Grades are vital
Belarusian school graduates must pass centralized testing to enter further education
Exam not for everyone
In choosing a high school, this influences the choice of two core subjects which must be sat for tests. The third test is mandatory, in Russian or Belarusian language. The Republican Institute for Knowledge Control prepares exams and issues certificates, all under confidential conditions. The State Commission for the Control of Entrance Tests at Higher and Secondary Specialised Educational Institutions charges 0.1 of the base value (2.1 Roubles) to take part in centralised testing. This year, more than 100,000 graduates took part and tests began two days after school leaving parties. These passed without incident, besides 14 people being disqualified for cheating: seeking answers via their mobile phone or using notes. They can try again next year.
There are several undisputable advantages to the system, in which each student takes part ‘anonymously’, avoiding favouritism in marking. Selection criteria are clear and transparent: the total score of grades received during CT and in the secondary school certificate governs state-funded scholarship or the necessity for fee-paying. Corruption has been almost eradicated. Recently, there have been no cases of abuse in the system.
The higher the grade, the better the faculty
The university admission procedure is simplified as far as possible, with each student presenting their secondary school certificate, three CT results and a medical certificate, as well as a letter of application for the entrance examination board.
Students are rated, with the Ministry of Education having defined a minimum of ten points needed for Russian and Belarusian languages, fifteen for mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology, and twenty for all other subjects. Those who pass in the lower levels can apply either to universities asking for lower entrance grades or to vocational schools.
To gain admission to the best universities, 360-370 points are required. The most prestigious is the BSU’s Faculty of Law. Last year, to enter Business Law, 396 points were needed, of a possible 400. The highest score recorded is 399.
It is possible to become a student without a CT score. Laureates of the President’s Talented Youth Support Fund, and winners of international and republican Olympiads, and international creative contests and sports competitions, are admitted without examination.
Price of knowledge: paying for a dream
Only a third of applicants gain a state scholarship, with others having to pay, although costs are less than in Russia. For example, one year at the BSU Law Faculty costs 2,616 Roubles, while the Social Psychology and Pedagogy Faculty of Vitebsk State University charges 1,898 Roubles. Naturally, the quality of education is identical, and all students have equal access to lectures, textbooks and even dormitories. They also face the same rigorous examination.
By Gennady Malakhitov
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