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ISSN 1829-5351
Республика Казахстан

Образование не имеет точки насыщения

Инклюзивное образование



Архив статей 2015 г.


Children with special needs in Kazakhstan: obstacles to ensuring an equal access to education

№ 7 (148) сентябрь 2015

А. Каргажанова студентка 4-го курса Назарбаев Университета, г. Астана


«Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world». Nelson Mandela

Слишком часто мы бессознательно пренебрегаем или даже сознательно игнорируем детей с ограниченными возможностями, проживающих в нашем обществе. Некоторые люди закрывают глаза на существование детей-инвалидов для того, чтобы избежать дискомфорта, который этот чувствительный вопрос может вызвать; другие не заботятся об этом, так как это не является проблемой, которая непосредственно влияет на их жизнь. Тем не менее, дети с особыми нуждами не должны оставаться вне нашего внимания.

Главной целью этой работы является детальный разбор трех основных препятствий на пути к обеспечению равного доступа к образованию для казахстанских детей с ограниченными возможностями. К ним относятся недостаточно развитая инфраструктуры для удовлетворения потребностей детей с ограниченными возможностями, недостаточная подготовка педагогических кадров для работы с детьми с особыми нуждами и неготовность общества к полной реализации инклюзивного образования в Казахстане.

Я считаю, что изменение общественного отношения к людям с ограниченными возможностями, возможно, является наиболее важным шагом на пути к инклюзивному образованию.

All too often, we unconsciously neglect, or even deliberately ignore the children with disabilities living in our society. Some people close their eyes to the existence of disabled children in order to avoid the discomfort this sensitive issue can cause; others do not care since it is not an immediate concern that directly affects their life. Nevertheless, children with special needs should not be left out of our attention as according to 2012 statistics there are 151 216 children registered with some form of disability in Kazakhstan, all of whom need to be ensured equal access to high quality education, proper socialization and consequent integration into society(Jigailo, 2013). At the end of the 2010-2011 school year, 111 405 disabled children of school age were encompassed with education in Kazakhstan by being enrolled in general education schools, special educational institutions, or home education(Jigailo, 2013). Not only were more than quarter of Kazakhstani disabled children were completely left out of educational process, but those enrolled in specialized schools or engaged in home education were segregated and isolated from the rest of society, and thus deprived of their right to equal access to education. However, this acute problem cannot be fully expressed in statistics; it is more than just numbers, a percentage or proportion of population: it is real children with real lives, real difficulties and their own stories.

Vadim Arakoncevyh is an 8year old boy who studies in the second grade of the school # 51 of Prishahtink, Karaganda (Mashnina, 2011). “So, what?”, «What is unusual?» you may ask «about a boy of a school-age studying at school?» However, Vadim is unusual, as he is the first and, for the current time, the only student diagnosed with infantile cerebral paralysis (ICP) studying at this general education school (Mashnina, 2011). Although, the right-side of the Vadim’s body is largely paralyzed, he is mostly self-sufficient: he can walk by himself, and can even write with his right hand (Mashnina, 2011). His parents, who insisted on the admission of Vadim to the general education school, are sure that they have made the right decision, while the school administration, initially doubtful, is now happy to see how quickly Vadim is able adapt to the school and get integrated into his class (Mashnina, 2011). However, Vadim’s successful case is, unfortunately, one of the few examples of disabled children’s full inclusion into general education school in Kazakhstan.

Azhar Ayazbayeva and Azamat Ayazbayev are 16 and 14 years old, respectively. They are diagnosed with spinal amyotrophy, which is a genetic disease that affects a particular group of muscles (Okulova, 2010). Azhar and Azamat are only physically, not intellectually, disabled: they have no mental impairments or cognitive disorders. Although they demonstrated normal development of speech and good learning patterns, they have never attended the general education school: Azhar is educated at home, while Azamat is enrolled in specialized school for children with musculoskeletal system abnormalities (Okulova, 2010). Their mom, BalzhanAyazbayeva, says that have never considered this option of mainstreaming their children as they knew that Azhar and Azamat wouldn’t be admitted to general education schools, which often lack the facilities necessary for the children with special needs (Okulova, 2010).

These two extreme cases from two different ends of one continuum vividly illustrate the realities of disabled children in Kazakhstan: not all of them currently havean equal access to decent education, and there are few opportunities for the development of their abilities and talents, weak possibility of employment in the future, and few chances of full integration into society on par with other children. However, it is not surprising as the origins of this issue can be traced back to the Soviet times, when all children with the special needs were educated solely in the specialized educational institutions, and the notion of inclusive education was not promoted in the USSR. Although Kazakhstan has already expressed its commitment to the principles of inclusive education and has begun formulation of required policies and implementation of necessary programs, not all Kazakhstani disabled children, most of whom are usually getting an education at special educational institutions for children with special needs or are engaged in homeschooling, have an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the inclusive education (Galat, 2012). Therefore, there is still much progress needs to be done to include children with special needs into general education schools, and to remove all major obstacle to implementation of inclusive education in Kazakhstan, including a lack of necessary infrastructure and facilities, inadequate training of teachers and school administration, and the overall lack of preparedness of society. Thus, in the following paragraphs I will elaborate in more details on this problem.

Firstly, the question «Why is inclusive education important?» suggests itself. It can be stated that the foundational principle of the concept of «inclusive education» is the fact that it views an education as an instrument of the creation of equal and fair society, and inclusive schools and classrooms are regarded as a powerful and effective method of combating discrimination (UNESCO, 2008, p.9). Thus, inclusive education can be a path toward greater democratization for states that adopted and started implementation of the principles of inclusiveness into its educational system (UNESCO, 2008, p.10). While, special education, which implies a separate and specialized schools or classes for children with disabilities, provides an education for disabled children, it does not lead to equal access to education for disabled children on par with able-bodied children. It leads to the separation and isolation of disabled children from society, which can be regarded as one of the manifestations of discrimination. By inclusion of disabled children into mainstream schools and general education classrooms we can ensure the proper socialization of disabled children, which can be an important factor in opening of the same opportunities that are available for non-disabled children for them. So, while as a consequence of special education disabled children can be deprived of the right to participate in the social life, inclusive education «is a means to realize the right to high quality education without discrimination and having equal opportunities» (UNESCO, 2008, p.9).

Today, every state tries to pay attention to the trends in international educational policy, and adjust its national educational system according to the developments in the field. Thus, I will name some of the key declarations, convention and treaties, which are part of the vastly growing body of international human right laws, which can be viewed as forming an important legal basis for the protection of the rights of disabled all over the world. The Universal Declaration of Human Right (1948), Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) can be referred as the main documents in this regard, while other important international human rights instruments such as the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons (1971), the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (1993), the Salamanca Statement (1994) and Dakar Statement and Framework For Action (2000) also address and reinforce the rights of the disabled persons. All of these international documents are used as guidelines for the development of the legal and regulatory framework for inclusive education in each individual nation-state in the world.

Apart from the vast body of human rights laws on the international level, there exists the Kazakhstani national legal framework for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and their access to education, which encompass the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Children's Rights Act (2002) and the Law on Education (2007). Although these vast amounts of legislation that should provide necessary framework for addressing difficulties in access to education are in place, there still exist several problems, which have been identified by the Open Society Institute in its report on Kazakhstani inclusive education. These problems include lack of consistency and coordination among international, national and local legislations; weak accountability of bodies responsible for addressing this issue; and scarce financing for actual implementation of policies (Open Society Institute, 2009, p.9). Therefore, it becomes evident that the main problem with ensuring an access to the decent quality education for children with special needs in Kazakhstan is the fact that despite the existence of such a vast amount legal and regulatory frameworks both at international and domestic level the implementation of the principles of inclusive education is not being fully carried out.

According to Zakaeva&Iskakova(2014), today, one of the top priorities of the Kazakhstani educational policy is the introduction of inclusive system of education, realization of which will entail the possibilities of any educational institution in Kazakhstan being able to fully accept, decently educate and effectively socialize children with special needs. The Kazakhstani State Program of Educational Development for the period of 2011-2020 set the goals of increasing the proportion of preschool educational institutions guided by and operating under the principles of inclusive educations up to 30%, while the share of the general education schools up to 70% in order to achieve the equal access to education for children with special needs (Zakaeva&Iskakova, 2014). However, three main obstacles to the realization of the objectives set by Kazakhstani State Program of Educational Development can be identified such as insufficient infrastructure and facilities to accommodate the needs of children with disabilities, inadequate training of teaching staff to work with children with special needs, and unpreparedness of the society for the fullest realization of the inclusive education in Kazakhstan.

According to the 2011 statistics more than 70 % of the social infrastructure and public transportation in Kazakhstan is not available for the access of disabled people (Tengrinews, 2011). Moreover, 96 % of preschools and 83 % of middle and high schools lack the requisite conditions for the inclusion of disabled children (Tengrinews, 2011). Unpreparedness of the Kazakhstani general education schools for the inclusive education, and inability to meet their special educational needs means that transformation and adaptation has to be made to the architectural structure of educational institutions in Kazakhstan to make them accessible to disabled children. Since most existing Kazakhstani schools lack the necessary infrastructure and sufficient facilities for inclusion of disabled children, the new schools needs to be constructed with due regard to the State Program of Educational Development of Kazakhstan for the period of 2011-2020, which has defines specific mechanisms for the inclusion of children with disabilities into the general educational institutions (Gizdatov, 2011). Thus, the Director of the Department of Preschool and Secondary Education, Bahriden Karimzhanov, reported that the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan has already stared the introduction of amendments into the existing sanitary norms and principles in collaboration with the Construction Committee and the Ministry of Health, which will ensure the elimination of the barriers and provision of free movement for disabled children in the new schools (Gizdatov, 2011). It is planned that by 2015, 522 new schools will be built across Kazakhstan in compliance with these standards, and will be equipped with the necessary ramps, hoists, special furniture and sanitary rooms that will make the arrival, presence and movement of disabled children convenient in these schools (Gizdatov,2011). It is reported that since 2011 Kazakhstani disabled children studying at home have been provided with the software and hardware equipment necessary for the successful completion of their personal educational programs including the specialized keyboards, the hearing aids, the sound-amplifying microphones, the Braille displays, the electronic magnifiers and etc. (Zakon, 2013). Today, 43 % of the Kazakhstani special educational institutions are equipped with the multimedia systems that are aimed at stimulating the cognitive development of the disabled children, while the interactive whiteboards have been installed into more than 20 % of the schools. Furthermore, 41 % of the Kazakhstani educational institutions are equipped with the speech therapy simulators, and 37 % with the audio-verbal equipment. Thus, it can be stated that considerable progress has already been done toward realization of the State Program of Educational Development of Kazakhstan for the period of 2011-2020.

The second obstacle is the fact that most of the Kazakhstani school teachers and school administration are currently not capable of rendering qualified assistance and professional help for children with special educational needs to get adapted, develop and succeed in the general education schools and mainstream classrooms (Zakaeva&Iskakova, 2014). Kazakhstan is faced with a shortage of highly qualified specialists with professional competence to educate disabled children in the context of the general education schools to achieve the objectives set by the State Program of Educational Development for the period of 2011-2020. However, as the Chief Expert of National Scientific and Practical Center of Correctional Pedagogy, Rosa Suleimenova reports that there are more than one thousand defectologist graduating every year from the Kazakh National Pedagogical University in Kazakhstan (Jigailo, 2013). Thus, we cannot state there is no cadre capable of working with disabled children in Kazakhstan, but rather there is a discrepancy between the established and traditional Soviet style education and professional training that these defectologists receive and the demand for advanced and innovative specialists (Jigailo, 2013). There is a need for progressive specialists, who will be able to meet the modern international standards of inclusive education, and be in line with the latest developments and advancements in this field to effectively realize the inclusive education in Kazakhstan. Thus, the problem of teaching staff not having the quality of education necessary to work with children with special needs is needed to be addresses by the Kazakhstani Ministry of Education by the provision of progressive training for educating future specialists in the sphere of inclusive education, who will able to adequately respond to and accommodate the special educational needs of disabled children (Zakaeva&Iskakova, 2014).

However, the third obstacle presents an even greater problem: the fact that that Kazakhstani society may not be completely ready for the implementation and realization inclusive education to its fullest possible potential at this point. Some parents of non-disabled children may be reluctant to have their children study in same classroom with children with special needs, as they view may them as potentially hampering the educational pace of their children. Non-disabled children may not be psychologically prepared and ethically instructed to accept, to study side by side and collaborate with, and regard as equal, disabled children. I think that this attitude of the Kazakhstani people toward disabled people is the central issue that hinders the entire process of realization of inclusive education. However, not only parents of non-disabled children should get rid of their biased misconceptions and prejudices, and develop a positive attitude toward inclusive education, but the way to ethically and correctly treat and communicate with disabled children should be to nurtured in all Kazakhstani children from an early age. Thus, the very notion of viewing disabled children as defective and unfit, an attitude that is rather widespread in our society, should be eradicated in order to make the implementation of inclusive education possible in Kazakhstan. Unless the popular attitude of people in Kazakhstani society does not change for positive, the fact that legislative frameworks are in place, necessary infrastructure and facilities have been built into general education schools and there is abundance of qualified school teachers to work with children with special educational needs, will make no substantial difference to the situation of disabled children in Kazakhstan, and the very problem of exclusion of disabled people from social life will not be addressed. Thus, the positive attitude toward disabled children and involvement of the Kazakhstani society as a whole in the process of implementation of inclusive education is important for its successful realization. According to Nils Kauffman and Larisa Popova, there is a three-level model of appeal that can be helpful to promote the inclusive education. First, the right of the children to education should be emphasized as «the special needs students have done nothing wrong and so should not be deprived of an education or the opportunity to socialize with other children» (Kauffman &Popova, 2013, p. 106). Second, «the school is richer for the presence of the special-needs student. Regular and special-needs students have become friends and help each other», and «third, all students have potential…demonstrating that inclusion and high achievement are compatible» (Kauffman &Popova, 2013, p. 106). However, we can state that there is a growing awareness of the conditions of disabled children, and development of positive attitude toward inclusive education, as accordingto Jigailo (2013) the results of a survey conducted on the opinion of Kazakhstani people toward inclusive education demonstrated that more than 68 % believed that disabled children should study in general education schools to develop and socialize on par with other children (2013).

Apart from taking active measures to remove the three main obstacles to ensuring equal access to education for disabled children in Kazakhstan, that is, inadequate infrastructure, insufficient training of teachers, and Kazakhstani society’s lack of preparedness, other important issues that deserve immediate attention should be taken into consideration by the Kazakhstani government. Firstly, the grassroots organizations and movements that work to improve the lives and protect the rights of disabled people should be supported by the Kazakhstani government and their activities should be actively promoted in the society. The example of «AshykAlem», an organization of parents of children with autism based in Almaty, Kazakhstan, can be a vivid example of the effectiveness of a grassroots effort. As Mariana Markova and Dilara Sultanalieva (2013) state: «They not only managed to overcome the systemic barriers to educating their children, but also blazed the trail for other children pursuing the paths within the mainstream education system, proving that inclusion is possible» (p.62). Secondly, the possibilities of the future employment for children with disabilities should be considered by the Kazakhstani government to ensure their full socialization and complete integration into society. Today, most Kazakhstani disabled adults are largely unemployed, and sit at home isolated from the rest of the society. According to the statistics provided by the Ministry of Labor and Employment, only 12 % or 50 000 of disabled people of working-age are employed in Kazakhstan (Official Website of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, 2013). Moreover, as the representative of the General Prosecutors’ Office has reported the results of the official checkup: «Employment of disabled people is replete with formalism. Although the number of quotas is allocated to Kazakhstani enterprises every year by the government, in fact, few of the disabled get employed as a result of these efforts. Although almost 70 % of the Kazakhstani disabled, that is about 400 000 people, are capable of working, and being economically active» (Zakon, 2013). By providing jobs to the 350 000 of the disabled people who are still unemployed, we could not only help disabled these people to get fully integrated into society, but also the Kazakhstani economy would benefit (Zakon, 2013).

In conclusion, Kazakhstan has ratified all the main international legal instruments, has a national legislative framework in place and the firm determination to adopt the inclusive education; yet, it still faces difficulties in the implementation of the inclusive education. Three main problematic areas that are currently hampering the realization of inclusive education can be identified, which include infrastructure, teaching staff and societal attitudes. The general education schools and classrooms lack the sufficient infrastructure and facilities to accommodate the needs of children with disabled children, while teachers and administration need adequate training to educate and work with children with special needs in the context of mainstream school and classroom. Lastly, Kazakhstani society’s lack of preparedness for inclusive education constitutes another obstacle, as the positive public attitude toward disabled children in general education schools is one of the indispensible conditions necessary for the successful adoption and application of the principles of inclusive education in Kazakhstan. In addition, the Kazakhstani government should support grassroots organizations and should take measures to ensure the employment of the disabled in Kazakhstan.



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2. Gizdatov, Gazinur. 2011. «Exclusive of the Kazakhstani inclusive». Expert.Retrieved April 12, 2014 (http://expert.ru/kazakhstan/2011/37/ eksklyuziv-kazahstanskogo-inklyuziva/).

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6. Tengri News. 2011. «More than 70 % of infrastructure is unavailable for disabled in Kazakhstan». Retrieved April 11, 2014 (http://tengrinews.kz/ kazakhstan_news/v-kazahstane-70-protsentovobyektov- infrastrukturyi-nedostupnyi-invalidam- 185878/).

7. The Convention on the rights of the Child. 1989. Retrieved April 14. 2014 (http://www.ohchr.org/ en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx).

8. The Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan. 1997. Retrieved April 14, 2012 (http://www.constcouncil. kz/eng/norpb/constrk/).

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10. The Children's Rights Act of the Republic of Kazakhstan. 2002. Retrieved April 14, 2014 (http:// adilet.zan.kz/rus/docs/Z020000345).

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13. The Open Society Institute. 2009. «Children with Special Education Needs in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan». Retrieved April 11, 2014. http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/ default/files/special-education-en-20091207.pdf

14. The Official Website of the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan. 2013. «Only 12 % of Disabled in Kazakhstan are Employed». Retrieved on April 15, 2014 (http://primeminister.kz/news/show/26/vkazahstane- lish-12-invalidov-trudosposobnogovozrasta- obespecheny-rabochimi-mestami-mintruda- rk-/28-05-2013).

15. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 1948. Retrieved April 13, 2014 (http://www. un.org/en/documents/udhr/).

16. UNESCO. 2008. «Inclusive Education: the way of the future». Retrieved March 5, 2014(http:// www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ Policy_Dialogue/48th_ICE/CONFINTED_48_ Inf_2__English.pdf).

17. Zakayeva, Gulnar. andAigul,Iskakova. 2014. «Toward educating teachers in the field of inclusive education». Open School. Retrieved on April 16, 2014(http://www.open-school.kz/glavstr/inclusiv_ obraz/inclusiv_obraz_132_2.htm).

18. Zakon. 2013. «The Employment of Disabled in Kazakhstan is full of Formalism». Retrieved April 12, 2014(http://www.zakon.kz/4585192-vkazakhstane- trudoustrojjstvo.html).

19. Zakon. 2013. «The Ways of Development of the Inclusive Education Was Discussed in Astana». Retrieved April 29, 2014 (http://www.zakon. kz/4582286-v-astane-obsudili-puti-razvitija.html



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