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Mikhail Zhuravkov: only lazy person does not criticize education

Mikhail Zhuravkov, the Minister of Education of the Republic of Belarus has answered questions of the TV program Simple Questions with Egor Khrustalev.

Thank you for your time. We understand that right before the 1st of September journalists are focusing their attention on the Minister of Education. I presume that in every country the person who is remembered by people very often is the Minister of Education. Did you realize how many responsibilities are you taking when agreeing to this job?

Mikhail Zhuravkov:
As my colleagues say, the minister of education and the minister of health are two most punishable positions. The reason for it lies in the fact that these spheres involve children, and children are extremely important for parents. Only a lazy person does not criticize the sphere of education. It’s very bitter to hear. I should say that people working in the Ministry of Education are very professional, and they like children and their job.

You comment a lot about the last stage of school education, high school, and now, I would like to talk to you about elementary school. Can parents choose a teacher for their kid? Or is elementary school the stage where everything should be the same and everybody should be equal?

Mikhail Zhuravkov:
Parents have a choice. They can give their child to any school they want. However, there is one condition. There should be a place in the school of choice. If there is, then parents can write a letter to the head of the school asking to take their child and asking for the particular teacher.

If I'm not mistaken, children cannot take any tests to get to the first grade.

Mikhail Zhuravkov:
There shouldn’t be any tests. However, before going to school, parents should get a certificate issued by the establishments of the Ministry of Health stating that their child is physically prepared to go to school. Moreover, I would advise parents to consult with a psychologist about the mental state of their child.

Is education a difficult science for you?

Mikhail Zhuravkov:
It is a difficult science with its own rules and hypotheses.

If we think of education as a scientific process, will there be any discovery that will change a lot? For instance, today, there is an access to any information, so it is not necessary to memorize everything.

Mikhail Zhuravkov:
Yes, you are right. On different stages of the development of the society, the approach is changing. Earlier, a teacher was a person who is the main source of knowledge. Nowadays, the function of a teacher is to teach how to get knowledge from different sources of information, to teach how to learn. Thus, the function of a teacher is changing.

Recently, I was discussing that technological progress is developing very fast. I heard an opinion that this development has its limits. Do you think it’s true?

Mikhail Zhuravkov:
Even in IT-sphere, the number of possibilities is unlimited. Moreover, there are a lot of various interesting thoughts and ideas in different scientific fields.

When do you have time to follow the scientific progress?

Mikhail Zhuravkov:
It’s my hobby, it’s my life.

My last question is concerning the teachers’ salary. If it could be higher, would it change the situation? Or it’s not that simple?

Mikhail Zhuravkov:
I think the problem couldn’t be solved just by increasing salaries. However, this is the most important factor at the moment. We also trying to increase the social status of this profession. Moreover, we are introducing the system where a salary depends on the work done by a person.

I want to congratulate you and all your colleagues on the 1st of September, the Knowledge Day. Being a teacher is a very noble thing.

Mikhail Zhuravkov:
It’s a pleasure to work with children. They make you feel young.

Mikhail Zhuravkov: only lazy person does not criticize education