Why is vocational guidance important for secondary school students in Kazakhstan?

Interview with a career guidance consultant
Why is vocational guidance important for secondary school students in Kazakhstan?

Nowadays, vocational guidance for young people is one of the most pressing issues in society. This is because young people do not choose their profession deliberately, and when they work, they do not realize their full potential. Besides that, the skills and knowledge they acquire become obsolete over time and also become uncompetitive in the labour market. Therefore, it is very important to conduct career guidance classes for young people. For example, in Germany, the career guidance system begins in kindergarten. What is the situation in Kazakhstan? Does the school provide vocational guidance? In today's article, we will explore and investigate the answers to these questions.

Why is vocational guidance important for secondary school students in Kazakhstan?

Are school students professionally oriented in our country?

In a journalistic inquiry to the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, we requested to know how vocational guidance is organized in schools. According to the Ministry, the psychologists and teachers of the school explore the personal qualities and interests of students, identify their aptitudes, abilities, and professional characteristics, introduce them to popular professions, and help them determine their professional goals.

The National Academy of Education, named after Ibray Altynsarin, coordinates the work of vocational guidance for schoolchildren throughout the country. An academy conducts a number of studies for schoolchildren in the field of selecting a future profession from an early age.

– “The right choice of specialization in school-age children often determines the quality of their later life, their success, and their ability to maximize self-realization in a particular field of activity. This shows the urgency of the issue of vocational guidance. Over the past decade, the development of vocational guidance has attracted the attention of many stakeholders”, – the Ministry of Education and Science said in response to our portal.

The responsible experts approved by the Ministry carry out and coordinate general methodological work in the field of vocational guidance, as well as prepare guidelines and analytical reviews. Furthermore, they organize the research work in order to provide information on various specialties. Other than this, they collect and analyze information from the regions in this area.

The question of what exams the Ministry of Education and Science offers students to choose a profession is not within the competence of the ministry.

Comprehensive vocational guidance program at Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools

Vocational guidance for students in the secondary schools is organized by the Deputy Director of educational work. Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools have a specialist that is called a career guidance consultant. That is why we decided to take an example from this school.

The graduates of Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools will take a general complex of external summative examinations developed by the Cambridge Assessment Office and the International IELTS Exam in English. The final exams focus on functional literacy, creative application of knowledge, research and processing of information from various sources, critical thinking skills, experimental skills, and the assessment of communication and language skills. The content, development, and implementation technologies correspond to the international level exams (such as A-level, SAT, etc.).

In Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools in Nur-Sultan, vocational guidance is carried out in accordance with a specially planned system between the 7th and 12th grades. It is important to note that each class is gradually working not only with a professional career counselor, but also with students, psychologists, teachers, curators, and parents.

Why is vocational guidance important for secondary school students in Kazakhstan?

– “As for the program in our school, we have been using it since the 7th grade to prepare our students for the Olympiads, as well as conduct analysis through preparation for the projects. Psychologists use special test methods to check students' professional orientation and then share the results with parents, teachers, and curators to provide feedback for them. For the grades between 9 and 12, we have different communities. Students usually determine their aptitudes by participating in general clubs. The students' interests are mapped in curatorial hours and the results are shared with parents, and here parents also spend ten days of social internships at enterprises and exchange experiences”, – said Alfiya Dauletkereeva, a career guidance consultant.

In addition, when students enter the 10th grade, Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Nur-Sultan offers students a “Diploma Program” in accordance with the international undergraduate system. Before choosing a diploma program on Form 10, students should take a test with a psychologist again, as well as with a career counselor and school curator. Also, they need to discuss that with psychologists, teachers, and counsel students before selecting a subject. 

– “Vocational guidance in the school is not only in the charge of one person, but it is also actively involved with teachers and curators. Also, the graduates of final classes can visit the official website of the school, where they can find the “IB World Map” program prepared by the graduates and choose their country. Here you can get a little information about where our graduates entered the institutions and in what specialty they entered. It should be noted that school graduates, curators, and career counselors hold special meetings for the graduates to enroll in universities. These activities increase students' motivation for higher education and help them get a higher education. Therefore, we use the book "Atlas of New Professions”. We advise students to select their future profession while taking into account this textbook. In particular, we advise students on how to study and master popular professions”, – added Alfiya Dauletkereeva, a career consultant.

Summary: Vocational guidance in school allows students to choose their future specializations and select the university. The book “Atlas of New Professions” also helps students and graduates to determine the demand for their future profession.

In what areas does Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools offer more career guidance?

The answer to this question is linked to the interest of students in the career guidance consultant. For example, sometimes students face difficulties choosing their future profession. In such cases, students often seek the help of psychologists and mentors. Psychologists use a variety of methods to determine their aptitudes, abilities, and motivation to learn new things. The results of the test can demonstrate which students are more inclined and capable. Schoolchildren and graduates often tend to go in a certain direction, including social sciences, physics, mathematics, and natural sciences.

Why is vocational guidance important for secondary school students in Kazakhstan?

– “Students choose elective subjects based on their abilities and interests, as well as study the main subjects in high school. We have such clubs as "Robotics", "Web and 3D modeling", "UN Modeling Club", "Chess Club", competitions for national and international research projects, Olympiads, conferences and forums, as well as special projects like "Bow to the Motherland", "10 Days of Participating in Social Projects and Internships at the Parent Company". Besides that, vocational guidance meetings with domestic and foreign universities are held regularly to help students select their major profession. Students take part in educational exhibitions and university fairs, and visit universities and enterprises in the regions”, – added Alfiya Dauletkereeva.

According to the career guidance consultant, the school will hold meetings with representatives of various specialties, including the fellows from the "Bolashak" scholarship, students from Nazarbayev University, and members of the NIS Alumni Association.

In addition, the inspector of vocational guidance and psychological services carries out the following activities in the field of vocational guidance for the students:

Seminars on “How to help students choose a future profession”;

• Special webinar will be organized to explain the relationship between Personal Project and Service Unit projects and social projects, future choices of disciplines and professions;

• DP advises on the choice of profile disciplines;

•“Talk like” presentation on the topic of university entrance analysis for the parents of all parallels;

The representatives from different universities also organize and conduct the special lectures and presentations. In particular, for the following areas:

• Conducting courses on writing motivational and recommendation letters to the students and teachers;

• Organization of IELTS exam;

• Completion of priority specialties for each student (EIOS “Orientation to universities”);

• Using students' achievements in competitions and research projects to help students to register, receive grants or scholarships and specify a future profession;

Advice on choosing specialties and institutions;

• Completion of Common App, UCAS platforms and submission of necessary documents.

Do people need to have a pedagogical education, working as a “Professional orientation” or “Career guidance consultant”?

Nazarbayev Intellectual School has been working with students since the 7th grade. They work with pedagogical psychologists, subject teachers, and curators to implement the above activities in the framework of vocational guidance. The tutors and curators usually implement the tasks in the following areas:

• Conducts individual conversations with students and their parents based on the choice of profession and university;

• Along with students they create an individual route for the admission to local universities and enters the data into the information system of AEO;

• Helps to write motivational letters, proceed the interviews;

• Compiles letters of recommendation;

• Helps graduate students to enter the institutions (filling out forms in egov, UCAS, Common App).

Why is vocational guidance important for secondary school students in Kazakhstan?

According to Alfiya Dauletkereeva, a career guidance consultant at school is not only in the hands of one person, but she also involves teachers and curators. In the 12th grade, the student works closely with a career advisor when applying to universities. The consultant will provide information about the requirements of a foreign university and help write a cover letter. Teachers provide a letter of recommendation.

–“A career advisor must have a pedagogical education, and know three languages ​​to work with domestic, Russian, and foreign universities. The head office in the capital has been organizing webinars for two years. The embassies of different countries explain their programs and present the universities. We undergo a psychological training too. Although there are no special hours for vocational guidance, it is included in our curriculum. And, the programs of ordinary schools are simpler and not more complicated than ours”, – noted Alfiya Dauletkereeva.

According to her, students often ask about choosing a profession. There are a lot of versatile schoolchildren who see themselves in both fields, creatively and engineeringly, and do not know which way to go in both environments. They go to a psychologist and take a test. The test indicates the abilities and talents of each student.

Why does a student need a professional diagnostics?

It basically helps students make choices in their profession. Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools assess students' individual psychological characteristics, interests, and motivations and create a student profile. Special attention is paid to the psychological diagnosis of 10th grade students. If the identified interests, professional orientation, and personal psychological characteristics correspond to the professional plan of the student, the results of the diagnosis are given to the curator and career guidance consultant. If they do not match, the student is encouraged to explore his own interests and seek advice on how to deal with a possible internal conflict. It is recommended to participate in additional clubs, elective courses, competitions, and additional meetings with professionals. If it is in accordance with the student's professional plan, but does not comply with the wishes of the parents, the student and parents are encouraged to consult a psychologist.

Why is vocational guidance important for secondary school students in Kazakhstan?

What is the uniqueness and difference between the International Baccalaureate at the Nazarbayev Intellectual School?

International Baccalaureate is an international non-governmental educational organization. The main activities of this organization include:

· Development of curricula

· Assessment of student achievement

· Improving teachers' knowledge

· Authorization of schools and evaluation of their activities

Currently, the International Baccalaureate (IB) has authorized 3,200 schools from 141 countries, with 945,000 students. One of the internationally recognized programs for continuing education for schoolchildren and students aged 13 to 19, A program that has built a reputation for high quality education for over 35 years.

The educational process in the International Baccalaureate is aimed at the proper development of the educational process. Access to the IB program is provided through a regional office and a network of international undergraduate schools that connect the world.

Why is vocational guidance important for secondary school students in Kazakhstan?

In November 2021, the Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Nur-Sultan joined the International Association of Baccalaureate Schools of the Caucasus and Central Asia.

The International Baccalaureate at Nazarbayev Intellectual School is one of the first schools in the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools Network to provide education under the IB program.

In September 2013, the school started training under the Diploma Program, a universal course to prepare high school students aged 16–18 to enter the world's leading top universities.

The basis of teaching in the MYP program is the student. In return, it gives confidence that the International Baccalaureate will develop the student as a person in a comprehensive and spiritual way, as well as help them to learn the major subjects on their own.

In conclusion, the basic school curriculum directs students to understand their role in nature and social space. The program provides independent preparation of students for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program offered by the school.

(The pictures were derived from the personal archive of the career guidance consultant and Nazarbayev Intellectual School) 

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