At the same time, more than a third of the respondents are sympathetic to these measures but believe that the authorities needed to better prepare for the school year.
DEMOSCOPE Bureau of Express Monitoring of Public Opinion conducted a survey of citizens on the topic “Distance education in Kazakhstan”. In total, from 6 to 9 October 2020, 1,100 people were interviewed in 14 regions and cities (Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent). The survey was conducted in the Kazakh and Russian languages through telephone calls to landline numbers. The survey involved 25% of men and 75% of women over 18 years old. The sampling was based on the subscriber base of stationary telephone numbers in Kazakhstan. For this sample, the maximum size of the statistical error with a 95% probability does not exceed 3%.
One of the most controversial issues of concern to many Kazakhstanis is distance learning. The poll by the DEMOSCOPE Bureau showed that Kazakhstanis were divided in their assessment of online learning. Realizing that these measures are forced and are introduced to curb the spread of coronavirus, citizens expect more effective work from the authorities.
At the same time, the majority of respondents – 43% are categorically against online distance learning. 38% of Kazakhstanis are sympathetic to remote sensing but believe that the authorities needed to better prepare for the new academic year. 16% of respondents fully support the online format, considering it a necessary measure.
According to the survey, the overwhelming majority of citizens rate the effectiveness of online learning below average (42%) and average (41%). Only 12% of the respondents gave a high rating to the new form of education.
Paper Lab’s study of teachers, students and education experts also confirms that distance learning has an extremely negative impact on the country’s education system. Assessment of knowledge in online schools has become formal. The marks were not given according to the students’ progress, but according to the marks in the previous three terms. Obviously, the teachers tried in this way to exclude or minimize the negative impact of new circumstances on the final grades of schoolchildren. In general, this tendency is associated with ill-considered adaptation to distance learning.
Probably, such a low assessment of distance learning in the country is associated with general unpreparedness for the new form of education and material and technical difficulties. DEMOSCOPE survey data showed that a third of the respondents (30%) believe that the main disadvantage of distance learning is stress for children, teachers, and parents. 28% of the participants answered that learning is mainly hampered by technical difficulties and slow Internet connection. In terms of regions, most of all technical difficulties with the Internet are experienced by residents of the East Kazakhstan, North Kazakhstan and Zhambyl regions – 44%, 39% and 40%, respectively.
According to 19% of respondents, the main disadvantage of online learning is the low quality of education. 9% of respondents consider the lack of a computer to be the main difficulty.
Internet connection quality is one of the top factors in online learning. The results of the DEMOSCOPE study showed that half of the surveyed citizens (49%) have an average Internet speed, sometimes there are difficulties. A quarter of citizens (25%) have poor Internet quality, and there is always slow internet in their area.
The low speed of the Internet more than others (35%) was noted by residents of Almaty, West Kazakhstan and Karaganda regions. For 22% of respondents, the speed of the Internet connection is good, no complaints. The highest percentage of high marks for Internet quality (38%) is in Nur-Sultan and Kyzylorda region. This indicator reflects the deepening inequality in access to education during the pandemic.
42% of citizens rated the work of government agencies in the field of organizing distance education as average. In their opinion, some of the problems remained unresolved. 13% of the respondents believe that the authorities did an excellent job. A third of Kazakhstanis oppose them (36%). They believe that distance learning is a failure, and the Ministry of Education was not ready for online learning.
An important indicator of public sentiment is the attitude of citizens to measures taken by the government. It is interesting that on the question of what form of education citizens consider the most optimal in the context of the global coronavirus pandemic, the opinions of the respondents were approximately equally divided. 35% believe that it is necessary to give people the right to choose a convenient form of education; 33% of Kazakhstanis are for online education, as this is a forced measure; 29% expressed skepticism about the online format. In their opinion, it is better to go to school and university as before. Illiteracy is worse than the coronavirus.
The results of a survey conducted by DEMOSCOPE Bureau of Public Opinion show that distance learning does not suit Kazakhstanis largely due to the lack of material and technical conditions and the unpreparedness of the education system for the new academic year. Also, the survey data demonstrate an increase in regional inequality between students, including due to different access to the Internet.
The telephone survey was carried out by KT Cloud Lab LLP contact center.
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The project is implemented by MediaNet International Centre for Journalism with the support of Konrad Adenauer Foundation Office in Kazakhstan. The survey data reflect the point of view of the respondents. For additional information, please, contact the project coordinator Snezhana Tsoy: Snezhana.firstname.lastname@example.org.