GSPP students named the regional winners of the 2021 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition

The NU GSPP students named the regional winners of the 2021 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition

The NU GSPP students Zhanel Sembayeva and Madi Khanafiya became the members of the fourth and fifth place regional winning team respectively of the 2021 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition. GSPP nominated 5 students for the participation in NASPAA 2021: Zhanel Sembayeva, Madi Khanafiya, Dilara Omirserikova, Danna Tyo and Tamila Talasbayeva. The competition was hosted virtually on February 27 and March 6, 2021 by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) and the University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. This year, over 400 students from 120 universities in 30 countries took part in the event. They had to work together on simulated issues to minimize the impact of a deadly infectious disease.

The NASPAA Simulation Competition was first designed in 2015. The use of simulation-based learning in the curriculum provides students with the experiences to tackle similarly complex problems in their professional positions. Simulations change the way students approach professional education and it challenges their knowledge and skills as they are confronted with reality. In their jobs, students are asked to work with new team members, negotiate for a stated position, accomplish goals under a tight deadline, and create thoughtful presentations and reports. 

As MPP 2nd year student Madi Khanafiya shared his experience from the game: “In simulation, the teams had to prevent the spread of infection and save as many people of the virtual world as possible using political, economic, and social policies. There were 5 people from Kazakhstan, the Nazarbayev University GSPP School, but we were divided into different teams. In my team there were 5 people including me: two from India, one from Malaysia, and one from Australia. My teammates represented the National Law School of India University and Azim Premji University in India, North South University in Bangladesh and KDI School of Public Policy and Management in South Korea.” 

He added that the participants from all teams in each game chose their roles, leadership positions of the team country, in the simulation world. A total of 5 roles were available: Head of State – Prime Minister, Minister of Health, Minister of Finance, Minister of Communications and Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO). During 3 games, Madi played the roles of Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Minister of Communications.

“I want to thank GSPP for providing such an incredible opportunity to participate in the NASPAA Pandemic game! To say it was interesting practice would be a huge understatement. The NASPAA Pandemic Game was a thrilling experience where I could become an active practitioner of national anti-pandemic policies. Together with my partners we agreed that the best way to survive the pandemic is to prioritize the citizens’ health, without sacrificing the national budget, public perception, and international community,” said MPP 2nd year student Zhanel Sembayeva. 

“The biggest challenges, – Zhanel confessed, – were to maintain the positive national budget, as long as we heavily invested in the vaccination development program”. Nevertheless, thanks to mutual trust and adherence to common goals, Zhanel’s team attained a golden balance of public health and national economy, with thousands of lives saved. Their strategy brought them the lowest infection rate and mortality rate, highest standing of the health economy and citizens’ trust in comparison with all other teams. 

It is not the first time that NU GSPP School students participate in the competition and win. The GSPP School administration encourages students to take part in the programs like this that support more experiential learning in the classroom, especially in the realm of public policy and administration.