In 1999, the adult literacy rate was estimated at 98.4% (males, 99.1%; females, 97.7%). Both at the primary and secondary level, education is free and state funded. Although Russian is the most commonly taught language, Kazakh, which is the official state language, is now gaining popularity and is being extended to all areas. A small percentage of students are also taught Uzbek, Uighur, and Tajik. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.4% of GDP.
In 1997 there were 1,342,035 primary school students. Secondary schools enrolled 1,921,302 students and employed approximately 178,900 teachers in the same year. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 18 to 1 in 1995. There are 55 institutions of higher education and three universities. Third level educational institutes had a total of 260,043 pupils in 1996. The University of Kazak Al-Farabi State University was founded in 1934 and offers history, philosophy, economics, sociology, journalism, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and geography. The Karaganda State University was founded in 1972 and teaches philosophy, economics, law, history, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology. The Technical University at Karaganda Metallurgical Combine was founded in 1964 and has faculties of metallurgy, mechanics and technology, and chemical technology.