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What educational reforms does Belarus plan in near future?

Preparation for the new academic year was the main theme of the meeting with the President on August 15. The officials discussed return to the five-point system of knowledge assessment, transition to universal secondary education and, of course, teachers' salaries.

Irina Drozd, director of the secondary school No. 41 in Minsk:
If a normative document is adopted and a return to a five-point system occurs, school teachers will adapt children quickly. The five-point system in Soviet times had negative marks, and ten-point system has only positive ones. So some corrections are possible.

The proposal to return to the five-point system was one of those voiced on August 15 by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Education of Belarus. Each proposal is subject to public discussion and Alexander Lukashenko wants to hear all the parties concerned.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
I would like to know how we will adjust the rules of admission. This was the task set for all who controlled the course of the admission campaign. What approach will we choose after testing several of them?

The second issue, no less important, concerns the readiness for the school year of pre-school, school, secondary and higher educational institutions. And what problems do we have in this regard (if they exist)? In this regard, the issue of primary importance is the updating of curricula and textbooks. I do not see any problems, because regarding each textbook it is possible to create a working group and they will successfully adjust these textbooks from the 5th grade to the 11th, and will do it with great pleasure. We need to attract more practice-oriented people rather than academicians. But we cannot refuse from the services of academics because they are people who are at the top of knowledge.

In 2017, the most demanded were such specialties as design and psychology, but engineering and technical education are not that popular. Meanwhile, there are no problems with recruiting for the full-time form of training, but some educational institutions faced a shortage of entrants to extramural courses. In total, 53.5 thousand people entered universities in 2017.

Vasily Zharko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus:
We need to build the right learning pyramid. It's a little upside down. To date, our universities train twice more students than specialized secondary schools and vocational schools. It is necessary to build it the opposite way, so that the most literate, the most prepared persons go to universities. Therefore, probably, we will slowly reduce the number of students entering universities, and give more space for admission to vocational and secondary specialized education establishments.

There are more than 50 universities in Belarus today. Educational institutions will pass extraordinary accreditation. Rules of admission to extramural training will be changed. This type of education will become mostly paid and schoolchildren will need to have at least a year of work experience to be accepted.

By the way, while now universities take into account the average score of a student in school, it may not be taken into consideration in the future. The enrollment rules are planned to be made even more objective. Some specialties, will require additional tests besides the Centralized Test, which is a universal test for admission to all Belarusian high schools. The 2017/18 academic year will feature new curricula in all subjects. About 30 new textbooks will be introduced.

Ekaterina Penkrat, Deputy Director for Academic Work of Gymnasium No.31 in Minsk:
If we compare old and new textbooks, we see that they differ not only in size, but they also become more accessible, more colorful, with vivid and interesting pictures.

First-graders will learn according to the new ABC, as well as a freshly released Belarusian Language.

Ekaterina Penkrat:
Editions for the third grade were fully updated. A special feature is literary reading in Russian and the same subject in Belarusian where there is a QR code, which leads to the educational portal.

The work will continue in 2018 and will be completed in 2019.

Igor Karpenko, Minister of Education of the Republic of Belarus:
Even if some old textbooks will be still used, we have clearly given methodological recommendations on which sections to use and which not to take. In general, the task is set to completely update the entire line of textbooks on general secondary education until the end of 2019.

Traditionally, new schools will be opened in the country by September 1, which is Day of Knowledge and beginning of a new academic year in Belarus.

In 2017 there are two new ones: one in Krichev and the other in the biggest neighborhood of Minsk - Kamennaya Gorka. The latter is designed for more than a thousand places, but there are still more people wishing to study here. The school promises to accept everyone. The new school has two swimming pools, a gym, a video surveillance system, and a barrier-free environment.

The President, as always, asked whether everything is done to adequately prepare each child for the new academic year. Orphans, low-income and large families will not remain without help. Regardless of material wealth, every child should have everything necessary, said the President. The prices will be under control too.

Alexander Lukashenko:
The formula is simple: on September 1 children should look the same. You understand what I mean. Not that they should be dressed in black and white aprons, dresses and so on. No. I am talking about children from families who are not so rich today. We must dress all the kids adequately by September 1 so they can go to school decently.

In the near future, the nationwide pedagogical council will take place. The President also plans to partake in it. About a thousand experts will discuss the concept of system development until 2030, including the transition to universal secondary education.

Igor Karpenko:
At the moment, the normative base states that nine grades are compulsory. We propose to transfer to universal secondary education. In fact, the education system is ready for such a transition. Those who do not have a general secondary education now can use services like evening classes or some groups to receive this secondary education.

All suggestions for improving the education system in Belarus will be developed after public discussion on the ground, from rural schools to universities. Some innovations are likely to be introduced already in the next school year.

What educational reforms does Belarus plan in near future?