Visit to the Maxim Tank Belarusian State Pedagogical University

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The idea of close cooperation between family and school which aims to facilitate the formation of a hardworking, educated and healthy nation should unite the society for the sake of the country’ future, President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the seminar involving students, professors, and graduates of the Maxim Tank Belarusian State Pedagogical University (BSPU) on 21 November.

A live video broadcast of the seminar was organized in seven Belarusian universities in Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Mogilev, Mozyr and in the Minsk State Linguistic University. The seminar involved over 2,500 students.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that there is a good reason for the meeting as the leading teachers university in Belarus celebrates the centennial anniversary.

The President stressed that the participants of the seminar must have a serious discussion of ideas, concerns and proposals.

“I am convinced that education is the foundation of the society, a pass for the state and for the entire nation to the future,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “Economy, geopolitics, finance, security are equally important. But eventually our security depends on how we will bring up our children. Will we be able to give them profound knowledge, instill right guidelines in life, develop solid moral background? These questions are the main focal point,” he said.

The President outlined a number of issues in education that are of paramount importance.

One of them is the low prestige of the teaching profession. “We cannot solve all issues by means of increasing salaries. Many factors affect the status of a teacher today. The modern-day culture also plays a role here,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. “Many excellent books and movies about teachers and school were made in Soviet times. Today writers, screenwriters, and filmmakers offer us very different heroes. This forms public opinion, and not in favor of the teaching profession,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

Staff turnover is another factor. The President stressed that not all the enrollees come to the university seeking a teaching career. “For someone it is just an opportunity to get a certificate of higher education. They work off their two-year job placement and leave. Some spend a year or two at the university and quit,” the head of state noted.

The President believes that all Belarusian universities must have more practical studies. Then the future specialists will understand the essence of their professions.

Apart from that, the President believes that it is necessary to modernize teaching methods.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the Belarusian education system will be optimized. All the irrelevant factors will be pruned while the education system will keep the money that has been saved. Education problems will be looked into at the level of the president in the near future.

“I have already sworn that we will never ever reform the education system because there was a time when we had to break and rework everything, return all the best things and adjust to modern good ones,” said the head of state. “I thought we were not going to touch the education system again. But it didn’t work because life forced us to move on starting with centralized tests and ending with other processes. And I saw that we are just lagging behind modern requirements”.

The President said he believes that the education system is plagued by red-tape practices. School teachers are forced to spend three times as much time on all kinds of reports in comparison with the basic workload.

“I am told that the problem has been resolved. We will have to see about that. But I feel that we are losing something, that we are not keeping up with the times,” the President noted. With this in mind a working group has been tasked with looking into education system problems. According to the President, the group has prepared a report that painted everything in bright colors. Aleksandr Lukashenko noted the report put him on his guard and a second working group had been created in order to once again take a closer look at problems in the Belarusian education system.

The head of state pointed out that the world is now experiencing a prolonged economic recession. The fact affects Belarus as a country with an export-oriented economy. “We will not be able to find additional funds. It is necessary to optimize the system, remove all the irrelevant things and save money,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state said he was dissatisfied with how his instruction to change university curriculums let alone school curriculums was being fulfilled. “What do we want school students to learn? Half of it is rubbish. Kids absolutely don’t need that in their lives. Therefore, I gave instructions to change the curriculums. Something has been changed but it is not exactly what I want. This is why I often criticize the Education Ministry for our failure to match modern requirements,” the President said.

It is necessary to update the curriculums in Belarusian schools and universities while keeping the best accomplishments of the past.

“It does not mean that our past will be scrapped and something we do not comprehend yet will be put in place. Or that all the good things from the past will be replaced with something we do not comprehend yet. It would be dangerous. It may lead us to wrong destinations. But we surely have to adjust to modern life. It has not been done yet,” the head of state stressed.

The President deems it necessary to improve the system of enrollment of students to teachers colleges and universities.

“We understand that only the best can teach children. These are people who show a good example and earn deserved respect with parents and students. The main thing is that only a person with good spiritual background and moral values can be allowed to educate a younger generation,” the head of state said.

According to the President, the admission boards of pedagogical universities, district and city education committees, schools should do their best to engage the best school graduates in the profession. “It is important to find and support those children who dream of becoming a teacher as early as possible. As a result, universities will welcome only motivated school leavers,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

The President believes that it is also essential to reduce the number of fee-paying and state-sponsored students if necessary. “It is essential to train the number of teachers that the country needs and to select only those who dream of working with children and not those who want to solve any instantaneous problems,” the head of state said.

“The main objective of schools is to give knowledge, teach to think, help to decide on the future,” the President said.

Vast knowledge and abundant information are the peculiarities of the modern world. “The fact that knowledge, skills, technologies are rapidly changing is only the top of the iceberg. It is needed to select the essentials, systematize all opinions, ideas and facts and make the right choice. Those who think that the more sources of information they have, the better they will understand the issue are wrong. The abundance of contradictory information is often more confusing than its shortage,” the President said.

According to the head of state, the Internet develops sketchy thinking. “Children often know how to use technical innovations better than their teachers and parents. However, are they morally and intellectually ready for choosing the most important things from this information torrent?” Aleksandr Lukashenko wondered. “It is necessary to teach a child to work with information, to analyze, to compare, to logically evaluate an idea. Many children should be taught to communicate with ach other, to live in the real world with real problems and to find solutions of these problems,” he added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko has urged to toughen the measures against drug addiction in the country. “My agenda for the near future includes the discussion of the problems of substance abuse. We will toughen the laws and punishment,” the head of state noted.

In his words, it is impossible to solve all the problems by punitive measures. “Meanwhile, the family and school have been underperforming in this regard,” the President said. He is convinced that schools should hold as many preventive events as possible, show children films about the damage caused by smoking and substance abuse. Absolutely all the measures should be used to prevent their spread.

The President’s seminar involving students and lecturers lasted for about three hours. Participants of the seminar discussed such issues as the state of matters in the education sector, efforts to raise the prestige of the teaching profession, the quality of school and university training, professional ethics, education terms, student curricula, etc.

Young scientists were interested in whether the most outstanding of them will be able to buy out rented homes. Aleksandr Lukashenko explained that in his time he initiated the construction of rented homes and today he has no regrets about having done that. In addition to resolving the housing problem temporarily for many categories of citizens rented homes also combat the problem of job hoppers. It is a bit abnormal when a person quits right after getting an apartment from the employer in order to find another job, and another one, and yet another one after that, the President explained.

“As far as rented homes are concerned, everything is clear: you have to work for your employer. Certainly, rented homes are not cheap but they are two or three times less expensive than homes available on the market,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded: “When I gave the instruction to build rented homes, we wanted to help, for instance, young scientists to temporarily deal with the housing problem instead of forcing them to pay a lot for apartments rented on the market. By the way, the issue was initially raised in a university and the relevant decision was made after that. In other words, rented homes are granted temporarily. And now you say you want to privatize these rented homes. You cannot. We are not going to privatize rented housing. At least for now,” the President specified.

He stressed that the state will help young scientists in other areas. “If a young prominent scientist needs support, we will find the resources to do it. May god grant us scientists like that,” the President said.

Before the meeting with the students and lecturers of the university the head of state was made familiar with the avenues of development of the university, including the modernization of the education process, efforts to raise the prestige of the teaching profession.

Apart from that, the head visited the BSPU hall of rare books which celebrates the 100th anniversary. The university stores ancient books, the oldest of which dates back to the 18th anniversary, anthologies, books with autographs of Belarusian writers and poets, etc.

Aleksandr Lukashenko extended his best greetings to the personnel and students of the university which celebrates the centennial anniversary.