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The first Kazakh higher education institution was launched on September 1, 1928 and was called Kazakh State University. It had the only Pedagogic Faculty that consisted of three divisions: physical and mathematical, natural sciences and language studies. Initially it was planned to open three faculties within the University: pedagogic, agricultural and medical. They had to start working in 1932-1933 academic year. However, in the interests of intensive peoples education, it was decided to evolve the newly opened university as an independent pedagogic institution. Therefore in 1930 the University was renamed as Kazakh Pedagogic University (KazPI), and in 1935 it obtained the name of great Abai.

KazPI was initially located in the small single-storey building of the former Verny womens college.
Five-month preparation courses for prospective students started functioning under the Institute. Also pedagogic college, pedagogic schools and workers faculty opened their doors. These institutions enrolled mostly young people that grew up in orphanages with no parents, children of poor workers and some limited number of middle-class and clerks children.

The first enrollment has been made in two steps in September and October, 1928, on the basis of allotment by the Ministry of Education made across the regions of the republic. As a result 124 students including 28 women have been enrolled. The composition of students was multiethnic and included 76 Kazakhs, 42 Russians, and 6 representatives of other ethnicities. Around 75 percent of the students were provided with stipends. The most demanded were accommodated in dormitory. Given that the background level of some part of the students was comparatively weak, the additional courses on Russian. Kazakh, math and physics were undertaken. The lectures for the first-year students were conducted by only 9 instructors including 3 professors, 5 associate professors and 1 assistant.
According to reminiscences of early KazPI graduate Mr. T.Musakulov, 20-40-year-old adults striving for knowledge studied at the institute that time.

At the same time the Institute led the scientific-educational work amongst the public. The Sunday Institute with 190 attendees was established under the aegis of KazPI. Teachers conducted lectures and read scientific reports for workers. The illiteracy elimination school was launched under the Institute. Topical meetings, disputes, readers conferences and other educational activities for city dwellers started on the regular basis.
The serious problem for KazPI that time was attraction of qualified scientific and educational personnel. This task was resolved in two ways: some specialists were invited from central higher education institutions; the rest was formed from local staff. The substantial role in the Institutes development was played by the universities of neighbor republics, especially Moscow and Leningrad. They generously shared their libraries and educational equipment. Enthusiasts and famous scientists like literary scholar N. N. Fatov, mathematician B. L. Kruglyak, physician V. F. Litvinov, biologist S. V. Loginov, embryologist A. A. Zahvatkin and many others came for pedagogical work in KazPI those years. Eminent Kazakh writers and scientists like Oraz Djandosov, Saken Seifullin, Baimen Almanov, Akhmet Baitursynov, Halel Dosmukhamedov, Ilyas Kabulov, Temirbek Zhurgenov etc conducted lectures and pedagogic activity in the Institute that time. Famous human scientists like K. Zhubanov, S. Amanzholov, M. Zholdybaev and many other worked in KazPI in 1930s.