Belarusian authorities attempt to mitigate public response to innovations in education
Education officials have managed to relax tension in society and reduce negative expectations from yet another attempt to reform the education system. Apparently, the authorities have taken into account teachers’ views while reforming the education system in order to retain their loyalty. The Belarusian leadership has become more sensitive to public response to its initiatives; it keeps its finger on the pulse of changes introduced in the most sensitive social spheres.
The Belarusian Education Ministry has reviewed school curricula on all subjects before the new academic year.
Innovations in the educational process and school curricula have not caused visible tension among parents and the teaching staff. The authorities are not willing to create tension over reforms in education, so as the teaching staff would make a lion’s share of the lower-level election commission members during the autumn-winter election campaign.
That said, education analysts have primarily criticised innovations in humanitarian subjects, which were subjected to most cuts, often contradictory, in the school curriculum. The Belarusian leadership always notes the need to focus the educational process on practical aspects to ensure the real economy has sufficient labour resources.
In addition, by simplifying the school curriculum, the education authorities attempt to increase average grades in graduate exams. Previously, knowledge levels demonstrated by graduates during the centralised testing were often criticised in independent media, drew disfavour from parents and hurt international reputation of the Belarusian education.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.