The quality of public schools and education in Kazakhstan varies. The country has a literacy rate of close to 100 percent, but due to historic underfunding, local schools may have a shortage of facilities and teachers. In addition, teaching is done in local languages.
For these reasons, most expats prefer to send their children to Kazakhstan's international schools, most of which are based in Almaty and Astana (previously Nur-Sultan).
Public schools in Kazakhstan
Education in Kazakhstan is divided into three stages: primary school, lower secondary school and higher secondary school. Tuition for state schools is free for citizens and residents. Classes are taught in either Russian or Kazakh. For this reason, most expat families opt for international schooling unless they are planning to stay in the country long term.
Those who decide to make use of the country's public school system should be aware that school is typically run in two sessions a day, with one session held in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Each child attends only one of the sessions daily, although some schools have homework programmes that allow learners to stay at school while their parents are at work.
International schools in Kazakhstan
Expats who are concerned that sending their child to an international school in Kazakhstan will cut them off from the local culture needn't worry, as many of Kazakhstan's international schools are favoured by well-off local families and other expats. Popular curricula on offer include the International Baccalaureate, as well as the British and American curricula.
There is often a high demand for spaces in international schools, so expats should apply as far in advance as possible. Schools should be contacted directly for information about application requirements and processes.
International schools typically have hefty fees, so expats should ensure they're able to fit this into their budget.
►For insight into daily life in the country, see Culture Shock in Kazakhstan
"I knew some of the expats who had their children go to the Kazakh public schools but because of the scheduling of classes one child might be there in the morning and the other in the afternoon. There were the expensive Westernised schools that our expat friends taught at which are probably the best place to register children because they will be in classrooms with many different cultures and it was taught in English." Read more about Kristina's expat experience in Kazakhstan.
"The kindergartens offer a warm, family feeling. They do a range of activities with the kids, from dancing and gym class to art and, for the older kids, robotics workshops." Learn more about Jolene's expat experience in Kazakhstan.
Are you an expat living in Kazakhstan?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Kazakhstan. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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