Kazakhstan wants second slice of home counties in central Asia

20th November 2009 at 00:00
President invites Hertfordshire-based public school to set up another outpost

The president of Kazakhstan, the vast central Asian country made famous by Borat, has asked a leading British boarding school to set up a second outpost - this time in the nation's capital.

Haileybury School, in Hertfordshire, says its first school in the city of Almaty has proved such a success in its first year that President Nazarbayev has asked for another in Astana.

Due to open in 2012, the new school will profit from the oil and gas boom in the former Soviet state, which was once a byword for backwardness and post-communist misery.

Haileybury's first overseas outpost was opened 15 months ago in the commercial capital with the principal aim of educating the children of wealthy Kazakhs rather than expats.

It currently boasts 400 pupils aged five to 14, but will eventually have places for 600 up to the age of 18.

Haileybury's involvement in the former Soviet bloc follows a trend for British private schools to replicate themselves abroad in a bid to increase their income.

Marlborough College in Wiltshire has recently announced it is to open a school in Malaysia, while Harrow has branches in Thailand, Beijing and Hongkong, and London's Dulwich College boasts three outposts in China.

Haileybury head Joe Davies, who described the first school as an "experiment", visited Almaty at half-term.

"We are trying to emulate the ethos and values of what we have here at Haileybury," he said.

"It was extraordinary to arrive at the school and hear 400 Kazakhs singing the school song, 'Lift Up Your Hearts'. We are very, very happy with the way things are going."

Any profits made by the school will be invested in Haileybury's bursary scheme - increasingly important in the wake of the Charity Commission's public benefit test.

Pupils follow a curriculum in English and will soon be able to take IGCSES and the International Baccalaureate.

Half of the governors are from Haileybury's English campus while half are local to Kazakhstan. Some of the teachers are old boys of the Hertfordshire co-ed.

STEELY LEADERSHIP

President Nazarbayev is the son of a shepherd who trained as a steel smelter in Ukraine.

After holding a series of communist party posts, he was elected president in 1990. He was re-elected after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Kazakhstan declared its independence.

Although credited with providing some stability and economic growth, President Nazarbayev has been criticised for suppressing political opposition and failing to combat corruption.

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