About the love of education, work and conducting STEM courses for teachers

Tell us a little about yourself – when did you finish your studies at NU, where do you work now?
Good afternoon! My name is Yerlan Uteulin. In November of 2016, I graduated with an MBA from the Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business, from the full-time program. Since then I have been working at the Non-profit Joint-Stock Company “Republican Physics and Mathematics School”.
 
Why did you choose to work in the field of education?
After completing my studies, I received many offers, including those related to work in the banking and financial sector. But I chose my current job, because I wanted to do something useful for society and the sphere of education has always been interesting to me. I believe that it is important to improve the level of education of students in Kazakhstan and the training received during my MBA is very applicable to this issue. In a modern school, we need to correctly and competently approach the organization of all educational processes, so that the learning process can become interesting and useful and students will be able to independently solve the tasks assigned to them.

I will not hide the fact that I had some doubts. The deciding factors for me were that I would have the chance to work with professionals in the sphere of education and my desire for new experiences that would contribute to my growth and help society.   I saw that this opportunity would put me in touch with people whom I could learn a lot from in terms of professional project management, achieving strategic goals, and acquiring the necessary skills for competent management. And I have never regretted my choice.

Now I work on the board of the Republican Physics and Mathematics School (RFMS), and I am involved in various projects related to the introduction of new teaching methods, cooperation with international organizations, and educational training for teachers from other schools, etc. Since March of this year with the support of Chevron, we plan to travel to the regions of Kazakhstan in order to conduct field trainings for teachers in urban and rural schools.

Tell us more about this project – how the idea came to start it, and its current state.
In fact, RFMS implements a lot of projects, both local and international. One of such projects is STEM courses for teachers throughout Kazakhstan.
Our teachers themselves had previously been trained by foreign experts in the field of education, on the basis of which they developed their own course, based also on their teaching experience. And now they are ready to share these developments with their colleagues in the regions.

Since 2017, we have been actively conducting training in various subjects based on experiences from our schools. In 2019, we decided that we should not limit these training opportunities only to the large cities, but that they should also be available in other regions of the country.

Our main goal is to improve the quality of teaching STEM subjects in the republic. We believe that by educating more than 2,000 teachers, we will help them to reach more students, and instill a countrywide love of science in more than 400,000 students.

In the second half of this year we plan to hold the Republican festival of STEM teachers. This event will be prepared exclusively for teachers, where they will be able to demonstrate their projects and share best practices with their colleagues. The philosophy of our festival is “From Teacher to Teacher”, which implies an unselfish desire to share their knowledge. This event is meant to be collaborative in spirit, and should not be seen as a competitive one, there is no plan to award any prizes or gifts at the close of the event as is often done.

 
What did NU give you? Did the knowledge acquired at the university help your life?
As you know, today any knowledge can be obtained on the Internet, so I would rather speak not about knowledge as such, but about other things that I acquired while studying at Nazarbayev University.

First of all, there is global thinking. Professors from around the world have helped us shape our vision and realize that the world is not so huge. All projects that we deal with in Kazakhstan can be shared on a wider scale.  For example, in the Russian Higher School of Music, we have already held an olympiad for primary school, where children from 6 countries took part; we organize summer camps that are in high demand, with representatives from 5 countries both near and far abroad; and finally, we organize our trainings, which we conduct for teachers in Central Asia.

Secondly, I have made loyal friends here. I think everyone will agree with me that one of the most important things that you can get while studying at a business school is networking. At NU, it turned out a little differently. It was not just communication and business contacts. I have found more here – faithful friends – that I see not only on holidays, but also continue to work with implementing joint projects.

And finally, I gained confidence in my abilities here. I must say that the whole environment surrounding you at the Graduate School of Business is very good at supporting students, and in building our confidence that we can do anything.  Professors, friends, administration, the school building, and the university campus as a whole are part of our support system. For 14 months of training, I got a huge boost of energy and faith in my strength here.  Finally, all my relatives proudly say about me – “he studied at NU!” (laughs).