Major priorities of education in development were enumerated at the plenary session of the Nationwide Conference on Teaching with the participation of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko on 24 August.
This large-scale event was attended by more than 800 people, including workers of educational establishments form all Belarusian regions and the city of Minsk. In an open mic format, they shared their ideas and experience in various fields, put forward proposals.
Before the plenary session the head of state familiarized himself with an exposition of new school books and other educational materials published for the 2017-2018 academic year.
In his speech at the plenary session Alexander Lukashenko enumerated major principles of developing education in Belarus. He mentioned such aspects as state support, social justice and equal access to education.
“You know my approaches to the transformation, modernization, and reformation of the education system in Belarus. The point is that I strongly oppose any breakdown, even reformation in the real sense of this word,” Alexander Lukashenko pointed out. “I have always been in favor of the development of one process or another. We should be answering the questions the life puts before us. Education is such a complicated process that we cannot just demolish the education system and build it up anew,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The stressed that at some point several countries that are pretty much similar to Belarus decided to rebuild their education system. They broke down the old system and did not create a new one due to many reasons. “Today they acknowledge they have lost the good things from the previous system of education. We have chosen another way,” he said.
“You might remember that the Belarusian government had tried to follow this way till mid-1990s. The government tried to make us all speak the language they wanted within two or three years. I am not speaking out against the native Belarusian language. You know how it was those days: they started to break everything. The exact sciences, natural history, human sciences. We had to stop this process. Back then, many of us felt we could knock down everything, yet an enormous amount of money is required to create something new after that. Back then, we had no money at all. I do not understand what the then authorities hoped to achieve when they initiated such a drastic change in the education system. We started to move in the wrong direction. When we stopped this process both in politics and in education, when we embarked on the new course, the thesis was put forward to improve and to preserve the good things that we have built up,” the head of state added.
Alexander Lukashenko highlighted that the government paid close attention to the public opinion while deciding on the language of education in schools. “We did not force anyone to choose Belarusian. If we had then chosen the same way the ‘reforming fathers’ did when the Soviet Union collapsed, we would not have had either of the languages now. Russian is our native language. Maybe, it is a bit less native that Belarusian. But if someone thinks it only belongs to Russia as a state, then we have different attitude to this language. I treat Belarusian and Russian equally. I think by no means should we reject this heritage because we will lose very much. Let us be rich. Let us have two mother tongues, Russian and Belarusian. Time will pass, new people and new generations will be born. Maybe, the life will be different and they will decide which language to speak,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
The head of state clarified why the decision to hold the Nationwide Conference on Teaching at such a high level was taken now. “We have passed the first stage which I have named already. Later on, improving our education system, we have passed the second stage, if this process can be divided into stages. Now, as we have learned all the disadvantages and analyzed them, we have recognized there are some problems that are yet unsolved. This means we are on the edge of some third stage. It may be the main stage in the modernization of our education system. We should discuss how to resolve the matters in our education that we now see clearly. We are to make another step to hone the education system: preschool, school, vocational, and higher education,” he summarized.
The President said that today sustainable development of states relies not only on resources such as oil and gas deposits and gold reserves. Breakthrough technologies, new branches creating the economy of knowledge come to the forefront. In fact, this pertains to the transformation of traditional economic models. “However, changes are not limited to this. People’s minds and their attitude to state institutions are changing. It becomes more difficult for a person to find a place in the society, understand what true values are, and not to get lost in the information flow. These processes objectively lead to the dominating role of education in the world. It is the economy of knowledge and professionals sincerely loving their homeland that ensure the competitiveness of the country,” Alexander Lukashenko stressed.
In his words, the education sector and the role of teachers have changed a lot. “The so-called generation of the net is growing in the modern information environment. The Internet is a living space for young people. They cannot imagine themselves without electronic devices. I absolutely agree: these devices are necessary, interesting, useful. But it is more important to teach people to think,” the president si convinced. “All of us had teachers who not only cultivated love for their subjects but also helped us determine our way in life. That is why teachers by right enjoy great respect and attention in Belarus,” Alexander Lukashenko emphasized.
“This profession is not for come-and-go people. The formation of future generations depends on the personality of a school teacher, their professionalism. They not only give knowledge but also carry out a difficult mission of a fosterer. It is more than just work, it is selfless devotion. The personality of a teacher, their position and view of life are the most important things today,” the head of state believes.
“We have to do a lot to develop the human potential. Therefore, we need an objective and impartial evaluation of the progress in the development of all elements of Belarusian education, determine the prospects of its improvement. Of course, we have already done many things in this area,” Alexander Lukashenko said. “The main thing is that we have preserved positive achievements of previous generations. Among them are state support, social justice, equal access to education, its decent level. These are the principles we must use when planning further transformations in this field.”
There are all opportunities for the efficient fulfillment of our plans, the President emphasized. “We have created the necessary infrastructure at educational institutions. They have qualified personnel. The state annually allocates a big part of the state budget for education and social support of youth. Therefore, we can expect corresponding results from the pedagogical community at all levels of the education system,” the head of state noted.