Parents International was contacted by the young public association Senimen Bolasaq in July 2022 to start developing a cooperation between the two organisations. They invited us to visit them in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. Our Director, Eszter Salamon could only spend three days there between 15-17 August due to our already busy schedule, but this short time was enough to learn about the amazing work the organisation has done in a little over a year of its existence, to plant seeds of active cooperation, and also to meet national and municipal policy makers.
As part of the visit, the leaders of Senimen Bolasaq and Parents International met the representatives of the German Embassy that can be instrumental in arranging Schengen visas for people representing the association as entry can be a major obstacle of study visits or even project meetings. A meeting with the Representation of the European Union in Kazakhstan offered a good opportunity to explore the EU-funding opportunities for projects carried out in Kazakhstan, using the European expertise and experience of Parents International.
An especially fruitful visit was at the Minister of Science and Higher Education, Sayasat Nurbek. Kazakhstan is facing a shortage of teachers and schools due to their baby-boom, and we have discussed ways we could cooperate in developing initial teacher training curricula that ensures quality training for about 100.000 new teachers in the very near future. We have offered our help in developing specific modules on parental engagement, and also in education leadership with special focus on learning leadership, parental engagement and child participation. As they are also taking the first steps in inclusion, the training material developed for Parenting Together is a good tool to be translated and implemented.
There was a meeting held with the Municipality of Nur-Sultan, where we have learnt about the strong relationship between the city and the local branch of the organisation. The topic of inclusion and parenting support for children with intellectual disabilities was well received by them, too.
Before the visit, we had jointly reviewed our existing programmes, tools and projects, and picked out a few with exploitation potential. On the last day of the visit, Senimen Bolasaq hosted a conference with over 600 people working with parents all over the country focusing on conscious parenting. We had the opportunity to present and explore the local implementation potential in ELPIDA, Parenting Together and the upcoming SILENT to cater for the extra empowerment needs of parent of children with disabilities to teachers, school leaders, psychologists and parent leaders.
During the discussions, the need for at least Russian versions of the tools and publications has arisen (as Kazakh people generally speak Russian, too). This can be relatively easily achieved as the AI translation tool used by Parents International includes Russian and Senimen Bolasaq has the capacity to do the necessary editing work.
We also had the opportunity to understand how each organisation operates, with Senimen Bolasaq being based on funding from the for-profit sector (mainly a handful of generous businessmen who understood that investing in parents and through them children ensures the future of their companies, too) and being built in a top-down way. We hope to soon have the opportunity for another visit and seeing more of their work outside of the capital.
Senimen Bolasaq has also joined our Parent Summit in Amsterdam. The Memorandum of Understanding signed during the visit gives a good starting point for this.