The preschools have, on average, declined sharply. Several were closed down during the 1990s. Nowadays (2008), only 27% of children of preschool age have a place in such schools. The school system in Kazakhstan provides an opportunity for almost eleven years of schooling. The tuition is free of charge, but parents pay for leisure activities within the school framework, such as sports, music and sometimes even laboratory equipment. For those who can afford, there are a number of private school options. Lack of facilities and teachers in the public school makes the children in many places read in shifts. The children start primary school at the age of 7. From the fifth school year, you go on to the seven-year secondary school, which is divided into two stages (5 + 2). About 99% attend primary school and 92% secondary school (2005).
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In addition to Kazakh and Russian-speaking classes, there are also minority language classes, including Korean, German, Uzbek and Uighur. About 3% of children attend such minority classes.
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Literacy is high, only 2.5% of the population is estimated to be illiterate.
Kazakhstan now has several universities, of which those in Alma-Ata (al-Farabi Kazakh National University) and Astana (LN Gumilyov Eurasian National University) are considered the top. The University of Karaganda also has a good reputation. Alongside these are some international universities, including Kazakh-British Technical University (Alma-Ata) and Kazak American University (Alma-Ata), where the education is given entirely in English. In addition, there are a number of technical colleges and other specialized colleges.
Kazakhstan flag source: Countryaah.com
In April 2011, Nazarbayev was re-elected with 95.5% of the vote. The election had been accelerated from 2012 after the Constitutional Council refused to extend the presidential term to 2020. OSCE regretted that the election had been marked by a lack of transparency and election campaign. In January 2010, Kazakhstan had taken over the OSCE chair. The country’s close allies, the EU and the US, failed to comment on the outcome.
In July, EU Foreign Commissioner Catherine Ashton welcomed the negotiations for a “strengthened partnership” between the EU and Kazakhstan.
In May, the oil workers at the Ozenmunaigas oil field went on strike in protest of the non-payment of the normal hazard allowance. The local courts declared the strike illegal and the oil companies fired 1,000 workers. Some of the firemen then initiated a permanent occupation of the central square in the city of Zhanaozen. On May 24, lawyer and trade union activist Natalia Sokolova was sentenced to “administrative detention” for having called for an illegal act in Aktau. In August, she was sentenced to 6 years in prison for her political and professional activities and her appeals rejected. In mid-December 2011, some of the workers in the space occupation began demanding the right to form political parties, independent of the state apparatus. On December 16, police began clearing the workers from the square. Officially in preparation for the nation’s national day. During this campaign, the police opened fire on the protesters and killed 16. According to the police, the violence had occurred after «bandits» had infiltrated the demonstrators and attacked the police. Over 100 were injured. The day after, the government declared the area in 20 days of state of emergency. In May 2012, the regime brought the surviving workers and a number of opposition politicians and activists to justice. They could report that they had been subjected to abuse and torture while under arrest by police. Popular Kazakh singer Bavyrjan produced a song criticizing Nazarbayev’s regime for not listening to the workers. The song was immediately banned by the government.
In September 2012, Nazarbayev removed Prime Minister Massimov and made him Chief of Staff in the Presidential Palace. It was seen as an attempt to balance the various factions in government. The Prime Minister’s post was taken over by Serik Akhmetov. Already in April 2014 he again transferred the post to Karim Massimov.
EU Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton visited Kazakhstan in November 2012. She failed to take up human rights. The EU gives priority to trade with the country. In June 2013, President of the European Union, Jose Manuel Barroso visited Kazakhstan. He failed to take up human rights. The EU gives priority to trade with the country. In July 2013, the annual meeting of the US-Kazakhstan Strategic Partnership Commission was conducted. The United States failed to address human rights. The superpower gives priority to trade with the country.