Month: March 2023

The largest autism centre in the country starts working in Astana

This is the second Assyl Miras centre in the capital.

On the eve of the World Autism Awareness Day, Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation opened a new centre for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in Astana.

This centre became the second in the capital and already the twelfth in the Assyl Miras network in Kazakhstan. It is located at the address: 13 Dostyk Street, Residential Complex “Nursaya 2”.

The first Assyl Miras centre in Astana was opened by Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation in 2015. Meanwhile, more than 2,000 children with autistic disorders have received free correctional assistance here. Behind the dry numbers of statistics are stories of support, hope and new opportunities, the Foundation noted.

“My child first came to Assyl Miras at the age of three for the Jasper speech skills development programme. All three months were a period of intensive study for both of us – my son practiced new skills, and I learned to understand him. I was present at every lesson; additionally, seminars were held for us, parents, and then we went home and repeated what we had learned. The son did not show aggression, but he was withdrawn and did not know how to express his desires. Our teacher showed how to use the cards and give hints, and he began to communicate with all relatives with pleasure. The life of the whole family has become much easier. Now my Ramil is seven years old, he is in the first grade of a comprehensive school. We continue to work hard, but the progress already made gives confidence in success,” Natalia Melnikova shared.

Zhenis Kassymbek at the opening of the centre / Photo by the Press Service of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation

Autism awareness and diagnostic tools are improving every year, which is reflected in the official statistics on the prevalence of ASD in the world and in Kazakhstan. According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, signs of ASD are encountered in one in 54 children. In Kazakhstan, in 2022, according to the National Scientific and Practical Centre, autism was confirmed in 12,000 children.

Early diagnosis and correction significantly increase the chances of children for successful socialisation. In Astana, according to the education department, 2,500 children have been diagnosed with ASD. More than 300 children are on the waiting list for receiving the services of the Assyl Miras Centre, the waiting period is about a year.

Responding to a public request, Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation, with the support of the Astana Akimat (mayor’s office), decided to open a second autism centre in the capital.

2,500 children in Astana have ASD diagnosis / Photo by the Press Service of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation

“It is very important for us to create conditions for children with special needs. I know how parents are waiting for the opening of such centres. Another Assyl Miras centre will allow even more children to get access to advanced diagnostic and correction methods. For greater coverage of children with medical care, we are carrying out systematic work to expand the network of rehabilitation centres. This year, we plan to open inclusion support rooms in a number of schools and kindergartens, and we also plan to open social facilities, including rehabilitation centres, on the ground floors of new residential complexes,” said Zhenis Kassymbek, Akim (mayor) of the capital.

He noted that he also visited kindergarten No. 89, which is also attended by children with special needs, since the socialisation of children is important. Inclusion support rooms are open there.

“Parents raised questions about the training of tutors, we will deal with this area. Rehabilitation centres provide means for both maintaining the health of children and seeing positive results, socialising them,” added the Akim. The new centre will allow covering about 900 children a year. Classes will be held according to the standards of the “Autism. One World for All” programme in six intervention programmes. 10 classrooms are already fully equipped with furniture, inventory and teaching aids. Taking into account the experience of other centres, the number of rooms for the most popular programmes was increased – three rooms each were prepared for classes with children under the “Early Support” and “Development of Study Skills” programmes.

The new centre will allow covering 900 children / Photo by the Press Service of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation

“We have already begun recruiting teachers for the centre. In total, the centre will employ 36 specialists, each of whom has a specialised education and work experience. However, each teacher will undergo a specialised three-week training under our programme developed on the basis of the best world practices; and then supervision will be held regularly throughout the year to keep and maintain the uniform quality standards of the Assyl Miras centres, so that every child, regardless of where they live, has the opportunity to receive professional support,” said Marat Aitmagambetov, Director of Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation.

Bulat Utemuratov’s Foundation has been implementing the “Autism. One World for All” programme since 2015. During this time, the Assyl Miras intervention programmes have been completed by more than 14,000 children throughout Kazakhstan.

The methods used comply with global standards, and the training of Assyl Miras specialists in different years was carried out by such international experts as Dr. James Partington, Dr. Connie Kasari, Dr. Seth Clark, Dr. Alexander Sorokin, Dr. Lev Tolkachev and others.


Narxoz University: Vegetative barriers can reduce air pollution by as much as 40%

International scientists discussed innovative “phytocapture” technology in Kazakhstan

The international conference ”Nature Based Solutions to Mine Industry Waste: From Research to Practice” was held in Almaty on the initiative of the Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute, a part of Narxoz University, the best private university in Kazakhstan according to the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. In 2007, with the support of the Kazakh businessman and philanthropist Bulat Utemuratov, Narxoz University began a transformation process, and has attracted international experts, upgraded the academic curricula and research capacity, and reformed its corporate governance.

Brendan Duprey, Director of the Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute, presented the center’s latest development, “phytocapture”, a green barrier method which works by planting trees and shrubs at specific locations to capture toxic dust from industrial plants and transport. The type of vegetation and distance from the pollutant is determined by measuring air quality and using advanced computer modeling in order to prevent the maximum amount of particulate matter from entering the air. Scientists are now working on exploring the potential for broader application of the “phytocapture” technology around the world.

In 2022, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) recognized Brendan Duprey’s project as one of the best global practices. “Phytocapture” technology has already been tested at the Aksu gold mine in Kazakhstan under a commercial contract. Results showed that the technology will reduce the air pollution from one of the mine tailings by approximately 40%.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 99% of the world’s population breathes in air with levels of pollution that exceed acceptable standards. Small particulate matter contained in the air like dust, combustion products of fossil fuels, etc., penetrate human lungs, affecting the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The WHO estimates that 7 million people die each year from air pollution.

The Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute was established in 2019. It has been involved in the design of the new campus at Narxoz University, which is home to 30,000 newly planted trees and which uses sustainable materials and energy-saving lighting. Sustainability is part of Narxoz University’s curriculum and campus life.

The developments of the Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute at Narxoz University, including the “phytocapture” technology, are planned to be applied to both national and international companies in the future.


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