22 SES 13 C, Understanding Challenges of Student Transition from School to Tertiary Education in Post-Soviet States: cases of Russia, Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan
Over the course of the last 20 years, post-socialist states – Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan – have faced common challenges originated from the same, previously highly standardized and state-controlled education system of the former Soviet Union. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, each of these countries has come up with different socio-economic development strategies and post-socialist education reform packages (Silova & Steiner-Khamsi, 2008, p. 17). In the process of drastic educational transformations, the states officially endorsed their will to join the Bologna Process and thus become part of the European Higher Education Area. Russia and Kazakhstan have become Bologna Process signatories in 2003 and 2010 correspondingly whilst the Kyrgyz Republic is still working on gaining its membership.
As in much of the post-Soviet geographies, socialisation of youth and provision of quality education has been the main focus of social transformations in the three countries. Coming from their socialist past and its consequent education crisis characterised by teacher attrition, cuts in public funding for higher education, and increase in rural educational inequalities to name a few, both school and higher educational institutions encounter issues of student transition from school to tertiary education so as to prepare skilled workforce in the process of nation state building.
Student transition is the process of cognitive, affective, social, organisational and economic adaptations and survival from one level of education into another. Several studies indicated that transition from high school to university was characterized as a stressful experience for many youth (Perry and Allard, 2003). However, student transition research does not only consider issues related to economic factors of skilled workforce and the risk of student drop-out but it also takes into account personal, social and cultural integration of the students into a university life. Research on students’ perspectives of their transition exposes a complexity of their experiences (McInnis, 2001). Four papers presented in this symposium explore students’ perceived experiences of student transition from high school to university in the societies undergoing post-Soviet economic, political, and social transition. The examination into students’ perspectives of transition from high school to tertiary education in these papers is carried out using diverse research methodologies, including case studies based on qualitative interviews and mixed methodological approaches.
The first paper of the Symposium by Darya Litvina discusses the role of the centralised unified examination in the selection of college choice and career aspirations in Russia. She presents the findings of two-year mixed-method case study research of the entrants and first-year university students in Saint-Petersburg, Russia.
The second paper by Rakhat Zholdoshalieva invites readers to reflect on diverging youth trajectories and the effects of social class in a rural Kyrgyz society in structuring these differences. The paper speaks to the differential educational perceptions and practices of rural youth based on the qualitative research findings of her doctoral research.
The third paper by Olena Fimyar introducesa mixed-method study that explores how students from different socio-economic backgrounds adjust to the course of study in higher education in Kazakhstan. The study seeks to assist governmental strategies in Kazakhstan and internationally aimed at preventing drop-out rates and addressing rural-urban inequalities.
The concluding paper by Kairat Kurakbayev and Zhuldyz Amankulova discusses the opportunities and challenges of students’ social and academic integration taking into account the differences of educational policies, teaching methodologies and curricula at secondary schools and higher education institutions, as the country embarks on its path to the Bologna process.
McInnis, C. (2001) Researching the first-year experience: where to from here? Higher Education Research and Development, 2 (2). Perry, C., & Allard, A. (2009). Making the connections: transition experiences for first-year education students. The Journal of Educational Enquiry, 4 (2). Silova, I., & Steiner-Khamsi, G. (Eds.). (2008). How NGOs react: Globalization and education reform in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Mongolia. Kumarian Press.
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