Kazakhstan: Since 2004, there is a Waldorf kindergarten in Almaty and in the fall of 2006 the Waldorf initiative also started a school with a first grade. Due to the country’s political situation and the interests of some politicians, who do not wish to see alternatives to the existing public school system, conditions have been rather difficult for the young initiative so far. Nevertheless, meanwhile 20 children between two and six years attend kindergarten and an additional four to six students attend each school grade.
The Waldorf initiative in Almaty is revolutionary. It is not only one of the rare alternatives in the educational landscape of Kazakhstan, but also a complete contradiction to public education. A school whose goal is to ensure that each child receives enough space and time to develop its skills - the contrast could hardly be greater. But it was precisely the desire of some parents, to allow their children an education without this fundamental principle of hardness, which made them aware of Waldorf education in their search for an alternative to public school. And as a result the first Waldorf kindergarten was established in Almaty.
Support from Finland – but not from the own government
From the beginning onwards, the teachers of the young Waldorf school received support from a Waldorf teacher from Finland, who taught them singing, playing the flute and many other artistic skills. Since the official language is Russian, Kazakh and English are taught as foreign languages. Therefore it was necessary to learn simple songs for the language lessons. Furthermore mentors from abroad helped the staff with concerns on how to divide the main lesson and how to bring a lesson to life. Regularly the teachers participate in teacher training in Bishkek, where their understanding of Waldorf education is deepened.
Since the initiative in Almaty receives no government support, it must charge fees - for kindergarten as well as for school -, which are based on the parent’s income. Unfortunately, as a result there is not enough money in the school budget. Therefore, the school is especially interested in sponsorships for individual students, since such sponsorships would contribute to a necessary increase in the teaching staff.