Systematic solution of social issue

School Bus project to completely solve problem of transportation of rural children to school within five years
The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has accepted a report from Sergey Rumas, the Chairman of the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus.

The President has been informed about the Development Bank’s performance, and efforts to finance Government programmes and to take over assets from state-run banks. Mr. Lukashenko was keen to hear how far Mr. Rumas has fulfilled his targets since his appointment to his position.

The Head of State drew special attention to the Development Bank’s social responsibility as a profitable organisation; it stands at the heart of state project financing, helping fund the modernisation which will take Belarus into the 21st century. The Development Bank may be ‘young’ but Mr. Lukashenko is adamant that it should begin as it intends to go on, as he emphasised to Mr. Rumas.

Mr. Lukashenko underlines that every major organisation in Belarus should be carrying out social projects. Accordingly, he has instructed the Development Bank to go ahead with the School Bus project; this will set up transport for children to and from rural schools within the next five years. This year, the Development Bank is to finance the purchase of 60 buses (ten per region), including arranging bus driver training. Mr. Lukashenko approves of women being hired for the job, rather than men, to aid their employment in rural areas and to better ensure the safety of children. Unemployment among women is of particular concern in remote districts.

By the end of the year, yellow buses made by Minsk Automobile Plant will be delivering children from remote villages to their schools in agro-towns. Small schools are being closed, since children are obliged to receive lessons in mixed age and ability groups. Many argue that this reduces the quality of delivery by teachers and pupils’ understanding. Larger schools can offer better resources and more age specific teaching. Of course, the problem of transport has previously been an obstacle to this move, so the five year plan is afoot, via the School Bus programme.

Regional budgets are already being used, with support from local enterprises, to arrange buses, but there is not yet a unified approach of equal access to transportation. The Development Bank’s involvement will make the project more rational.

The operation of the Eurasian Economic Commission was also tackled during the meeting. According to Mr. Rumas, who is a member of the EEC Council, representing Belarus, work on future integration is almost complete. The EEC Council is next to meet on April 21st, after which proposals are to be forwarded to the governments of the three member countries. Co-ordinated proposals will then be presented to the heads of state at the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council session, on May 29th. Mr. Lukashenko has approved the initiative proposals of Belarus and urges that work on the Eurasian Economic Union treaty be accelerated.
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