20 Jun 2016

Only the very best are accepted: The Bolashak Programme brings Kazakhstani teachers to Jyväskylä

JAMK University of Applied Sciences has already implemented numerous collaborative projects with the state of Kazakhstan during the course of the past few years. One of the fruits of this collaboration has been made possible by the Bolashak scholarship programme, which is implemented in Finland by JAMK. This year, Kazakhstani teachers with a Bolashak scholarship have chosen to travel to Jyväskylä, and JAMK's Teacher Education College (AOKK), to improve their pedagogical competencies.

The Bolashak programme was instituted in 1993 by the then newly-independent state of Kazakhstan, firstly, to provide the country with access to Western know-how, which it needed to plan and implement reforms, and secondly, to provide talented young Kazakhs with opportunities to study abroad.

–Those chosen for the Bolashak programme do not have to pay for anything; all their studying expenses are covered by the state of Kazakhstan.  However, the entrance criteria are strict; in other words, it is very difficult to get in, says Leena Kaikkonen, Principal Lecturer and Head of RDI Activities at JAMK's Education College.

– The programme emphasises practical studies, and students' individual needs are also taken into account in its implementation. Options include workshops, practical teacher training courses and e-learning courses. These are completed as part of a process which also requires students to assess their own teaching skills and participate in different development projects.

In addition to JAMK staff, the students' progress is also monitored by Bolashak's representatives.

One group of Kazakhstani students is already studying at the Education College, and another is expected to arrive during the coming autumn. The programme's application period has just begun.

After obtaining his degree, Kazakh physics teacher, Askhat Zhumabekov, was determined to reach an even higher level of knowledge by studying abroad.

– I knew that Finland's education level is higher than ours, and that the country's schools employ a really unique teaching method. As a teacher, I find it very important to discover new teaching methods and techniques that can help me both teach and learn.

Last summer, Askhat applied for a scholarship through the Bolashak programme. 20 students were chosen for the final application phase, but in the end only 3 were granted the scholarship.

– I was over the moon when I heard that I had been picked! This study programme lasts eight months. My goal is to be able to continue my studies in Finland in a doctoral programme. In the future, I want to be able to share my experiences with the people of Kazakhstan and help my fellow countrymen bring glory to our eternal country, the "Mangilik El", Askhat envisions.

Askhat is a hard-working student, but he does have time for hobbies as well: dancing and speed skating are his two great passions.  Currently, however, his focus is firmly on getting as much as possible out of his remaining studies so that he can take a wealth of new knowledge back home to spread for the benefit of his fellow countrymen.  This task is one that every Bolashak applicant must sign up to in order to be accepted.

– The other group members and I have spent some time getting to know Jyväskylä. The most memorable experience must have been the local May Day festivities, Askhat adds with a grin.

Kazakhstan has also awarded entry to its Bolashak programme to the University of Applied Sciences of Häme, or HAMK. JAMK and HAMK collaborate, for example, in the field of student recruitment marketing; both are now competing for the attention of Bolashak scholarship winners on a list which also includes many of the world's highest ranking universities.

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