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Lukashenko wants education system to sort out shortcomings

MINSK (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed the education system to correct its errors as he spoke at a meeting on 18 August to discuss the state of readiness of the education system for the new academic year, BelTA has learned.

The president was primarily interested not in general figures, such as the percentage of readiness of schools for the new academic year and other indicators, but in an entire range of issues related to education. That is why the traditional report initially proposed to the head of state transformed into a government conference. The heads of the Prosecutor General's Office and the State Control Committee were invited to present the report of the supervisory bodies.

Aleksandr Lukashenko did not accept the reports of the minister and the deputy prime minister. It does not mean that everything is bad in the country's education system. On the contrary, systematic work is being carried out in a number of areas, but even isolated shortcomings in the area are unacceptable for the president. Not to mention problematic issues that are systemic in nature.

A meeting chaired by the prime minister is set to take place in a week's time. The president instructed the supervisory bodies to deliver a detailed report there in order to conduct a detailed review and develop a plan of action on how to promptly eliminate all the shortcomings. A new report to the president will take place in early September.

Road and fire safety

Among the issues raised by Prosecutor General Andrei Shved were security and safety, including fire safety. Not all educational institutions have put things in order in this matter. There are also complaints about inefficient work on the prevention of road accidents.

“In a number of cases, we have identified unpreparedness or incomplete readiness of schools for the new academic year in terms of road safety within the adjacent territories. In some cases, we found that fire exits were blocked, fire extinguishers and other fire safety equipment were out of order. Children should be in safe conditions,” Andrei Shved stressed. “In addition, we have proposed measures to strengthen the protection of children's rights from violence.”

The Prosecutor General's Office also paid special attention to compliance with the law by minors. There are also many issues to be solved here.

Support for orphans

The meeting also took a careful look at the support of orphans, the most vulnerable category of population, that needs to be given more attention, especially since the state has all the resources for this, the Prosecutor's General Office believes. Today 88% of orphans live in family–type homes, the rest – in boarding schools. The president's demanded to reach everyone, including in remote areas.

The Prosecutor General's Office proposed to revise the legislation and envisage additional support for this category of students. "For example, support on medical grounds. If a child needs glasses, then the state must provide them, among other things. Because they need to be protected, and only the state can protect them," Andrei Shved emphasized.

Monitoring group for textbooks

Another area of concern is textbooks. Despite many years of attention to this issue and the work carried out by the Education Ministry, problems remain and the direct line gets a flurry of calls from citizens ”regarding simplicity, adequacy of the information. The head of state instructed to once again review all textbooks and come to some uniform standard," the head of the State Control Committee said.

Some complains were examined during the meeting using specific examples, quotes from textbooks. Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed to set up a monitoring group for textbooks under the auspices of the Prosecutor General's Office and the State Control Committee. The group will include scholars, specialists, and philologists.

Back–to–school fairs

Vasily Gerasimov, Chairman of the State Control Committee, reported on the negative facts in the work of back–to–school fairs and the cases of some private retailers inflating the prices. Unfortunately, such facts are not isolated. But the situation is being monitored, and the necessary measures are being taken against dishonest retailers.

"We will continue to root out such cases," Vasily Gerasimov said. “Prices have been set. No one has the right to inflate them. The last case we identified was the price inflation of 2.6 times. Naturally, we suppress such facts and slap bans on such retailers. This will be done everywhere."

Transportation of students

Among the main critical topics was transportation. "Unfortunately, there are a number of shortcomings. There is progress in this matter. However, all measures have not yet been taken, and we have outlined ways to resolve this issue," Vasily Gerasimov said.

School meals

Much attention was devoted to the organization of meals in schools, the facts of theft. Education Minister Andrei Ivanets recalled that a pilot project was recently conducted in Belarus to test new cooking technologies and the principles of organizing school meals. "More than 350 new technological dishes have been developed. The infrastructure of the catering units is being modernized," he added.

The president welcomed experiments and innovations in this yet demanded to restore basic order, first of all. According to him, this issue should be resolved once and for all and is not revisited again and again.

The President Administration shall supervise the entire process of preparing educational institutions and the education system as a whole for the new school year. It shall exercise strict control with visits to schools and other educational institutions to assess the situation on the ground.