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Development perspectives of rural schools

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«Well-being of the village is a well-being of country»

(President of Republic of Kazakhstan N.A.Nazarbayev)

In 2050[1] the population of the earth will reach 9 billion people. In order to provide all inhabitants of the earth with the food it will be necessary to increase the world productivity of agricultural sector for 60%.

Kazakhstan is one of the largest producers of grain crops in the world. However the agriculture share in GDP of Kazakhstan made only 4,4%[2] in 2014. Within strategy "Kazakhstan-2050" formation of the country as one of large regional meat, dairy and other agricultural goods exporters’ is planned. For national economy the agriculture is priority branch.

Development of agriculture and the village is linked as well with activity of school, which efficiency significantly influences providing agricultural and agrarian sector with manpower. Main characteristics of rural schools: geographical isolation and low population density.

Today in Kazakhstan function 5 495 (76,7%) rural schools which are presented by a large number low-complete (57,5%) and complete schools (42,5%)[3]. In total in rural areas about 1 311 thousand children (48,1% of the general contingent of pupils) are learned.

In Kazakhstan schools aren't classified by a geographical arrangement. Schools are subdivided on city and rural according to the status of the settlement. However there is a noticeable difference among rural schools, for example, between school in the settlement of the regional center and the village. Also it is traced at city schools when one of them is located in the suburbs, and another – in the center.

The arrangement of school is one of the defining factors of the social and economic status of the school itself. Generally children go to the school located close to the place of their residence. At suburban schools the children living near the city or on suburbs are learned. Division on city and rural, complete and law- complete schools doesn't allow considering all variety of schools fully.

For example, in Australia[4] and the USA[5] schools are classified by remoteness from the city and a geographical arrangement. In the USA schools share on city, suburban, schools of the small cities and rural. In Australia – being in the capital, the cities of regional value, villages and the remote settlements. Schools at distance of 1,5-3 hours' journey from the regional center are rural, and more than 3 hours remote.  

In Hamburg (Germany) a social index of schools has been developed[6]. This index represents a scale from 1 to 6. The lowest scale 1, corresponds to the low social and economic status of school, and the highest scale 6 is awarded to school with favorable conditions. For development of this status survey of parents and pupils is conducted, data of management of statistics (a share of the unemployed receiving allocations, participations in elections) are also used. According to this index of school get targeted support in the form of additional resources for various needs.

Distinctions in fullness of the Kazakhstan schools are observed. In the downtown often schools are crowded (reaches to 2500 at design capacity 1200). And at suburban schools 700-800 pupils, as well as at schools of the regional centers (are learned at design capacity 1000). It is proved that the more the contingent of pupils is the higher a criminal situation at school is. By results of research in the USA criminal incidents happen: 38% in small, 60% in averages and 89% at big schools. For safety, the school has to be the following sizes: the initial – 300-400, the main – 300-600, senior – 400-800 people.[7]

According to OECD[8] the educational environment and the school building influence progress of children. Such factors as temperature, ventilation and safety are basic conditions of educational process. Quality of the educational environment can increase progress of pupils to 25%[9]. 42,5% of rural small-class schools in Kazakhstan are located in the adapted buildings. And in 28,2% of schools use imported water. 56% of rural schools have only outdoor toilets. 10,3% of rural schools have stove heating.  

According to the School training center (USA)[10] pupils of rural schools successfully finish school program, teachers face less disciplinary problems.

But indicators of progress of rural and small-class, suburban and city schools differ. In PISA research results of school students are divided into five categories on location of school: the megalopolis (it is more than 1 million inhabitants), the city (from 100 thousand to 1 million inhabitants), the monotown (from 15 thousand to 100 thousand inhabitants), the settlement of city type (from 3 thousand to 15 thousand inhabitants) and the village (it is less than 3 thousand inhabitants)[11].

Comparison of results of rural and city school students shows the gradual growth of a GPA from the small settlement in favor of the metropolis, and in the developed countries this tendency is also noticeable. The difference on mathematics between the pupil of the village and metropolis is equal in Kazakhstan to 25 points, on average over the countries of OECD – 32 points. If to consider the social and economic status of the pupil, the difference between the city and rural school student in Kazakhstan makes 11 points, in OECD – 13 points[12]. Also, between city school students of Kazakhstan and OECD there is a difference in 55 points, and between rural – 48 points. Also, between city school students of Kazakhstan and OECD there is a difference in 55 points, and between rural – 48 points.

The gap in progress is also shown by results of national tests. Following the results of an external assessment of educational achievements of pupils of the 9th classes rural school students lag behind city contemporaries almost on 4 points (39,23 / 35,42)[13]. City school students also ahead on UNT[14] (Unified National Testing). In 2015 graduates of city schools gathered on 7,35 points more than rural (83,02 / 75,67).  

Comparing city and rural schools, it is necessary to consider qualitative structure of teachers, infrastructure, financing, material base, etc.

In Kazakhstan six teachers from ten (61,6%) work at rural schools. Only 87,7% of them have the higher education and 14% - the highest category, in the city these indicators are much higher – 99,6% and 27% respectively. According to OECD[15], on average in settlements of the developed countries (it is less than 15 thousand) 89,9% of teachers have the higher or postgraduate education. In the cities (it is more than 100 thousand inhabitants) 92,2% have the higher education.

Perhaps, low indicators in villages are linked with limited opportunities of professional development, geographical remoteness, and shortage of training materials. Besides, there is a deficiency of pedagogical personnel in many rural schools. Every year according to the program "With diploma – to the village!», young teachers go to work in villages. On initiatives of mayors dot measures for support of young specialists are realized. But constant feedback isn't present. Not new that many young specialists, having fulfilled few years, go back to the city in search of new prospects. Every year the profession is left by approximately 15 thousand rural teachers. 1,5 % of them are young specialists, many leave because of lack of an academic load and living space.

Many countries, including Russia and the USA face the same problem. In Russia the Mobile Teacher project[16] in several regions is realized. In the project the city teacher attends rural schools several times a week by an official car where he teaches generally, English. And in the USA[17] teachers of rural schools can teach several subjects.

On the basis of complete big rural schools the resource centers (basic schools) for support of small-class schools are created. There is a question: whether small-class schools will pull these rural schools down? It should not be forgotten that small-class schools represent a half of rural schools. If to solve small-class schools problem, the rupture of progress between rural and city schools will be cut only by half. After all during the closing or consolidation of small-class schools at the level of the main and elementary schools, it will be necessary to strengthen the capacity of complete big rural schools.

In Shanghai (China)[18] on the contrary city schools support rural schools. The program developed in China is directed on inside regional exchange of pedagogical personnel, financial and material resources; improvement of management and efficiency; improvement of education quality.

In the USA[19] and Australia[20] there are special grants for supporting rural schools (from $10 to $60 thousand dollars). In Canada the congress of rural education functions for 20 years where the best experience of teaching, questions of school management, interrelation of local society, finance, etc. discussions are carried out. Also, in Australia there are the national frame and the plan of action on development of rural education. Similar programs of support of rural schools work also in Kazakhstan, but they have local and separate character. The Ministry of Education and Science realized in 2003-2005 the Rural School program, the Ministry of Agriculture – the State program of development of rural territories for 2004-2010, within which work on support of schools was carried out.

It is necessary to pay attention to the following measures for further development of rural education.

First, it is necessary to enter new classification of schools by location or fullness of schools on the basis of the international experience. Classification of schools will allow distributing effectively financial and human resources, to give targeted support to schools.

Secondly, it is necessary to develop the mechanism of ensuring continuous professional development of rural teachers by means of offside events. Also, it is necessary to provide the due educational environment at rural schools.

Thirdly, it is necessary to develop the general strategy of a development of education in the village which will include system approaches on improvement of indicators. Improvement of quality of education in the village will allow making equal chances of rural children. Equality in education is a key to stable development of the country.

[1]Data of the Food and agricultural UN organizations "The annual collection on statistics-2014"

[2]Structure of Gross domestic product, quarterly, Committee according statistics of MNE of Republic of Kazakhstan

[3]National collection of educational statistics, 2015

[8]OECD 2014: Learning environments evaluation program, Creating effective learning environment

[12]OECD (2013): PISA Excellence through equity: giving every student the chance to succeed: Volume II

[13] Analysis of 2015 EAEA results

[14] Analysis of 2015 UNT results

[15]TALIS 2013 Results: An International perspective on teaching and learning