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Opinions & Interviews

26 Aug 2019

Lukashenko says Belarus’ university admission system in for possible reform

Lukashenko says Belarus’ university admission system in for possible reform

MINSK, 26 August (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko does not rule out a reform of the university admission system in the country. The Belarusian leader said this as he met with Belarus’ Education Minister Igor Karpenko on 26 August to hear out his report, BelTA has learned.

“I read, see and hear and I am also informed that not everything goes well with the enrolment to our universities. People criticize the centralized testing, a new test scoring system you have developed recently. The main thing is knowledge, not the score. Everyone, including parents, should understand that if children have knowledge they will enter the university no matter what scoring system is applied. With no knowledge, no scoring system will help,” the head of state said.

“After hearing out many parents (I have enough students in my big family as well) I have started thinking that we may have to improve our university admission system. I am most concerned about the fact that the entrant who wishes to become a student, does not have a face-to-face examination with university teachers,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The president recalled his university years and expressed doubt that he would have a better result in testing than in a face-to-face interview with the teacher. He and many other students from the rural areas made great progress during their university time and surpassed many urban students in the knowledge level. “We caught up with urban students, worked very hard. I earned a diploma with honors. Many urban students could not compete with me, the same as with many such guys,” the Belarusian leader said.

“But I am afraid to make the wrong decision. We have to consider it carefully. The best children from the best families (in their vast majority) enter the university. I am not afraid to say that. I am talking about the families where parents pay close attention to the education of their children throughout the school years so that they could enter the university. I see it in my family, analyze the performance of good schools, and compare the level of students. With the current university entrance system we can hurt this part of the families that carry the main burden in the society and determine the atmosphere of our society both for now and the future. Therefore, I am really concerned about what is happening in our university entrance system today,” the president said.

“I would like to emphasize once again that I am not making any decisions now because I do not have enough information,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. The head of state added that this and other issues will be discussed at the upcoming meeting on education. “We should revisit our education issues. At the planned meeting we will, first of all, hear your vision, report of the Education Ministry and others involved in education about the current situation, including schools, universities, textbooks, organization of the education system, financing. We should consider all the issues at the level of the president. If needed, we must take a decision regarding the centralized testing, the ways to improve it,” the head of state said.

He added that experience of organizing centralized testing is sufficient. “We need to talk about shortcomings. It is necessary to make a decision,” the president said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko set the approximate date of the meeting for November-December 2019. “We need to hold an in-depth conversation. We will gather the people who determine the face of our education system. You will invite some part of the people to the meeting. The majority, however, will be invited independently so that we could discuss everything. There must be an alternative, different points of view. We must compare them and make the appropriate decisions,” the president said.

“Perhaps, it is better to hold the meeting after the parliamentary elections to avoid criticism that we are holding a very important meeting that will define our society in the future just ahead of the elections,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

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