ERG SES G 10, Policies in Education
The political turmoil of the 1990s demanded from the newly independent republics as Kazakhstan to redefine their political, economic, and social models to survive in a new political and economic order (Silova, 2011; Zgaga, 2009). Within these major restructuring, education played a crucial role in the transition from the Soviet model of education to Western one to benefit the national economy. In these conditions, countries in transition seek the best practices since policy adoption has acquired the great strategic significance in current education reforms (Verger, 2014). This global isomorphism refers to ‘learning from elsewhere’ (Phillips, 2000) or ‘policy borrowing and lending’ (Steiner-Khamsi, 2006; 2012) that defines the way a majority of developing countries deliberately adjust their political, economic and social behavior to the best models of developed countries.
In this light, the Bologna Process emerged to be the best Europeanization strategy in the post-Soviet area (Zgaga, 2009). Kazakhstan ratified the Bologna Declaration in 2010 to integrate into a global educational space and to acquire certain political and economic benefits by ‘turning to Europe’ (Silova, 2011). Nevertheless, there are certain ‘costs’ in a view of different socio-economic, political, cultural, and geographical contexts to implement a borrowing policy. Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to analyse the realization of six compulsory action lines of the Bologna Process (introduction of the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS); the issue of the Diploma Supplement to graduates; transition to the three-cycle system (Bachelor, Masters and Doctorates); promotion of mobility of students, faculty, and administrative staff; provision of quality assurance mechanisms; and finally creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) in Kazakhstan taking into account each stage in the deliberate realization of a new education reform. The research questions that guide through the research are as follows:
- What factors have influenced the decision to adopt the Bologna Process in Kazakhstan?
- How did the implementation of the borrowing policy in education take place?
The analytical framework for borrowing policies in education will be employed to trace realization of six action lines of the Bologna Process. The framework was developed by Phillips and Ochs (2002; 2003; 2015). It scrutinizes the borrowing reforms in education uncovering the processes, reasons, and circumstances that explain how and why policy-makers select, embrace, and borrow the global education policies to implement them in their educational realities (Verger, 2014). The analytical model is similar with the policy cycle framework that considers evolving of a public policy in a chronological and logical order (Jann & Wegrich, 2007). First, problems are defined and put on the agenda; next, policies are developed, adopted, and implemented. Finally, the policy is assessed against its effectiveness and efficiency and either terminated or restarted. But since the Bologna Process is not just a public policy but the best example of the borrowing policy in education, it seems rational to employ the framework of Phillips and Ochs (2003). This model consists of four stages, where the first stage determines the contextual background that lead to the ‘cross-cultural attraction’ between a policy borrower and a policy lender (Ochs & Phillips, 2002). Next, it considers the contexts behind the decision-making process, and furthermore, it assesses the certain procedures at the implementation stage, e.g., assessment and examination, certification, training arrangements, etc. Finally, it assesses the borrowing policy whether it is institutionalized becoming a part of a whole national education system.
The Bologna Process has been institutionalized in Kazakhstani education system mainly due to two major factors. First, there was already established cooperation between the EU and Kazakhstan to realize the European Education Initiative within the EU-Central Asia Strategy (Melvin & Boonstra, 2008). By 2009, the initiative had prioritized higher and vocational education and recommended the Bologna Process as an alternative. For this reason, there was renewed the national regulatory basis to legitimize the Bologna Process. In 2010, when Kazakhstan officially became a signatory-country, there was adopted the State Program on Education Development for 2011-2020 that was aimed to serve as a roadmap to internationalize Kazakhstani higher education. Thus, prior to annex the Bologna Process, Kazakhstan was committed to reform its higher education system in accordance with the Bologna Process. Alternatively, it should be emphasized that the purpose of the Bologna Process is not to set a universal education system with standardized rules. Rather it is aimed to harmonize national systems of the member-countries across Europe and beyond to make academic achievements of students easily recognizable and acknowledgeable, to enable graduates and researchers to be mobile and adaptable to new conditions of labour markets, as well as to ensure unified standards of quality management in education in member-countries (Tomusk, 2004).
Jann, W., & Wegrich, K. (2007). Theories of the Cycle Policy. In Handbook of Public Policy Analysis: Theory, politics and methods (pp. 43–62). Melvin, N., & Boonstra, J. (2008). The EU Strategy for Central Asia@ Year One. CEPS Policy Briefs, (1–12), 1–10. Ochs, K., & Phillips, D. (2002). Comparative Studies and “Cross-National Attraction” in Education: A typology for the analysis of English interest in educational policy and provision in Germany. Educational Studies, 28(4), 325–339. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305569022000042372 Phillips, D. (2000). Learning from elsewhere in education: some perennial problems revisited with reference to British interest in Germany. Comparative Education, 36(3), 297–307. Phillips, D. (2015). Policy Borrowing in Education: Frameworks for analysis. In Second International Handbook on Globalisation, Education and Policy Research (pp. 137–148). Springer Netherlands. Phillips, D., & Ochs, K. (2003). Processes of Policy Borrowing in Education: Some explanatory and analytical devices. Comparative Education, 39(4), 451–461. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305006032000162020 Silova, I. (2011). Higher education reforms and global geopolitics: Shifting cores and peripheries in Russia, the Baltics, and Central Asia. Russian Analytical Digest, 97, 9–12. Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2006). The economics of policy borrowing and lending: A study of late adopters. Oxford Review of Education, 32(5), 665–678. Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2012). Understanding Policy Borrowing and Lending: Building Comparative Policy Studies. In G. Steiner-Khamsi & F. Waldow (Eds.), World yearbook of education 2012: Policy borrowing and lending in education. Routledge. Tomusk, V. (2004). Three Bolognas and a Pizza Pie: notes on institutionalization of the European higher education system. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 14(1), 75–96. Verger, A. (2014). Why Do Policy-Makers Adopt Global Education Policies? Toward a Research Framework on the Varying Role of Ideas in Education Reform. Current Issues in Comparative Education, 16(2), 14–29. Zgaga, P. (2009). The Bologna Process and its role for transition countries. Revista de La Educacion Superior, 38(150), 83–95.
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