Positive outlook on life is required

Belarus to optimise its education, removing unnecessary elements and leaving the saved funds in the system of education

By Mikhail Svetlov

Belarus to optimise its education, removing unnecessary elements and leaving the saved funds in the system of education

Speaking to students, teachers and graduates of the Belarusian State Pedagogical University (named after Maxim Tank), Alexander Lukashenko noted that problems in the education system will be considered in the near future at Presidential level. He considers that the process of education is overly bureaucratic.

BELTADirect video-broadcasting of the seminar was organised across seven institutions of higher education: in Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno, Mogilev, and Mozyr, as well as at the Minsk State Linguistic University. In total, there were 3,000 participants.

The Belarusian State Pedagogical University trains over 30 percent of all teachers countrywide, across 13 departments, 62 chairs, an Institute of Advanced Training and Retraining of Personnel, postgraduate courses and doctoral candidacies, employing over 900 teaching staff. Among them are 65 doctors of sciences and professors, and 340 candidates of science and associate professors. The university trains over 18,000 students, including about 500 foreign citizens — from 17 countries.

“We all understand that only the best should teach our children: those who serve as good examples, enjoying deserved respect from parents and pupils. Importantly, only those with a certain spiritual and moral stance are suitable to raise the next generation,” emphasised the Head of State.

According to the President, the attraction of the best school-leavers into the profession should be the business of not only admission committees of pedagogical higher institutions, but of regional and city departments of education and, also, schools. “It is necessary to find and support as early as possible those children who have a calling: those who dream of becoming teachers. This will bring motivated entrants into institutions of higher education,” Mr. Lukashenko noted.

The President is convinced that greater consideration must be given to providing free university education only to those for whom teaching is a true vocation, rather than a ‘solution to financial problems’, matching intake numbers with national requirements. He added, “Our future depends on our children growing into adulthood with adequate knowledge, true reference points in life and a strong moral core.”

Mr. Lukashenko singled out several areas of challenge needing reform, stressing that education needs to move with the times, to be relevant to our 21st century world. However, he also underlined, “Knowledge, skills and technologies need to be updated promptly, but this is only half of the problem. Students need to be able to select what is important, organising opinions, ideas and facts, in order to draw conclusions. Those who think that all that is needed to understand a problem is the gathering of information are deeply mistaken. In fact, a surplus of contradictory information often confuses more than its lack.”

The Head of State emphasised that Belarusian society faces a host of problems, including the need to raise the prestige of the teaching profession. “We won’t solve problems only by raising salaries. Many factors influence the status of a teacher being inadmissibly low, including modern culture,” Mr. Lukashenko stated. “Remember how many good books and films were created in Soviet days about teachers and schools. Now, writers, scriptwriters and directors offer us absolutely other heroes, shaping public opinion away from favouring teachers.”

The President believes that institutions of higher education across Belarus should focus more on giving students practical experience in their chosen profession. If nothing else, it will show young people whether or not their path is the right one, sooner rather than later. The Head of State is eager to see students leave a course or change to another after their first year if they realise that they have made a mistake. “If your choice is good, then you should master in practice modern skills in the agrarian, industrial or aviation sector, or whichever is your specialty,” he underlined.

He laments that even practical specialities, such as those relating to agriculture, are taught largely in lecture-halls. “What knowledge can you give them? Is it not enough that agrarian science and teachers (although this concerns various other spheres in different measure) lag behind modern life? If you lag behind, then go into the field, where progress is more evident. Others come to us and learn from our experience,” the President said.

Addressing students of the pedagogical institution, Mr. Lukashenko called upon them for patience, saying, “We must display tolerance. The first steps are not always simple, and you should not draw hasty conclusions. My advice to you is to always try to see the positive; this is vital.”
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