“Engaging and Beneficial”: Video Lessons Shaping Healthy Lifestyles and Relationships in Kazakhstani Schools

In the 2021-2022 academic year, Kazakhstani schools embarked on an innovative educational journey by introducing the “Global Competencies” course. This initiative aims to develop personal and social skills while promoting a healthy and safe lifestyle among students. Aligned with the country’s national development strategies, the lessons are designed to contribute to ensuring the health of children.

To assist educators in the delivery of certain topics within “Global Competencies” course and other subjects’ curricula, the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE) and the UNESCO Office in Almaty have produced 20 video lessons (10 in Kazakh and 10 in Russian) for demonstration and discussion in the classroom. Additionally, a comprehensive handbook has been developed to provide teachers with valuable recommendations on organizing and conducting lessons using these videos.

In May of this year, the methodological offices of the educational authorities in Almaty and Kostanay regions, together with the Republican Association of Private Educational Organizations (RACHOO), held seminars for 70 educators from over 50 schools in Almaty and Kostanay, including UNESCO school clubs. Seminar participants familiarized themselves with the video lessons and received the accompanying handbook with detailed lesson plans. Almagul Mukhamedkhanova, the Chief Researcher of the Institute for Continuous Education at the National Academy of Education named after Y. Altynsarin, shed light on the regulatory framework for integrating a healthy lifestyle component into the secondary school curriculum. Aigul Rakizhanova, a leading researcher at the Methodological Center of the Astana City Administration, provided valuable insights on how the video lessons can be effectively employed to make the “Global Competencies” course and other subjects more engaging, informative, and exciting. Nadezhda Shorkina, a UNESCO consultant, offered an overview of the thematic scope of each video lesson, showcased selected excerpts, and introduced the participants to the handbook’s structure.

The seminars provided a platform for in-depth discussions on lesson design and explored various topics crucial to promoting healthy lifestyle, such as staying healthy, how body, feeling and thoughts change during adolescence, infection prevention, family planning, childbirth and child-rearing, and preventing violence and bullying in interpersonal relationships.

Educators were encouraged to conduct pilot lessons using the videos and evaluate their effectiveness from both an educational standpoint, considering knowledge acquisition and attitude transformation, and from the students’ perspective in terms of their interest and engagement in the learning process.

In late May, educators reconvened with the seminar organizers to exchange their insights and perspectives on delivering lessons pertaining to health and well-being. The video lessons garnered acclaim for their lucidity, pertinence to the subject matter, precision, informational value, and practical utility. Throughout these lessons, students not only scrutinized the content presented but also actively participated in discussions, fearlessly articulated and substantiated their viewpoints, thereby fostering the development of critical thinking skills.

These lessons provided a novel opportunity for most students to engage in open discussions within a supportive atmosphere, tackling sensitive topics that may be challenging to broach with parents. Well-structured and age-appropriate video lessons carry substantial educational worth, explaining complex topics in a simple and understandable language, underscoring their practical relevance, stimulating introspection and dialogue among students, and fostering the exploration of fresh perspectives.

Moreover, the value of these lessons was recognized by parents, evident through the positive feedback received from participants of the “Formula for a Happy Family” session, which involved eighth-grade students and their parents.

Educators can access the handbook titled “Using Video Lessons in Educational Classes for Grades 6-11 in General Education Schools” in the “Publications” section of the UNESCO IITE website. Additionally, all video lessons in Kazakh and Russian languages, available in MP4 format, can be downloaded from the same website and viewed here in Russian and Kazakh.