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New Kazakh language program to be offered at the University of Oxford

On 26 January, the University of Oxford signed an agreement with the Kazakh Ministry of Science and Higher Education with plans to launch a Kazakh language program at the University.

The delegation, including Minister Sayasat Nurbek and officials of major higher education institutions in Kazakhstan, met with the Associate Professor of Comparative and International Education, Professor Maia Chankseliani.

Professor Chankseliani told Cherwell: “We explored potential collaborations aimed at supporting Kazakhstani higher education and research. Such interactions with policy-makers are essential to ensure that our research and teaching remains focused on policy impact.”

This meeting follows the release of the Oxford Qazaq Dictionary, a four-year endeavour of over 50 linguists which seeks to preserve and digitise the Kazakh language. Published in late 2023, the first edition consists of 1,300 pages with over 60,000 words. This dictionary will serve as the basis for the incorporation of Qazaq into the Oxford Global Languages platform and thus is a key to joining the global linguistic community.

Professor Chankseliani also shared that Minister Sayasat Nurbek presented a copy of the new Oxford Qazaq dictionary as a gift, while she shared one of her recent books, Building Research Capacity at Universities: Insights from Post-Soviet Countries. 

Having claimed independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Kazakh government is looking to increase the use of its own state language. It has implemented a language policy concept between 2023-2029 which addresses boosts to the development of the Kazakh language. A draft law on media is also in the works. The Minister of Culture and Information, Aida Balayeva said: “[This law] stipulates an increase in the share of the state language in television and radio from 50% to 70%”

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