Budget deficit determines the ‘optimization’ degree in regional schools
The ‘optimization’ of secondary schools – i.e. doing more with less - has revealed three main trends: the number of schools is declining, schools more often look for extra-budgetary funding and teachers’ workload is increasing.
A slight increase in the enrollment of first-graders goes against the general trend of fewer secondary schools in the regions. This trend is due to child-bearing by young people born during the ‘baby boom’ of the 1980s. This ‘boom’ will end soon, since the child population in the regions aged 0 – 18 years continues to decline.
The second trend is that secondary schools started looking more actively for extra-budgetary resources. The vast majority of regional schools need a radical upgrade for their material and technical base. Budget money covers only 30% of the schools’ needs. Presumably, the local authorities might increase their requirements for companies and businesses to provide voluntary-compulsory funding to the secondary schools.
Another trend is that being a school teacher is becoming less and less popular. For various reasons, this profession is losing its prestige and public recognition. As of September 1st, a teacher’s workload will increase up to 20 hours a week. This is unlikely to improve the profession’s prestige. According to the National Statistics Committee, the average pay of teachers in Belarus is almost two times lower than the average wage in the capital.
In addition to a 10% increase in a teacher’s workload, the Education Ministry will lay off every tenth teacher. This decision is explained by economic motives and the need to save funds. However, these decisions may reduce the quality of education and increase semi-literacy among schoolchildren.
In addition, the government has plans to increase mandatory labour contracts for post-graduates up to 6 years. This initiative was voiced by Council of the Republic Chairman, Anatoly Rubinov. In his view, this measure would help save Belarusian villages from extinction.