For the first time in Kazakhstan, the oldest technical University of the country put forward the idea of a Republican-scale project on inclusive education. The aim of the project is to provide people with disabilities with access to higher education and give them a chance to build a full life.
The share of people with disabilities is constantly growing and has reached 3.7% of the population of Kazakhstan. For 4 years (from 2011 to 2015) the number of children with disabilities increased by 20%. There are 88,000 children with special needs in Kazakhstan, but only 0.3-0.5% receive higher education. This is a total of 385 students. Most are not socialized, have no education and do not work. They have no formed need for higher education.
The head of the youth organization of disabled people "Zhiger" Farhat Yusupzhanov told about the current situation:
– Many applicants believe that higher education is not available for them. When enrolling, people with special needs face great difficulties. For example, if a person needs extra time to pass an exam, he needs to achieve this, prove something. If the blind person needs an assistant on the exam, he may be given an unqualified person who does not know how to explain what is written on the ticket. We even faced a situation when a deaf person was required to pass an English listening test. And if a person does not hear – how will he audition? And many other problems.
But even if they do, they still can not learn effectively, because there is no appropriate infrastructure, teachers are not prepared, there are no adapted manuals. It takes disabled people all the time just to get to the right class and get information. Teachers see that they can not help this student and artificially inflate his grade, and the student studies just for the sake of scholarships. The level of graduates with disabilities is very low, even after receiving a diploma, they are not able to work.
How was the idea of the project born
To solve this problem, Satbayev University plans to launch an inclusive education project dedicated to giving people with special needs access to higher education.
Deputy Director of the Marketing and communications department of Satbayev University Aigerim Kaliaskarkyzy says:
– I often order "Yandex-taxi" and noticed that behind the wheel of a taxi a lot of deaf people. There was a constant problem: how to explain to them where to go? And I thought, why are people with special needs trying to adapt to us and we're not doing anything? Why are there no sign language classes in universities, just to teach people to talk to each other?
When I started to find out about inclusive education, I found that universities in Kazakhstan do not have the resources or the qualified people to implement inclusive education as needed. And we thought, we have a vision, we are a strong business team and we want to take that responsibility.
Higher education is one of the most important factors of socialization and success for all segments of the population. At all times, access to higher education has meant financial and emotional stability, problem-solving skills, and ultimately a fulfilling life. This is also true for people with disabilities. Inclusive higher education is a real opportunity for adequate socialization of children with special needs.
Is the emergence of Kazakhstan's Stephen Hawking possible?
In mid-September, the world-famous motivational speaker Nick Vujicic will visit Almaty again and give a master class "Life without borders". Nick, who was born without arms and legs, inspires millions of people around the world, but few people know that Nick went to a normal school and graduated from Griffith University in Brisbane with a double bachelor of Commerce degree.
The state of Victoria passed the disability act in the early 1990s, a couple of years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The essence of the law is to provide the state with free access to public buildings and public services. It was this law that allowed nick to get all the benefits that education at the University gives.
Since the adoption of these instruments, there have been notable changes in America and Australia. It's not just that people in wheelchairs can now go to the movies and buy coffee at Starbucks, but more of a benefit not just for working disabled people, but for the communities in which they live. Persons with disabilities in these countries can now contribute to the common cause and benefit the country.
– This project is very important for us. Nick Vujicic for the first time began to speak as the speaker in high school and became a world famous speaker. We want to become such a school for people with disabilities and give them a start in life. People, from whom society has so far refused, will find their place in the economy of Kazakhstan – - says the head of the office of the rector of Satbayev University Berik Mukhtybayev.
World experience of inclusive education
In Kazakhstan, until recently, children who had serious health problems fell into the category of defective. These are boys and girls suffering from cerebral palsy, deaf or blind, autistic. Usually such children were sent to boarding schools by their parents, and higher education was closed for them.
To understand the scale of the problem, imagine that you are not free to cross the street, take a bus, or enter a classroom or store. You can't earn your own living and have to do just what you're told. However, the opportunities of people with special needs are not limited by their illness. They cannot see, hear, or move freely, but they can think, solve complex problems, develop science and technology, and lead.
World experience shows that people with disabilities carry a great creative potential. The legendary President Franklin Roosevelt, who led America through the great Depression and world war II, spent the last third of his life in a wheelchair. English physicist Stephen Hawking, who became a symbol of physics of the twentieth century, had sclerosis and could not speak and move. Nobel prize-winning chemist John Cornforth went completely deaf at 16. Soviet physicist Benjamin Zuckerman became the founder of pulse radiography, being blind.
Us Secretary of state John Kerry stresses that " an Inclusive society is a stronger society because it relies on the talents and contributions of everyone." By giving people with disabilities access to higher education, advanced countries such as the United States, Australia, Singapore, Japan began to use the rich economic potential. Kazakhstan can get the same effect.
A project that will change the situation
Only one positive example of a fully inclusive University in the country can change the situation. Satbayev University is ready to take on This role. At the moment, the University is looking for financial support to fully open its doors to the visually, hearing and musculoskeletal disabilities next year.
- Satbayev University is a national University, and we want to show by our example that people with disabilities can be engineers and scientists, work on a par with the whole society, successfully socialize. Unfortunately, the budget of the University does not include the possibility of implementing this project, so we are looking for funding to implement this idea and meet the needs of disabled people in education qualitatively and with full responsibility – said Berik Mukhtybayev.
Within the framework of the project, the University is ready to design, integrate and adapt the infrastructure, and then adapt the academic processes using modern IT solutions in education. The University plans to develop standards of educational materials and infrastructure elements, methods of training teachers and psychologists to work with people with disabilities.
- The easiest way to adapt the infrastructure, - says Aigerim Caliskar. - Install ramps, equip corridors with tactile paths and partitions, change signs, install memo walls written in Braille, install equipment in toilets for the disabled. It is more difficult to change academic processes, train teachers and provide students with disabilities with access to educational materials. To do this, we want to create a center where you can print materials in Braille, ask a question, get help.
As a result, the University will be able to fully prepare people with special needs for engineering and scientific work.
After launching and analyzing the results of the project, Satbayev University plans to create a comprehensive solution that describes in detail all stages of the project implementation similar to modern franchises. Satbayev University is ready to show the potential of the project, its positive social and economic effect and to transfer its decision to all interested universities of Kazakhstan free of charge.
The University pays special attention to the development of a marketing strategy to attract children with disabilities to education and formation of their needs for higher education. Part of the project will be knowing how to properly engage students and make the project effective.
– I really want people with disabilities to be able to find their place in life and realize their talents, - says Farhat Yusupzhanov. – That those money which the state invests in education, grants, the raised grant, road and other payments then returned to the state in the form of the expert who could put the knowledge in development of the society, the country. I hope this project will help.