As we approach the new educational season the Shakhmardan Yessenov Foundation is updating its program portfolio. What new features will appear in 2018, and which existing ones will see a change? We addressed the Foundation’s Executive Director with the question and here is what Ms Aiganym Malisheva shares.
What is the foundation’s strategic plan for development?
— It remains focused on supporting talented young people specializing in natural sciences and technical specialties. Our main emphasis is on grants for the Kazakhstanis to undertake internships at world’s best laboratories and innovative enterprises. Why? Because the program has shown the greatest synergistic effect and our mission, to develop the country’s intellectual potential, is possible only if the foundation’s activity has synergy and a long lasting impact.
Which directions are you planning to further pursue?
— Given the current growth of demand for specialists in big data and data analysis and the fastest-growing IT, we are planning to expand the IT direction in our matrix of program. In the coming winter we are planning to announce a sponsorship competition for studies in a master’s program. The number of the grants per year is small, just two and is because of the tuition cost. A ballpark cost of the program starts from 40 thousand US dollars and that’s excluding accommodation expenses.
Also, in 2018 the Foundation decided to close its travel grants program. Reasons behind the decision are several, number of eligible applications is relatively small whilst the resources spent on processing them and the outcomes of the travels indicate the program as ineffective.
Next what we learned from Ms. Malysheva is that the 2018 will not change the Foundation’s practice of of inviting well-known scientists for guest lectures at Kazakhstan’s universities. For example, this year the “Yessenov Lectures” program invited biologist Peter Vlasov , who is currently working for the European Centre for Genomic Regulation in Spain. He did a series of lectures for students of biological faculty of KazNU al-Farabi university. Meeting him was a great success according to the students attended the lectures.
Will the foundation continue its collaboration with China?
— That’s a definite yes. We plan to continue the internships in China. We have already organized internships for three Kazakhstanis in robotic startup Makeblock in Shenzhen. Talks are ongoing with Chinese universities and other innovative companies about their participation in the project.
In 2017 the Shakhmardan Yessenov Foundation organized internships in the research laboratories of Britain’s Open University for students majoring in chemistry and oil and gas. Based on the results and the feedback to come from the students and host professors, the foundation’s team will make a decisions on program’s update. The foundation has plans to hold talks with a number of other British universities in order to expand the range of specialties to have more Kazakhstani students undertake the research practice.
Traditionally, the foundation will hold competitions for the Yessenov scholarship program as well as the internships in IT-startups in the US program. Five winners of the last year’s competition have just returned from the Silicon Valley with most satisfactory practical results. Abai Nussipbekov and Yernar Amergaliyev, for example, continue working for their host startups remotely, with Yernar opening a branch office of the start-up in Astana. Alexandra Kim is now enrolled at a master’s program in one of Canada’s universities and Aigul Imadildayeva accepted an offer to stay in the Valley to work at “her” startup.
All the programs that you mentioned, they are 100% approved for 2018 or their future is in question so far?
— All of these programs are now at the stage of discussion and approval with the founders, Galimzhan Yessenov and Aizhan Yessim, and the members of the Board of Trustees. In September we will make the decisions public so you will know what new programs we will be implementing. All in all, both the foundation and the future participants of our programs can expect one busy and exciting year ahead of us, — concludes the foundation’s manager Aiganym Malisheva on upbeat note.
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