Lukashenko urges to end restructuring in education


It is time to put an end to perturbations and reorganizations in the education system, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he made personnel decisions in the country's education system on 17 January, BelTA has learned.

“We embarked on a comprehensive restructuring, first of all, of the education system. I have already given my take on this matter more than once. The conclusion was unequivocal. It is time to end all these perturbations and reorganizations,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He recalled that an instruction was given to arrive at a final decision. It was necessary to conduct a serious evaluation of the Education Ministry and remove unnecessary structures.

The head of state mentioned one of the issues related to the restructuring of individual elements of the Education Ministry and its subordinate organizations.

In particular, this concerns the work of the Education Quality Control Department and the recently established National Agency for Education Quality Assurance. “There were plans to turn the department into a directorate that will assume the department's [functions] as the department was said to be no longer needed. At the same time, they have set up an agency,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Well, what is the difference then, what is the point?” the president asked.

Before his appointment as Rector of Brest State Technical University, Sergei Kasperovich led the Vocational Education Directorate at the Education Ministry. According to Sergei Kasperovich, the work to establish the agency is at the initial stage: the staff has been recruited. The mission of the new structure is quite ambitious, which is to ensure quality at all levels of education.

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked a reasonable question: “Has the department failed to do it?

“It coped with this task by and large. It has many tasks indeed, for example, licensing and apostille,” Sergei Kasperovich answered.

“So you transferred everything to the agency…” the head of state remarked.

Sergei Kasperovich confirmed: “Now, in fact, yes. Some of the functions have been transferred to the agency. The proposals under discussion include the proposal to integrate the department into the ministry in the form of a central office. In other words, it will be a full-fledged structure within the ministry, not a separate legal entity,” he explained. “The department, that is proposed to be turned into a central office, is to deal with licensing, apostille. The agency is to focus on all aspects of quality assurance: accreditation, quality control, verification of private educational institutions at all levels,” Sergei Kasperovich added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the fact that this will not make any difference. “Things will remain the same. Do you need to fund the agency? You do. People should be paid. You have hired 35 people or so. You have done this already!” the president said. Moreover, important matters are delegated to a nearly public association that does not even have a single civil servant in its staff.

The president also asked whether a relevant specialized department in the Education Ministry can cope with the functions to be assigned to the agency.

“A directorate with a staff of officials, say, 8-10 people ...” Sergei Kasperovich began to answer with doubt in his voice.

“No, I am not talking about numbers now. It can be 200 people if necessary,” Aleksandr Lukashenko responded.

“It will handle it, provided there is a sufficient resource,” the specialist responded.

“I don't understand the essence of this whole reshuffle. Well, here you have 8 people in your directorate [as part of the Education Ministry] and 35 at the agency. And it will handle it. So you take these 35 people. You can take 30, plus these 8 people. And do your job. If there is order and discipline, one person will be able to handle it. And if there is a chaos, then 200 people will be to no avail,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Listen, the president gave this instruction and so on [to streamline the Education Ministry]. The directorate instead of the department. And the department remained the same. Nothing changed, it was just named an agency and thrown out of the ministry with no single civil servant in its staff. Two tasks were completed. It seems that the structure and personnel issues of the directorate were sorted out [staff optimization ]. But in fact, if you take a deeper look, things seem worse than before,” the president said.

The president raised a reasonable question with Sergei Kasperovich: “If you were, say, the head of the department, and you were told to head up the agency, would you agree?”

“Hard to say. That would be a difficult decision to make,” the specialist noted.

“I would not agree,” the president said.

“Indeed, the department has power, reputation, years of work under its belt. Educational institutions stand in awe of it,” Sergei Kasperovich agreed.

“Absolutely right, it is an independent structure,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized. “And what have we done? Have we made any good impact?”

Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Sergei Kasperovich noted that any proposals for improving, reorganizing the education system are always very seriously weighed up and discussed at the level of the head of state. According to him, final decisions have not yet been made regarding the department and the agency. “I believe there will be a separate report by the department head and by government members to the head of state who will make decisions on these matters,” the expert said. “The question now is how to improve our operations: what will happen to the Education Quality Control Department, will it be incorporated into the Education Ministry as a separate department or will it continue as it is, how will the interaction with the national agency proceed? Today, the agency is actually coordinated by the department. There is a shared understanding of the need to improve its work, increase its efficiency,” Sergei Kasperovich said.

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