Steinhardt Student Founds Nonprofit, Provides Educational Opportunities in Kazakhstan

NYU Steinhardt News

Steinhardt Student Founds Nonprofit, Provides Educational Opportunities in Kazakhstan

Zhannat Bubekbayeva (MA ’18), graduate student in our International Education program, is providing vulnerable populations in Kazakhstan with English language and vocational training through her nonprofit timur academy. We spoke with Zhannat to learn about the motivation behind the timur academy and her experience teaching at the center.

What prompted you to found your nonprofit, and why did you want to start an education center that teaches in the nation’s native language?

We started timur academy learning center as a nonprofit to compensate for the dearth of quality educational content available in the Kazakh language. While we teach at the center, we also offer online courses for those who live in different regions of the country. In Kazakhstan, the majority of educational centers offer their courses and programs in Russian. However, a large proportion of the country’s population does not speak any Russian at all. By founding timur academy, we were able to meet the demand for academic content in Kazakh as well as promote the national language, which had been suppressed by the Soviet government for decades. We offer Academic English, General English, IELTS/TOEFL Preparation, Computer Programming, Social Media Marketing, Accounting Basics, Robotics, Self-Awareness, Critical Thinking, Public Speaking, and Time Management courses in Kazakh and English.

The initial goal of our nonprofit was to provide vulnerable Kazakh-speaking adults (low SES, suburban) and NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) youth with accessible and high-quality educational opportunities. For the past year, we have been providing our courses for free.

What has been your experience teaching English at the center?

I spent this summer teaching an intensive English course to Kazakh adults. Because Kazakhstan has just transitioned into a trilingual education system – Kazakh, Russian, and English – the demand for the English language is now higher than ever, and a teacher with an English Language credential can now gain a 25 percent increase in pay. Most of my students, therefore, were secondary school teachers, as they have a new incentive to start teaching their subjects in English. It was an invaluable and enjoyable experience for me as I got to work with like-minded educators whom I shared my passion with.

How has your time at Steinhardt helped you in creating and growing your nonprofit, and how do you hope to use your International Education degree to further your career goals?

The theoretical knowledge I have gained at Steinhardt so far has helped me design and implement programs at our learning center. The practical skills I have acquired have facilitated me in evaluating the programs, analyzing the student body, assessing their outcomes, and finally modifying the academic content.

How do you hope to use your International Education degree to further your career goals?

I intend to devote my career to improving educational policies of Kazakhstan. My degree in International Education will be my faithful companion in this life-long journey.