Beginning his career as an English Language Instructor in the Foreign Language Department at the Osh State University, Duishon Alievich Shamatov is now an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Education of Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan.
Tell us about yourself, your early life and education?Born in the Soviet Union era, into a farmer’s family in 1969, I grew up in Otuz-Adyr village not far from the beautiful Osh town in Kyrgyzstan. I completed my high school from a Kyrgyz medium secondary school in my native village and then joined the Foreign Language Department at Osh State University (OSU), Kyrgyzstan to earn a five-year diploma in English. Soon after my first year, I had to leave the university to serve in the Soviet Army in the West Ukraine for two years. Under the Soviet rule, it was mandatory for all young men to join the army for two years as soon as they turned 18. It was my passion for education that brought me back to the university from the army after two years and I completed my remaining studies with distinction. Where and how did you start your journey as an educator? After the completion of my studies, the Osh State University hired me as an English Language Instructor which marked the beginning of my career as an educator.What brought you to AKU-IED?Being the youngest faculty at the Osh State University was an honor but at the same time I felt the need for further education and professional training to be able to handle the challenges I faced in the classroom as a novice language instructor. It was during my search for training opportunities when I met a team from AKU-IED which was visiting Kyrgyzstan. The group oriented us about AKU-IED and its Master of Education programme. I was very inspired by the mission AKU-IED was pursuing and was convinced that the MEd programme was what I needed to excel in my profession as an educationist. I applied for admission and went through a rigorous selection process. What had started off as a two-year programme became a never-ending crave for learning. How was the study experience at AKU-IED? Did it help you build and expand your professional capacity as an educator?Amidst all the initial challenges of adjusting in Karachi with a very warm climate and a very different culture, the knowledge and experience I gained at AKU-IED was invaluable. It was a great learning opportunity to interact with experienced scholars and a diverse group of peer-educators from around the world. I met a very large number of remarkable friends and I still keep in touch with many of them. The curriculum at AKU-IED was geared towards nurturing the future champions in us. I developed an in-depth understanding of educational issues and gained the confidence to inspire change.
AKU-IED ingrained in me the value of hard work and above all the love for learning. It sparked in me a keen interest in research. Day-by-day my curiosity to dig deeper into issues of educational change kept growing. I had already started thinking about going for a PhD in Education when I was studying for my MEd.How did the AKU-IED study experience help you become a better educator?When I returned to OSU in Kyrgyzstan after completing my MEd, I felt a positive shift in the way I interacted with my students and my colleagues. I was more open to listen to others and value their view points but at the same time grew constructively critical of ideas. My teaching skills improved considerably and I was able to engage my students in the learning process more effectively. You told us about your passion for research, did you pursue it further? How have you put your research skills to use? Yes, I did. I earned my PhD in Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education University of Toronto, Canada. After my PhD, I worked for AKU-IED and AKES Central Asia. I then worked for the University of Central Asia as a senior research fellow for different research projects. Also, I have been a consultant for various research projects in Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Yemen.Now, as an Associate Professor at the Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Education (NUGSE) in Astana, Kazakhstan, I am teaching research methods courses in the master and doctoral level programmes and also supervising PhD and MSc students. I have been an active contributor to the development of a research strategy for the Graduate School of Education. Undertaking research projects, both as a principal investigator and as a team member, has kept my passion for research alive. At NUGSE, I have been engaged in the joint research project of the Nazarbayev University and Cambridge University on school education. In addition, I conducted a research on developing an understanding of national policymakers’ use of data from large scale international student assessments, and another research on the PhD students of Kazakhstan and their challenges with the non-zero impact factor publications. How has your research benefited education in your context and elsewhere?The findings of my doctoral research on beginner teachers in Kyrgyzstan contributed to dialogues on education strategy development and system reform. Our recent research on secondary education in Kazakhstan has contributed to policy discussions and debates. A study on the local research capacity with PhD students, contributed to the national forum discussion on teaching research and supervision of PhD programmes in Kazakhstan.Tell us a little more about your recent research engagements?Currently, I am involved in several research projects. The Government of Kazakhstan has commissioned our team to design and conduct an evaluation study of the Bolashak scholarship (state-funded) programme in Kazakhstan. It is to study the effectiveness and impact of the programme through which over 10,000 youngsters from Kazakhstan have availed state grants to study abroad at undergraduate and graduate levels at top universities in the world.
What challenges does research face when it comes to its role in improving education in developing contexts? How are you contributing to address those as a researcher?Good quality research has a very important role in improving education. Unfortunately, many education policymakers in the developing countries do not use research findings to institute educational changes. This is primarily due to low quality of research as well as lack of awareness of the role of research in bringing education reforms. As a result, most of the reform ideas are merely borrowed and copied from other contexts. It is thus extremely important to develop research capacity and initiate dialogues on research and evidence-based decision making and reforms. In my role as a faculty at NUGSE, I strive to enable my students to build their research competence for a much more critical engagement with pressing educational issues, ask tough questions and provide insights that are of practical use to education practitioners and policy makers.