Policy from below: STEM teachers’ response to EMI policy and policy-making in the mainstream schools in Kazakhstan

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Following the government’s trilingual education reforms in Kazakhstan, STEM subjects such as sciences, mathematics, and computer science were to be taught through English Medium Instruction (EMI) in mainstream schools. Policy observers thought that it was bound to challenge concerned teachers because they were not yet sufficiently prepared to teach these subjects through EMI. The present study seeks to examine the EMI policy and explore how STEM teachers in different parts of Kazakhstan understand the processes of policy-making and implementation. The study employs the public sphere paradigm as a conceptual frame, which emphasizes that language policy and planning (LPP) should be studied from the complex practices of the local stakeholders/communities. The study draws on qualitative interviews with 58 STEM teachers from six regions of Kazakhstan. Data show that the policy was made rather abruptly without any systematic piloting, or a careful analysis of teachers’ English language needs, and their pedagogical concerns. However, notwithstanding the lack of appropriate support, teachers still demonstrate some signs of self-reliance and responsive agency, where they creatively negotiate/appropriate the policy. We conclude that a well-meaning policy may face an implementational crisis when the onus falls only on teachers, without supplying them with the necessary support they need.




Manan, S. A., Mukhamediyeva, S., Kairatova, S., Tajik, M. A., & Hajar, A. (2024). Policy from below: STEM teachers’ response to EMI policy and policy-making in the mainstream schools in Kazakhstan. Current Issues in Language Planning, 25(1), 89–109. https://doi.org/10.1080/14664208.2023.2243170

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