Meeting with the finalists of Teacher of the Year of Belarus nationwide contest

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At the meeting with the finalists of the nationwide contest Teacher of the Year of the Republic of Belarus held on 3 October Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized the huge role of the teaching profession for the modern-day society.

“We live in the rapidly changing world. The education system is being improved and enriched, new technologies are being introduced, however the role of teachers remains as significant as before. There is not a more important person for the society than a teacher. There cannot be a normal society and state without a teacher,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, a true teacher is not just a professional educator, but also an interesting personality able to arouse interest in their discipline, awake children’s enthusiasm and unleash their creative energy. “We build new schools, improve their physical infrastructure, and invest huge funds into equipment and information technologies. Our number one priority is to help our secondary education to keep up with the times,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that today’s students can get information not only from books and textbooks, but also from the Internet, as they are confident computer users. “School should keep pace with it. Teachers should not lag behind students. Teachers should become reliable and knowledgeable senior comrades. At the same time teachers should make use of the fundamental knowledge and values accumulated by many generations of their predecessors,” the head of state is convinced.

The meeting was held in an informal and friendly atmosphere. The attendees discussed various issues related to modern-day Belarusian education, like the relations between school and family, a teacher’s role in the upbringing of the younger generation, promotion of a healthy lifestyle, vocational training, the work of public and private educational institutions and curricular.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that for now there is still too much formalism in the compilation of curricula for individual school subjects, particularly for humanitarian disciplines. This is why the President asked those present about their views concerning the objectivity of the content of the relevant education programs. The head of state cited Belarusian literature as an example: “Vasil Bykov was not a supporter of mine but he has written excellent works that we and our children must read. But there are some authors in the school curriculum, who have nothing to boast about except for their Belarusian surnames”.

The meeting also touched upon the content of the history taught in schools, in particular, information about the Great Patriotic War and World War Two. Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out the necessity to counteract the attempts to negate and take away the Great Victory over fascism from the Belarusian nation.

Speaking about history as a whole, the President said that it is inadmissible to rewrite it to match a specific person, including the head of state. “It must not happen. If everything gets rewritten or even deleted after someone retires, it is the most dreadful thing. We cannot tune disciplines, particularly humanitarian ones, to match someone. Teaching has to be objective and honest. Facts should be taught the way they happened,” the Belarusian leader believes.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also assured that as the head of state he has no intention to put extra effort into winning over creative intellectuals. “It would be a disgrace for the intellectuals. I will never force them to praise me and my presidency as long as I am the president. They may evaluate it after I retire,” the head of state remarked. “There is no dictatorship. There is a certain state view and we welcome it if people support it. But if an intellectual — a painter, a writer — has his or her own point of view and stance, they are welcome to speak up,” he added.

The language issue was also raised at the meeting. Aleksandr Lukashenko once again emphasized the importance of preserving and teaching both state languages — Belarusian and Russian. In his words, they add to the wealth of the Belarusian nation.

The President also spoke about the relations between school and family. “It is an unquestionable fact that the joint efforts of parents and teachers are essential to prepare our children for an independent life. The increasing number of social problems in our society is due to our failures – yours and mine. Being a representative of the authorities I am to blame, just like you, for the incidents of hostage taking, for smoking, alcohol and drug abuse in our country. We need to come to grips with this situation dramatically,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, in this situation one could blame the huge influence of the street, children’s environment and other factors. “This is an additional burden for us. They all go to school and we should be talented enough to show them what is wrong,” the head of state said.

The President said that the existing problems in the education sector need an objective approach.

“The education system is bitterly criticized today and this criticism is justified for the most part. It pertains to the content and complexity of education programs, the quality of textbooks, an approach chosen to the language training facilities, the sixth school day and many more. One commission has already stopped working at my request and I am totally dissatisfied with the work it did (especially its final stage) and the interference of some civil servants. Law-enforcement bodies are dealing with the issue right now. I had to select another group of specialists to study the existing problems at school, from teachers’ complaints about excessive load of information and reports to students’ complaints on their inability to learn things that should not be in the curriculum,” the head of state said.

The President underlined that the best teachers of Belarus, including the winners of the Teacher of the Year contest of different years, should be involved in this work. “You should be independent experts and my reliable counselors in the effort to improve the national education. I expect recommendations, proposals, constructive criticism and new ideas from you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

The head of state emphasized that education in the country should be optimal. Neither a student nor a teacher should be overloaded with unnecessary and needless things. However, today's need is in polishing some aspects in the education system, not in any fundamental transformations and reforms. As for the wages, the President noted that despite all the economic difficulties and a lingering global crisis, decisions have been recently made to enhance the material encouragement of teachers. At the same time Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that a lot depends on teachers themselves in this matter, their ability to reorient and build up their work with students in line with the present-day requirements, including through a wider use of extracurricular activities and additional courses.

The President awarded winner of the national pedagogue mastery contest Teacher of the Year of the Republic of Belarus Viktor Zhuk from Molodechno the grand prix of the contest — Crystal Crane — and a car.

The President underlined that winners of the contest Teacher of the Year gain their fame by right and become worthy reference points for thousands of Belarusian teachers.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also remarked that over 30,000 teachers had taken part in this year’s contest. “For many years we do everything to allow every child in Belarus to get quality education regardless of where the children live,” the Belarusian leader said.

The head of state expressed confidence that the contest contributes to raising respect for the teaching profession and provides noticeable influence on the development of the national education system.