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.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.