True Teacher always arouses sincere respect

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko meets finalists of Republican teachers’ professional mastery contest: Teacher of the Year of the Republic of Belarus

By Vasily Kharitonov

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko meets finalists of Republican teachers’ professional mastery contest: Teacher of the Year of the Republic of Belarus


Elementary school teacher at Gomel’s general education school #59, Nadezhda Milentieva, with class 3‘B’

The Teacher of the Year of the Republic of Belarus contest has been organised since 1991, aiming to promote and recognise best practice in teaching institutions. This year, Victor Zhuk — a history teacher at Molodechno’s secondary school #11 — was awarded for his contribution to learning.

Meeting the finalists, Mr. Lukashenko emphasised the huge role played by the teaching profession in modern-day society, underlining, “We live in a fast-changing world. The education system is being continuously improved and enriched, with new technologies introduced; however, the role of teachers remains as significant as ever. There is no more important person to society than a teacher. No normal society or state can exist without them.”

According to Mr. Lukashenko, the best teachers are not only competent but ‘interesting’, inspiring their students and ‘captivating’ their enthusiasm and creativity.

“We are building new schools, improving their physical infrastructure and investing huge funds into equipment and information technologies. Our major goal is to allow our secondary education to keep pace with the times,” said the President.

teacher3.pngMr. Lukashenko noted that today’s students study not only from books and textbooks but from the Internet, being confident computer users. “School should keep pace with this and teachers should not lag behind students, being reliable and knowledgeable senior comrades. At the same time, teachers should make use of the fundamental knowledge and values accumulated by past generations,” the Head of State is convinced.

The meeting was held in an informal and friendly atmosphere, discussing various issues relating to modern-day Belarusian education: relations between school and family; a teacher’s role in raising the younger generation; promoting a healthy lifestyle; vocational training, the work of public and private educational institutions; and the curriculum.

Mr. Lukashenko is eager to settle problems in education, which is bitterly criticised (mostly justifiably) for the content and complexity of curricular, the quality of textbooks, the approach chosen for language training, the sixth school day — and other aspects.

The President stressed that the best teachers of Belarus, including the winners of the Teacher of the Year contest across the years, should be involved in this work. “You should be independent experts and my reliable counsellors in the effort to improve national education. I expect recommendations, proposals, constructive criticism and new ideas from you,” noted Mr. Lukashenko.

The Head of State stressed that education in Belarus should be the very best, with neither students nor teachers overloaded with unnecessary work. He believes that only some polishing is required, rather than fundamental reform of the established system. Speaking of relations between school and family, the President underlined, “It’s an undeniable fact that preparing our children for an independent life requires joint effort by parents and teachers.”

teacher2.pngMr. Lukashenko believes believes it’s inadmissible to tune the teaching of humanitarian disciplines to match specific persons — including the Head of State. He believes that for now there is still too much formalism in the compilation of curricula for individual school subjects, particularly for humanitarian disciplines. He asked those attending the meeting their views on curriculum content and mentioned Belarusian literature, emphasising “Vasil Bykov was not a supporter of mine but he wrote excellent works that we and our children should read. However, there are some authors [in the school curriculum] who have nothing to boast about, except their Belarusian surnames.”

The history syllabus came under discussion: in particular, the tackling of the Great Patriotic War and WWII. Mr. Lukashenko stressed the need to counteract attempts to negate the importance of the Great Victory over Fascism, and warned against ‘rewriting’ events to please others — including the Head of State. He asserted, “It must not happen. If everything is rewritten or, even, deleted after someone retires, it is dreadful. We cannot alter curricular to suit particular people; teaching must be objective and honest, dealing in facts, as they happened.”

Mr. Lukashenko gave his assurance as Head of State that he has no intention of trying to ‘win over’ intellectuals. “It would be a disgrace for the intellectuals. I will never force them to praise me and my presidency while I hold the title of President. They may evaluate it after I retire,” he noted.
The issue of language was also raised, with Mr. Lukashenko stressing the importance of preserving and teaching both state languages: Belarusian and Russian. He believes they add to the wealth of the Belarusian nation.

Mr. Lukashenko awarded Victor Zhuk, from Molodechno, the Grand Prix of the contest — the ‘Crystal Crane’ — and his prize of a passenger car. The President emphasised that all those awarded for professionalism at the Teacher of the Year contest should be held up as models for the thousands of other Belarusian teachers.
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