions, is being employed. The quantitative survey is used to obtain data from large number of teachers from rural schools and qualitative interviews are used to obtain in-depth, rich and descriptive data from a relatively smaller sample. The research assistants who have so far contributed to this project include, Darina Sadvakassova, Moldir Ablayeva, Bakhyt Zhumatay, Gulden Suyundikova, Lyudmila Fillipova, Alyona Kaus and Symbat Mazhikov.
The results of the study may be beneficial to educational policy makers, school leaders and practitioners to address some of the critical issues hindering, as well as opportunities available for, provision and quality of education in rural schools in Kazakhstan. The study will provide a set of recommendations, based on the empirical data collected from the key stakeholders for enhancing provision and quality of education in rural schools.