Businessman and philanthropist Galimzhan Yessenov and his charitable The Shakhmardan Yessenov Foundation opens the application process for the Orleu Program. Launched in 2022, the Program aims to promote social mobility by providing higher education grants for talented young Kazakhstanis from low-income families. Aigerym Sultan, Program Manager, answers frequently asked questions related to the Program.

If there are state and other educational grants, why do the Orleu grants remain in demand though they are allocated for one year only, not for the whole period of undergraduate study?
Unlike with state and other educational grants, school leavers and college graduates who haven’t won a state grant but who want to get higher education, can participate in the Orleu Program. They study well but, let’s say, narrowly missed achieving a pass. Yes, the grant is allocated only for one academic year, but the grant holders have the right to participate in the competition and win it every year. One has to study well throughout the year, because the Foundation pays tuition fees on a per-semester basis. We consider it wrong to pay tuition fees all at once. Such an approach stimulates the program winners and keeps them on their toes. The students face a direct correlation between receiving a grant for free higher education and their own academic success.

What does the Foundation Program grant include?
It includes annual tuition fees at the university the student has chosen (from 1,100,000 tenge, for example, at Suleyman Demirel University, to 1,400,000 tenge at S.D. Asfendiyarov Kazakh National Medical University) and a monthly scholarship from this September to June of the next year at the rate of 3,692 tenge (1 MCI) for each calendar day. The Foundation also provides compensation for accommodation in a dormitory in the amount of up to 200,000 tenge per year.

 Who can apply to the Program?
Firstly, the Program is for the citizens of Kazakhstan only. The second requirement is that those seeking a higher education should be from low-income families and not be holders of a state or any other similar grant. Among them there may be those applying for a grant for the first time, as well as winners of the Orleu Program in previous years. Thus, we give them the opportunity to complete their studies, but they should participate in the competition along with other applicants on equal basis. And the third point is that the applicants should be good students – with grades from four (4) and above on a five-point scale or their equivalents of letter, percentage based grading system in educational certificates or GPA not lower than 2.67.

You also have certain requirements for the chosen specialties…
Yes, there is a specific range of specialties in all programs of the Foundation. Traditionally, they are mainly natural and exact sciences, such as geology and related specialties, physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, IT, engineering and others. However, back in 2023, demonstrating flexibility, we expanded the list of specialties and added some pedagogical specialties in natural sciences. The full list of specialties in accordance with the classification for training specialists, is specified in the Provisions of the Program (“General Terms”, clause 1.1.).

How to submit an application for The Shakhmardan Yessenov Foundation Orleu Program grant?
We give two months to submit an application – from May 22 through July 22. A wide range of dates will allow the grant applicants to retake the UNT and send a certificate with the best result to the Foundation. Some of the students have already chosen a university, while others are still to make their choice. As for submitting an application, one has to start by studying information about the Program on the Foundation’s website. Then collect all the documents required. And submit an online application on the Foundation’s website.

What documents are to be submitted?
To say briefly, these are the child representative’s documents and the grant applicant’s documents. In the first case, you have to submit certificates on family’s financial status, a certificate confirming entrepreneurial activity or absence thereof, statement of the representative’s pension contributions, and information about the presence/absence of housing, a car, a subsidiary plot and other property that confirm the low-income of the competitor. In the second case, an applicant submits an identity card, a motivation letter and, of course, a secondary school certificate/college diploma, the UNT certificate, transcript for higher education students. There may be some other documents. All the necessary information on this topic one may find in the Program Provisions on the Foundation’s website.

What is the procedure of the competition?
It will be held in two stages. At the first round, the Foundation’s employees review the received applications and exclude applicants who do not meet the requirements of the Competition Provisions. Then the applications are assessed by the experts – we will invite 2-3 people, depending on the number of applications. These are young scientists or professionals, winners of the Foundation’s programs in previous years, people who are already working and have made good progress in their activities. The list of those who will advance to the second round will be published on the Foundation’s website no later than July 31. After it and until August 9, a psychologist-trainer together with the Foundation’s employees will conduct an online personal and a group interview with applicants. At this stage, it will be important for us to understand why do the young people want to study, i.e. what is their motivation level. We will make a decision according to those results. It will be approved by the order of the Executive Director of the Foundation in the form of an official list of winners, which will be published on the website.

When will it be published?
On August 12. The winners will be determined 2-3 days after the publication of the list of the winners of the state educational grant. It is important, since there may also be holders of the government grants among our winners. Thus, they will have the right to choose either our grant or the state one.

What was the number of the Foundation Orleu Program’s grant holders for the first two years of its existence?
In 2022, there were four winners of the competition. We received few applications because not many people knew about the Program. In 2023, there were already five winners, two of them were the Orleu grant holders in the previous year. They had good academic performance, successfully passed the competition on equal basis, received our grant and continued their studies in the second year at their higher education institutions. It is not unlikely that some of them will apply this year too.

How many applications did you receive in the first and in the second year of the Program?
In 2022, there were 33 applications. In 2023, 43 applications were submitted. 

In your opinion, why the Orleu Program is kind of a challenge for the Foundation?
It is the first and only program of the Foundation aiming to help talented children from low-income families. All other programs are not tied either to social or to financial status of the candidates. Besides, the Orleu Program is the only the Yessenov Foundation program which implies participation of the applicants who plan to study pedagogy. And, of course, we know that the number of the Program applicants will not be high, because they doubt what will happen if they don’t win the Orleu grant to pay the tuition fees in the second year and beyond. Therefore, our Program is meant for brave and determined students who are aware of their risks and are ready to accept them because real winners also do like this. When the Program started, we fully realized that notwithstanding little demand and difficulties, we must give talented and well-performing Kazakhstanis from low-income families a chance to get higher education.

21.05.24, Newsfeed, Newsfeed

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