The quality of public schools and education in Kazakhstan varies. The country has a literacy rate of close to 100 percent, but due to a history of 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 make use of Kazakhstan's international schools, most of which are based in Almaty and Nur-Sultan (previously known as Astana).
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 of charge for citizens and residents. Classes are taught in either Russian or Kazakh. For this reason, unless expat families are planning on staying in the country for the long term, most opt for international schooling instead.
Those who do 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 per day, although some schools have homework programmes so that learners can 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 need not worry too much, as many of Kazakhstan's international schools are favoured by well-off local families as well as 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 high 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 of Kristina'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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