While many countries are still pondering what to do with students come the new school year in September 2020, Kazakhstan – currently under a state imposed quarantine for a second time – has announced its back-to-school plan.
The academic year will start in distance learning format for almost all students. Exceptions will be made for the 4% of students who live in remote rural areas and go to small schools with composite (multi-age) classes.
It may also be possible to have some of the younger primary age children back in school if strict sanitary measures can be maintained. These include limits on movement within the school building, better ventilation and cleaning, limited class sizes, and attending school in shifts.
The government recognizes that the learning needs of these children may make it harder and/or less accessible to attempt remote learning – not only does online learning assume a level of technological capacity that these kids may not yet have mastered, but as any parent who’s been through the last months will tell you, it requires much greater input from an adult to help with the learning process.
However, even if younger children do get back to school, it will not be full-time; some subjects will be offered by distance.
This also informs the medium-term strategy, which is for a hybrid of face-to-face and distance learning as the health situation improves.
For primary aged vulnerable students with additional learning needs or from low-income families, measures will be taken to ensure inclusive and accessible learning. These measures are not specified.
Over the summer, the Ministry of Education has been taking on board feedback from teachers and students to improve the national online learning management system (LMS) and preparing materials for teachers to use in the next academic year. For example, online courses have been prepared to support teachers in IT, cyber pedagogy and teaching methods.
Colleges and universities will also start the new academic year in distance format. At colleges, there will be limited face-to-face provision for students on industry-related courses, those who need to do internships, and students in smaller remote colleges. At universities, there may be some face-to-face provision for lab work and courses requiring internships.