ASTANA -- Kazakhstani libraries have started replacing old, Soviet-era propaganda textbooks with modern up-to-date titles under the "100 New Textbooks in Kazakh" project launched by President Nursultan Nazarbayev last year.
The first batch of newly translated books was presented at the M. Auezov South Kazakhstan State University in Shymkent on May 4, reported Khabar 24 TV.
"The textbooks are written in simple, accessible language and contain many subjects that were either not covered in our local literature or were very seldom encountered," according to the TV channel.
"A total of 18 books have been translated currently, and each book has 10,000 copies," Alibek Kisybay, project co-ordinator for the National Translations Bureau, told the channel. "[University] students will start using these textbooks in the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year."
"The electronic versions of all the textbooks are available on our website," he added.
"These are best-selling textbooks on sociology, philosophy, psychology, linguistics and other areas of focus in the humanities," Alikhan Tuyebai, the co-ordinator of the project, told Caravanserai.
Major universities around the world have endorsed the selected texts, which have been republished many times and have won positive feedback from readers and scholars, he said.
Thirty more books are scheduled for publication in the Kazakh language this year and "the other 52 books will be translated and printed over the next few years", according to Tuyebai.
Improving education standards
Nazarbayev's initiative is aimed at raising education standards in Kazakhstan.
"We need ... to give our youth the opportunity to learn in accordance with the world's best standards," Nazarbayev said in a statement published April 12, 2017. "We should begin using these textbooks to teach our [university] students in the 2018-2019 school year."
"Translating 100 of the leading textbooks in social sciences and the humanities is the right step toward helping form the younger generation of Kazakhstanis, educated in the spirit of competitiveness and pragmatism," according to website for the "100 New Textbooks in Kazakh" project.
This undertaking is the first of its scale to be implemented in Kazakhstan, said Dinara Karimova, a manager of the state-run "Tugan Jer" (Native Land) project aimed at preserving the spiritual and cultural heritage of Kazakhstan.
Among the books published is "The Social Animal" by American social psychologist Elliot Aronson. The book, first published in 1972 and now translated into 14 languages, examines what modern psychology knows about human behaviour.
Another book being published in the Kazakh language is "The Fourth Industrial Revolution" by German economist Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland. Originally released in January 2017, the book describes the large-scale transformations occurring in the modern world and how the introduction of new technologies affects all areas of human life.
Getting rid of Soviet propaganda
"It is nice to read this kind of ... literature in my native language," said Dauren Saburov, 20, of Astana.
"Some of the Russian textbooks that are used to teach us are a legacy from the Soviet era and contain the corresponding propaganda," he told Caravanserai. "That is why such modern books, especially published in Kazakh, are very needed."
Saburov, who attended an exhibition of the books in Astana on April 14, already bought some new books and intends to buy some more or read them in the library.
One of the books scheduled for publication soon in Kazakh is titled "Entrepreneurship: Theory, Process, and Practice" by American scholar Donald F. Kuratko. For 30 years, this book has been the gold standard for teaching entrepreneurship skills.
Sanjar Jetpisbayev, a student at the Kazakh University of Technology and Business in Astana, said he hopes to soon study from such books.
"I would like for these textbooks to be here with us by the new school year," he told Caravanserai. "They are comprehensible books; some of them I already read in English. Now I am very glad that they are going to be in Kazakh."