This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 10/5/2020


  • The population of students aged 15-24 is over 2,290,000 and under age 15 - 5,214,000.
  • 604,345 students are enrolled in higher education institutions in Kazakhstan; over 160,000 high school students graduated in 2020.
  • Over 84,000 students study abroad and 1,879 studied in the United States (2018-19).
  • Fall 2020 secondary education will be conducted online at over 7,000 schools and over 350,000 teachers currently receive training in IT and ‘cyber-pedagogy.’
  • There is a lack of curated digital learning material despite good connectivity, especially in light of COVID-19.
  • The college-aged population will expand considerably thru 2030 and this is expected to fuel continued growth in the number of outbound students.
  • Government education spending will increase to USD 27 billion thru 2025.
The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled adoption of technology in support of remote learning, distance education and online learning.  In response to the pandemic, local governments struggled to transition schools  to online learning platforms, largely due to inadequate technology.   There were also challenges affecting internet access in rural areas.  Despite 78% internet coverage across the country and access to cheap cellular data, some rural areas with no access relied on TV and radio to transmit material to students.  Teacher training in cyber-pedagogy is a priority along with developing online digital learner content.  Even prior to the pandemic, the government was keenly focused on increasing digital capabilities in schools in Kazakhstan, but there is much room for improvement.
Current COVID-19 challenges include:
  • overall network capacity and connectivity issues;
  • limited access to devices for teachers, parents and learners;
  • lack of curated, appropriate digital learning material;
  • lack of material adapted for children with special learning needs;
  • lack of IT and pedagogical skills;
According to Kazakhstans Committee on Statistics, there are 604,345 students enrolled in higher education institutions in 129 universities nationwide in Academic Year 2019-20, with the highest concentrations of students in Almaty, Shymkent, Karaganda and Aktobe.  Additionally, slightly more than 70% of the students are self-funded and 27% are on state scholarships.  The college-aged population will expand considerably over the rest of this decade and this is expected to fuel continued growth in outbound student numbers: the population of students aged 15-24 is over 2,290,000 and under 15 is 5,214,000.
Unified National Testing
In 2020, over 160,000 students graduated from Kazakhstani high schools.  Students interested in pursuing higher education in Kazakhstan must undertake Unified National Testing (UNT), a national college entrance proficiency exam.  Students obtaining a minimum of 50 points out of 140 are eligible for government grants for higher education. In 2020, 80,000 students passed the UNT and 53,785 students received grants to pursue higher education in Kazakhstan – leaving approximately 26,000 students to self-fund or seek scholarships for study abroad.
The Bolashak Scholarship
The Bolashak is a prestigious national government scholarship program established in 1993.  It aims to assist talented young people to pursue master or doctoral degrees abroad.  The scholarship covers all costs related to education including tuition and fees, costs of travel and a living stipend.  The program requires all Bolashak recipients to work for five years in Kazakhstan upon completing their education abroad.  Since 1993 over 12,898 Kazakhstani students have received Bolashak Scholarships, with a capacity of 1,000 scholarship recipients per year.  The most popular countries for study under Bolashak are the U.K., U.S., Germany and Russia. The Bolashak program currently has agreements with 33 countries and 83 educational institutions worldwide, of which 31 are in the United States.
Although there is strong demand in Kazakhstan to study overseas at both undergraduate and graduate-levels, the total numbers of Kazakhstanis choosing to study in the U.S. has remained flat over the past five years (1,879 students in 2018-19 academic year).  Unlike the rest of Central Asia, Kazakhstan’s per-capita GDP has increased significantly, creating a burgeoning number of middle- and upper-class youth eager to travel and study abroad.  In addition, government policy encourages study abroad and has also dramatically increased English-language education nationwide over the past decade. The quality of students has been improving and with the introduction of new reforms and high-quality school technologies, student academic performance has improved by 15-20% since 2010. 
Despite Government efforts to introduce English as the third official language and building education facilities that have English language curriculum, Kazakhstan still ranks low on EF’s Global English Proficiency Index at #93 out of 100 countries ranked.
Leading Sub-Sectors                                                                  
Education Technology
The government will continue to seek digital learning content from sources abroad to be adapted to local standards.  The process has accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Over 7,000 schools will be operating online in fall 2020.
  • Lack of learning devices was cited as a key issue, especially in rural areas.
  • Lack of technical skills and cyber-cyber-pedagogy is a potential opportunity for U.S. education training providers.
  • The World Bank’s Education Modernization Project aims to support implementation of the Kazakhstan State Program for Education and Science Development. The country received a USD 60 million loan from the Bank to develop its education system.
  • Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools are training their 3,500 teachers in English and could be a potential partner for U.S. education technology companies.

U.S. Higher Education
Government reform aimed at  tightening licensing and qualification requirements of local universities in Kazakhstan has led some students to seek higher education abroad.  Currently, fewer than 5% Kazakhstani students enrolled overseas are studying in the United States and out of 80,000 students studying overseas, 80% are self-funded.
U.S. Community Colleges
Vocational education is underdeveloped as many vocational colleges and technical training schools were closed or transferred to other uses in the 1990s.  Vocational schools offer professional training for students who are not able or do not wish to pursue higher education.  Community colleges offering associate degrees in the U.S. could be a good fit for this specific category of students.
Degrees in Demand
The labor market demand for certain qualifications does not match  supply, mostly in technical professions. Major multinationals operating in the country since the mid-1990’s have regularly noted a “skills gap” – an insufficient supply of up-to-date technicians, engineers, scientists and managers capable of filling increasing demand.  There is growing interest among students in science and technical majors, including computer science and engineering, in addition to business and social sciences.  Government focus on developing the country’s abundant agricultural resources will also lead to increased demand for studies in agricultural business and economics, agronomy and crop science, animal sciences, water management and SMART agriculture.  
Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Bolashak Program
World Bank for Technical and Vocational Education Project
UNESCO International Students in Tertiary Education
For more information contact Commercial Specialist, Aliya Shaikhina

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Kazakhstan Education Trade Development and Promotion