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In March 2016, Vancouver (Canada) hosted the 60th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), bringing together more than two thousand participants – researchers, academics and practitioners in a variety of fields and disciplines. CIES was founded in 1956 to promote cross-cultural understanding; social development in the context of international scientific research; and, the development of educational ideas, systems and practices.

Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools was represented at the conference by a paper on “Action Research and Lesson Study in the Kazakhstan Context”, written by I.A. Madeyeva and B.K. Nassygazy of the Research Department and J.B. Saltybayeva of the the Centre of Excellence.

The paper dealt with with the development of the professional identity of teachers through reflective skills, covering the benefits as well as the difficulties encountered in bringing together these two approaches in order to improve teaching practice. Following the presentation of the paper, questions were asked on the features and implementation of action research and lesson study, as well as on NIS as a national scale educational network.

Among the participants were leading international organizations including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the US Agency for International Development (USAID); the Open Society Foundation (OSF) and a variety of organizations and institutions conducting and sponsoring international programmes and projects aimed at addressing educational issues in countries where there is conflict and problems of equal access to education for all levels of the population.

NIS’s partners, Cambridge University and Nazarbayev University, presented their joint study “From the UK to Kazakhstan: understanding, adapting and measuring school students’ wellbeing and engagement in schools”, presented by Drs. Liz Winter, Rose McLellan and Daniel Torrano. Strong personal interest lay behind the preliminary report on the study “Teacher professionalism in Kazakhstan: alternatives to rationalization”, presented by Professor Elaine Wilson of the Faculty of Education and the NIS Centre of Excellence. This paper dealt with the results of the multilevel training courses.

Especially noteworthy were the presentations by CIES President, Professor N’Dri Assié-Lumumba of Cornell University; Professor Mark Bray of the University of Hong Kong; and Professor Joshua A. Muskin of the Center for Universal Education, all emphasizing the importance of research for the success of educational policies and reforms in the international context.

Themes raised at the symposiums, plenary and special interest group sessions were focused on the interests of teaching in terms of sustainable development; citizenship education; and the development and implementation of a relevant curriculum aimed at the formation of the skills required by students in their daily lives in order to become “creators, repairers of an unknown tomorrow.”

Each of the five days of the conference cames to an end with “Cinematic spaces of education”, where the participants could watch documentaries raising serious educational issues, such the issue of the education of girls and women in Africa and the Middle East and their lack of access to education in refugee camps. The audience was actively involved in the discussion of these topics, leaving no one indifferent.

The conference was well supported by the website http://cies2016.org where the best presentations were reviewed daily. Click on this link to find a summary of the most interesting topics raised at the CIES 2016 conference.

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