Kazakhstan is located in the heart of the Eurasian continent. Its territory occupies 2, 724, 900 square kilometers (1,049,150 square miles). It is the CIS’ second and world’s ninth largest country. The Kazakhstan territory is larger than the twelve countries of the European Union! Kazakhstan borders with China, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Russia. The total length of the borderline is 12,187km.
Kazakhstan stretches for more than 3,000 km (covering two time zones) from the lower reaches of the Volga in the west to the foothills of the Altai Mountains in the east, and almost 2,000 km from the West Siberian Lowland in the north to the Kyzyl Kum desert in the south.
The remoteness of the country from the oceans and the vastness of its territory affect the climatic conditions of Kazakhstan. The climate is sharply continental with an average temperature between – 19…-4 degree in January and between +19…+26 degree in July. The temperature in winter can lower to – 45 degree while in summer rise up to +30 degree.
Education is universal and mandatory through to the secondary level and the adult literacy rate is 99.5%. Education consists of three main phases: primary education (forms 1–4), basic general education (forms 5–9) and senior level education (forms 10–11 or 12) divided into continued general education and vocational education. Vocational Education usually lasts 3 or 4 years. (Primary education is preceded by one year of pre-school education.) These levels can be followed in one institution or in different ones (e.g., primary school, then secondary school). Recently, several secondary schools, specialised schools, magnet schools, gymnasiums, lyceums and linguistic and technical gymnasiums have been founded. Secondary professional education is offered in special professional or technical schools, lyceums or colleges and vocational schools.
At present, there are universities, academies and institutes, conservatories, higher schools and higher colleges. There are three main levels: basic higher education that provides the fundamentals of the chosen field of study and leads to the award of the Bachelor’s degree; specialised higher education after which students are awarded the Specialist’s Diploma; and scientific-pedagogical higher education which leads to the Master’s Degree. Postgraduate education leads to the Kandidat Nauk (“Candidate of Sciences”) and the Doctor of Sciences (Ph.D.). With the adoption of the Laws on Education and on Higher Education, a private sector has been established and several private institutions have been licensed.