Kazakhs turn to Challenger for training expertise

Saturday, 01 November 2014
When the first and only president of Kazakhstan issued a decree to improve the country’s vocational education system, they found a perfect partner on the other side of the world.
 
Challenger Institute of Technology was one of just a handful of global partners enlisted to assist in the mission.
 
With a remit to develop and reform the training sector in the ninth largest country in the world, Kazakh company Kasipkor was enlisted to scour the globe in search of the right institutions to guide the important transformation.
 
It was a search that this week culminated in a delegation of Kazakh educators paying a two-week visit to Challenger, including a multi-day tour of the institute’s new Building Technologies Training Facility in Rockingham.
 
Challenger was the only Australian TAFE partner selected by Kasipkor. Other international partners came from the United Kingdom, Germany, United States and Canada.
 
With its capital, Astana, one of the fasting growing cities in the world, an adult literacy rate of almost 100 per cent, a debt-free and resource-rich economy growing at a faster rate than China’s, Kazakhstan is the envy of much of Asia and the world. 
 
The partnership between Challenger and Kasipkor focuses on improving curriculums, course delivery and assessment methods in the construction and information technology sectors.
 
Two Challenger lecturers, Colin Wilkins and Peter Owen, recently visited Kazakhstan to deliver a professional development program to 50 Ministry of Education teaching staff.
 
The construction and IT lecturers offered insight into the modern approach of technical and vocational trainers within their respective specialty areas.
 
A delegation of the 12 highest achievers from that program in Kazakhstan have toured Challenger, taking part in workshops, seminars and campus visits to learn more from Challenger and how to bolster their own vocational training infrastructure.
 
Speaking through an interpreter during a visit to the Rockingham campus, delegate member Saken Zhanatuly said one of the differences he had noticed between his own country and his Australian host was Challenger’s close relationship with industry.
 
“Your students have a much closer link to employers through apprenticeships and other programs, and you consult with industry in the formation of your curriculum, whereas we have far less of this sort of cooperation,” Mr Zhanatuly said.
 
Course specialisation was another area in which the visitors were keen to follow the Challenger and Australian model.
 
“Our students spread their training over a whole industry but do not always acquire the specialist skills required to produce quality work, so it has been refreshing to see how your students focus on one specialty, such as plastering or plumbing, rather than everything related to construction,” delegate Almagul Mukasheva said.
 
PHOTO CAPTION: Challenger lecture Colin Wilkins (right) with visiting Kazakh educator Aslan Temirbayev at Challenger’s state-of-the-art Building Technologies Training Facility.
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