Published on Voices

A citizen who cares

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Teenagers hanging out. Kazakhstan. Photo: Gulbakyt Dyussenova/ World Bank Painfully but effectively, COVID-19 has permanently changed our educational system for the better in Kazakhstan. Photo: Gulbakyt Dyussenova/ World Bank

Who is responsible for learning losses from COVID-19? Is it the Kazakhstani government who failed to provide internet to remote areas of the country within the first months of the pandemic? Or is it students, like me, who logged in to Zoom at 7:55 a.m. from bed while still wearing pajamas with more interest in sleeping than in learning? Now, it does not matter. What matters is removing educational gaps and preparing for our future.

Perhaps, my government failed to care about eradicating corruption; perhaps, my government failed to care about the old; but never did my government fail to care about the young. Although they took months to establish the online educational infrastructure, they continuously support it today. In fact, the hybrid study approach solved an even earlier pre-pandemic problem. Previously, schools in northern Kazakhstan were closed when temperature reached below -22 degrees Fahrenheit. Students would stay home for days or even for weeks without learning anything. Today, by distributing over 400 thousand laptops to children in need and providing 5G internet to remote areas, most students can access education, no matter what temperature is outside.

Yes, I blame students for learning losses, too. In the beginning of the pandemic, instead of setting up the table and opening a notebook to prepare for a morning class, most of us lounged in our comfortable beds. When it was time to return to in-person classes, we realized how much we lost. It was time to act! And just like bees build hives; piece by piece, we started building back our community and regaining our lost knowledge. For example, at my school, teachers tutored us in STEM and in humanities during the office hours. To demonstrate our gratitude, we regularly organized musical performances. Today, the school hive that we carefully constructed has become more resilient than it ever was before the pandemic.

Painfully but effectively, COVID-19 has permanently changed our educational system for the better. While we are still in the recovery mode, the system promotes its initiatives to prepare the young for their future. It highlights the flexibility and efficiency of hybrid education that can later be implemented at work. Besides, a steady move towards a complete paperless approach pushes us towards becoming environmentally sustainable. Indeed, the educational system does not only assist us in preparing for our future jobs but also prepares us to remain resilient during unpredictable turmoils like COVID-19. Occasionally, I still log in to my morning Zoom class wearing pajamas when it is -22 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet, instead of lying in bed, I readily sit at my desk to learn and become a citizen who cares.


Announcing winners of the fifth World Bank and Financial Times youth blog competition


Aizhan Karpykova

Winner, 5th Annual World Bank/Financial Times blog competition

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