Report on development prospects of Belarus’ education system

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It is inadmissible to break the existing system of education in Belarus, but it is important to improve it, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said when he heard out a report on the development prospects of the national education system on 1 February.

“We regularly address education issues. First of all, I would like to make sure that our decisions in education are implemented. If necessary, I want to give a nudge to reforms in education. However, there have never been and will never be drastic reforms in education. We must improve what we have today and what we created yesterday. It is inadmissible to break the system,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

At the same time, the president did not exclude that it might be necessary to give up on certain aspects to improve the system of education at schools and universities. “If we realize that we should stop using something, we must do it resolutely. The main issue in education (and in the economy and other fields in general) is that we often understand that we have to do something but postpone these processes because of red tape. Then time comes and we see that our yesterday’s plans will be useless today and especially tomorrow. As a result, we do not accomplish a certain stage, we try to introduce cutting-edge practices, but we do not understand that there is no foundation under these innovations,” the head of state said. “Therefore, we should do everything gradually and smoothly. We should move from less to more, from easier to more difficult things. We agreed to act this way in education.”

In this regard, Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled his instruction to improve practice-oriented training, reduce the periods of training at certain universities, update educational programs and books.

The head of state asked to determine an optimal number of students at universities. However, he explained that this instruction should not affect the export of educational services which brings a lot of money to the country. “The system of Belarusian education is in big demand. In my opinion, people from 108 countries study in Belarus, about 25,000 people. It is great,” he remarked. “Our universities should have as many students as we need for our economy.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also spoke about bachelor and master’s degree programs. In his opinion, a student should leave the university as a qualified specialist, not as a person will basic skills and knowledge. “It is inadmissible to build the system of education this way. We have a normal system of education: a person graduates from an institution of higher learning and starts to work. I am not against master’s degrees, but only the most talented and interested people willing to continue their education, work in science and teaching should go there. We have had this tradition since Soviet times, maybe even pre-Soviet times. And it is good. What is the state of affairs in this field? I gave an instruction to check it. Was my instruction fulfilled?”

As for the salaries of teachers which depend on the number of working hours, the head of state said that it is necessary to increase their salaries. “Maybe, there will be less working hours, but salaries will remain the same or increase. A teacher should not spend all their time with students. They should spend equal amounts of time on teaching and self-education,” Aleksandr Lukashenko believes.

The meeting with the head of state is attended by Head of the Belarus President Administration Natalya Kochanova, Education Minister Igor Karpenko, Rector of the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics Vadim Bogush, Director of the National Education Institute Valentina Ginchuk and director of Minsk gymnasium No. 10, chairperson of the Belarusian Pedagogical Society Marina Ilyina.

The president will be informed about the modernization of school programs and books, career education at high school, higher education, implementation of the state youth policy, export of educational services, teachers’ salaries.