ASTANA -- Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev Wednesday (April 12) set out a timeline for his ex-Soviet country to switch from Cyrillic letters to the Latin alphabet as part of a modernisation drive.
The 76-year-old leader has long called for ditching the Cyrillic alphabet -- which Kazakhstan inherited from tsarist and Soviet times -- in favour of the more widely used Latin one.
In an article published in the state-owned Egemen Kazakhstan newspaper Nazarbayev called for the government to begin "preparatory work" and "create a schedule" for the switch.
"By the end of 2017, after consultation with academics and representatives of the public, a single standard for the new Kazakh alphabet and script should be developed," Nazarbayev wrote.
"From 2018, [Kazakhstan] must train specialists to teach the new alphabet and produce textbooks for secondary schools," Nazarbayev added in the Kazakh-language paper.
Nazarbayev has said in the past that the country should switch to the Latin alphabet by 2025.
The Kazakh language is part of the Turkic family, like Turkish. It currently uses a modified version of the Cyrillic alphabet with 42 letters.