President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has laid out a timeline to switch the country's writing system over from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet. The change should be fully effective by 2025.
In an article published Wednesday in the state-owned "Egemen Kazakhstan" newspaper, Nazarbayev asked the government to start "preparatory work" and "create a schedule for the switch," reports DW.
He also laid out a timetable for the transition from the currently used modified Cyrillic alphabet with 42 letters to the more internationally used Latin one, with the first deadline falling at the end of this year.
"By the end of 2017, after consultation with academics and representatives of the public, a single standard for the new Kazakh alphabet and script should be developed," Nazarbayev wrote.
He also said that as of 2018, education specialists need to be trained to teach the new language and provide educational textbooks.
Despite the use of Russian in Kazakhstan and its neighbors, the Central Asian region’s native languages belong to the Turkic rather than Slavic family, Yahoo News noted.
Other countries with Turkic languages, such as Turkey, Azerbaijan and nearby Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan use the Latin alphabet.
"The Latin alphabet was used [in Kazakhstan] from 1929 to 1940,” Nazarbayev said. “In 1940…a law was adopted transferring the Kazakh language from the Latin alphabet to one based on Russian script. Thus, changes in the Kazakh alphabet were political.”
Nazarbayev plans the transition to the new Latinized Kazakh script to be complete by 2025. The stated purpose of the move is to make Kazakhstan a more recognizable brand internationally, but it will also appeal to patriotic Kazakhs.