Most children in Belarus go to preschool for a few years before starting regular school. Nine years of compulsory schooling prevail, from the age of six or seven. The great majority also go to high school. But the teaching is considered to be of uneven quality and the position of the Belarusian language is weak.
In primary school, students first go through a four-year and then a five-year stage. At the upper secondary level there are two-, three- and four-year programs, some of which are theoretical and others vocational. About two out of three also read some post-secondary education. The number of college students has increased sharply since independence in 1991.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Belarus, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
There are around 50 universities and colleges, most of which are state. All teaching is largely controlled by the regime.
An independent university, the European University of Humanities (EHU), was located in Minsk between 1992 and 2004, when it was closed by the authorities. However, it has continued to function as a university in exile in the capital of Lithuania Vilnius. The closure was officially explained by the fact that the university did not have suitable premises, but in reality it is considered to have been due to the university having extensive contacts with the western world.
During the communist era almost all education was conducted in Russian. It was not until 1990 that Belarusian (Belarusian) first languages were taught in primary schools and old Russian textbooks began to be replaced by Belarusian counterparts. But since Russian became the nation’s second official language in 1995, it has again become the dominant language in teaching. Although Belarusians have experienced something of an upswing in recent years, especially in cultural contexts, the schools are few where the teaching is in Belarusian. Higher education is given almost exclusively in Russian.
Since the regime began to open contacts with Western countries, things have happened that can also affect the school. With the support of the World Bank (to which Belarus has been affiliated since 1992), modernization projects in the school world are funded. A school money system has been tested to improve the distribution of resources between schools. In the spring of 2019, the bank announced that an additional € 90 million had been allocated to invest in raising the quality of teaching for 65,000 pupils in rural schools. In 2018, Belarus participated for the first time in the OECD’s PISA measurements. With the World Bank’s support, it is intended that the knowledge evaluation will be carried out in Belarus also in 2021 and 2024.
- Searchforpublicschools: Offers schooling information of Belarus in each level – compulsory, technical and higher education programs.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary school
95.7 percent (2017)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
99.6 percent (2009)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
11.1 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
11.1 percent (2017)
Spies are sentenced to prison
Two Belarussian citizens are sentenced to ten years and eight years respectively for spying on Lithuania’s behalf. They have been in custody since March 2012.
Bjaljatsky gets MR award
Imprisoned activist Ales Bjaljatski is awarded the first Vaclav Havel Prize for Human Rights. Bjaljatski was sentenced in November 2011 to four and a half years in prison. The Vaclav Havel Prize of € 60,000 is awarded by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in collaboration with the Vaclav Havel Library in Prague and the Czech Charter 77 Foundation.
Arrest causes conflict with Russia
Belarus is drawn into a conflict with Russia after Belarusian police arrested Vladislav Baumgertner, CEO of the Russian company Uralkali, which manufactures and exports pot ash. Uralkali also has operations in Belarus. According to Belarusian prosecutors, the highest directors of Uralkali have enriched themselves through illegal transactions, at a cost to Belarus of 100 million US dollars. Vladislav Baumgertner is charged with abuse of power and faces up to 10 years in prison. Moscow protests and Russian oil companies are ordered to reduce their deliveries to Belarus by 25 percent. The conflict intensified in September 2013 when Belarusian prosecutors formally designate Uralkali’s largest shareholder, the Russian oligarch Sulejman Kerimov, as a suspect of abuse of power.
Doctor in hunger strike
Doctor Ihar Pasnou of Vitebsk is said to have begun a hunger strike after a court sentenced him to forced treatment at a psychiatric clinic after he openly criticized the city’s poor health care.
Activist sentenced to prison
Opposition activist Andrej Hajdukou is sentenced to 18 months in prison for trying to contact “a foreign intelligence service”. It is not clear from the judgment which country it would apply to. Hajdukou worked in 2010-2011 for Presidential candidate Andrej Sannikau, who in October 2012 was granted political asylum in the UK.
Foreign Minister Makej is allowed to travel to the EU
The EU repeals the entry ban on Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makej “to promote diplomatic relations” between the European Union and Belarus. Husk and several other high-ranking Belarusian officials have been denied visas to the EU since January 2011.
New law restricts foreign TV
A new law limits the possibility of incorporating regime-critical or foreign TV channels. From now on, special permission is required to install satellite antennas or regular TV antennas on roofs and facades in multi-family homes. For already installed satellite antennas, the owners must apply for permits afterwards.
Russia’s defense minister announces military plans
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shujgu says after talks in Minsk that Russia will station four advanced anti-robot batteries in Belarus 2014 and that a Russian military air base will be built in the country by 2015.
Border guard sentenced to prison
A border guard is sentenced to two years in prison for failing to report the border violation when a plane dropped teddy bears across Minsk (see July 2012).