Implementing Law “On the Teacher’s Status” and increasing prestige of Kazakhstani educators — interview with Bibigul Assylova

Since January 2020, the Law on the Teacher’s Status came into force, which is aimed at supporting the profession of school teachers and enhancing the prestige of teaching. The Law has many innovations that cover the social and financial well-being of Kazakhstani educators. In an interview with, Vice Minister of Education and Science Bibigul Assylova told in more detail about this measure.

— Bibigul Amangeldinovna, welcome to our studio! What are the main messages of the new Law that can change the lives of Kazakhstani teachers? How can the Law on the Teacher’s Status increase the prestige of Kazakhstani teachers in general?

— The Law “On the Teacher’s Status” is an unprecedented legislative act that aims to protect the rights of teachers, defines their basic responsibilities and social guarantees. The Law was developed on behalf of Elbasy, voiced in the Address to the people of Kazakhstan on Oct. 5, 2018. In addition, the development and adoption of this Law were provided for in the program of the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. There were direct instructions in terms of reducing the burden on teachers, protecting them from unusual functions and excessive reporting. All these instructions are reflected in this Law. First of all, the load on the teacher who works in a comprehensive school is reduced from 18 hours to 16 hours. The Law provides for a separate article, which clearly reflects the rules providing for the protection of teachers from unusual functions, engaging in various work not related to his professional activities, as well as providing various reports that are not provided for by the Law on Education. The employer must create such conditions for the pedagogical worker so that he is engaged only in his professional duties. In particular, the teacher should only teach our children.

In addition, with the adoption of this Law, the material situation of our teachers will significantly improve. Speaking at the August pedagogical meeting, the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev instructed to increase at least two times the salary of teachers. This order was also reflected in the Law. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, teachers' salaries will increase by 25%, and this will be phased in every year for four years. Since Jan. 1, 2020, all teachers in the regions have received increased salaries. We receive a lot of positive feedback on this Law. The teachers really felt the support of the state, that they are under the protection of the state, and all those instructions that were voiced are carried out in full. Every day, the Ministry of Education and Science receives a lot of requests from teachers on the correctness of payroll. Unfortunately, on the ground we are faced with various situations. Somewhere, due to the human factor, they are mistaken, somewhere, they really abuse it. To do this, we developed a payroll calculator together with the IT community. This is an absolutely free resource both for the Ministry of Education and Science, and for each teacher. There is a certain link that the teacher himself can follow and calculate the level of his salary. In addition, the developers of this program created a separate telegram chat in which you can ask questions of interest to the Ministry of Education and Science. In this chat are developers, regional education departments, financial workers who are responsible for calculating salaries. To date, 3 thousand teachers have already connected to this chat and have calculated their salaries more than 1.3 million times using a calculator. There is interest and resources really help.

Any legislative, incentive, incentive measures that are provided by the state, the Government, provide great starting opportunities for teachers. But while society itself — every family, every parent, every child — does not realize the important role of teachers in the formation of our state, society, in raising our children, addressing the situation, regarding respect and raising the status, the image of teachers will not happen. Therefore, this is a whole range of measures that should be implemented in conjunction with Kazakhstani society.

— One of the articles of the Law is devoted to material support. What benefits can Kazakhstani teachers expect from 2020? Can all educators receive social guarantees?

— All social guarantees that are provided today in the Law "On the Teacher’s Status" apply to those teachers who are in labor relations and carry out their professional activities in pre-school education organizations, general education organizations, colleges, and specialized organizations for children and children — orphans left without parental care. That is, for all teachers who today carry out their professional activities related to training and education. As for material incentives, in addition to the annual increase in wages, a number of measures are envisaged that will also be aimed at increasing the wages of workers. Within 4 years, according to our estimates, the salaries of teachers will increase by almost 2.5 times. There are several new surcharges. This is a supplement for a master's degree. There is no such surcharge in any industry. We introduced it in order to attract masters to education and directly to schools. This is a global practice. For example, in OECD countries the share of masters working in schools is about 30-40%, while in Kazakhstan about 10%. For the first time, a new coaching mentor is also being introduced. It aims to attract and retain young professionals in schools. Teachers with high experience and extensive experience will accompany the young specialist for one year. For the mentors themselves, this will be a kind of competition between experienced teachers.

— The teacher can also be rewarded by the state. What kind of work can teachers receive additional payments for?

— Given the wishes of the pedagogical community, the proposals of deputies, surcharges for checking notebooks and classroom management were doubled. It should be noted that until Jan. 1, 2020, only teachers of secondary schools received bonuses for professional excellence. The introduces a single concept of “teacher.” All those who were previously equated with teachers, of their order of 28 items, receive the status of a teacher. This gives an increase in vacation — from 42 to 56 days, the right to take the National Qualification Test, according to the results of which they can receive a bonus for their skill. Until Jan. 1, 2020, about 300 teachers received such a bonus, now this contingent is expanding to 100 thousand people. All those who are currently working in a school, pre-school organization or college can pass the National Qualification Test and receive a supplement for professional excellence. The management team, since it is engaged in administrative functions, is limited in academic hours and, accordingly, their salary level was low. When developing the Law, the functional of the management team was revised, the surcharge that will be paid to the administrative staff based on the results of the National Qualification Test will be increased to 100%.

— How has the issue of providing housing for teachers changed? Under what conditions can Kazakhstani teachers expect to receive preferential housing?

— There were a lot of discussions and proposals on housing, however, due to limited financial resources, there are certain obligations of the state for which sufficiently large financial resources are allocated, investments from the republican and local budgets. All these obligations are funded, so we have provided those standards that apply to educators who have completed higher education and will come to work in the countryside. That is, they are granted priority right to receive a land plot for housing construction. These measures were within the framework of such programs as “With a Diploma – to the Village” and other individual social projects were implemented, but they were at the level of program documents. Now these norms are enshrined in the Law. In addition, there were a few such initiatives by local executive bodies to provide various housing certificates for the acquisition or down payment in the Housing Construction Bank, etc. That is, we have provided all these norms at the level of the Law, since these norms have not been legislated.

— What innovations are provided for in the new Law on the issue of pedagogical ethics and how will this affect the work of teachers?

— The very concept of pedagogical ethics was in the current Law "On Education." It acted, but did not work, was not put into practice. Previously, for violation of pedagogical ethics, there was administrative responsibility. When we were preparing the Law “On the Teacher’s Status,” we looked at how many teachers were involved for violating pedagogical ethics and how many fines were paid by teachers. As practice has shown, such precedents and cases did not occur with us. We introduced responsibility by analogy with the civil service. For violation of pedagogical ethics, disciplinary liability is provided, we introduced this norm. In addition, we envisaged the activities of the Councils on pedagogical ethics. What does it give? Now many issues will be considered by the Council on Pedagogical Ethics, the activities of this Council and the rights of the teacher are clearly regulated, in terms of familiarization with the materials of their case, the course of consideration of their appeal or complaints regarding the teacher. The entire process will be scheduled at the level of the regulatory legal act of the Ministry of Education and Science. The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan will clearly describe the entire algorithm of interaction between the teacher and the Council on Pedagogical Ethics, this will give the teacher the opportunity and the right to protect himself.

— Where and how often will teachers be able to undergo continuing education and retraining of teaching staff?

— Retraining, advanced training of teachers is held annually. More than 100 thousand teachers annually improve their qualifications at the expense of the republican budget. According to the law "On Education", our teachers must take advanced training every 5 years. We are forming a specific list, it is served by local executive bodies. Further training takes place on the basis of republican organizations, such as the Orleu Republican Center for Continuing Education, the Center for Pedagogical Excellence at Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools, the Republican Scientific and Practical Center Bobek, and other organizations that are in a competitive environment and provide continuing education for teachers. In the future we plan to switch to voucher financing. The teacher himself will choose the organization in which he would like to undergo continuing education of his choice. There are no restrictions on continuing education. Sometimes there are such cases: in view of limited budget funds, we plan annually a certain number of teachers in budgeting. There are teachers who can’t attend the courses, and they pay on their own. However, we try to ensure maximum coverage.

— In 2020, per capita funding is introduced in all city schools. How will it affect the quality of secondary education? What problematic issues can this system solve?

— In 2020, 1,151 city schools in all regions of the country are switching to per capita financing. Today, we have already involved 446 schools in the project, these are the schools of Nur-Sultan, Shymkent, Almaty. Some schools have been in the pilot since 2012. What gives per capita financing? What are the benefits? The essence of per capita financing is that the financing goes to the student himself. Financing of educational organizations, schools is fully taken into account, since the per capita funding standard includes all costs associated with the educational process. In addition, the state standard of education is fully calculated - how much is needed per student to ensure his education at school. It all depends on various factors, senior or middle management, inclusive, region. In general, we calculated how much the state standard of educational services costs. We have provided the costs associated with the educational process - paper and other means that are associated with the educational process. We also envisaged expenses related to capital investments, they vary in the calculation of 6 MCI, an average of 20 thousand tenge and are indexed annually. The per capita norm enables the school to plan all the necessary resources that are needed for the educational process. Due to the limited student places in some cities, there is little competition between schools. Just last year, about 70 new private schools for 20 thousand student places were opened in cities. This has never happened before. Per capita financing has allowed business, our partners to open private comprehensive schools. In the future, the development of a private network of schools in urban areas, where there is no shortage, will entail competition between schools, and emphasis will be placed on the quality of the educational services provided. It is per capita financing that will remove many questions - reduce the burden on the budget, on the construction of schools, ensure competition and improve the quality of educational services in each school. The parent himself will choose those schools in which the conditions are best for his child - a full day of school, a small workload in the classroom. Per capita financing provides many opportunities. The plans of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan do not stop at city schools only. Since 2021, on behalf of the Head of State Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, changes have been made in the vertical of financing the education system, i.e. the budgets of all schools that used to be financed from district funds are now accumulated at the regional level. The Ministry plans to subsequently review the budget structure of all schools. And as we are now moving towards per capita funding in urban schools, to evenly distribute funds for students at the village school level and introduce things that will ensure a quality gap between the village and the city.

— Thank you for the interview!

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