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What is wrong with the academic freedoms and rights of students in Belarus?

22.03.2017  |  Society   |  EuroBelarus Information Service,  
What is wrong with the academic freedoms and rights of students in Belarus? AD

Minsk hosted a conference dedicated to the academic values ​​and the prospects for reforms of higher education in Belarus.

"Now our country is an outsider"

As noted by Kristina Murashova, the head of the information and practical organization "Students’ idea factory” and Belarusian student association BOSS  even if the Belarusian students are asked to express their opinion, it is not taken into account when trying to actually solve problems.

How can students convey their thoughts? One of the options is through creating a student association. Volha Smalianka, lawyer and Director of the Legal Transformation Center (LAWTREND) noticed that one of the requirements of the Roadmap for higher education is that Belarus should create conditions for establishment and registration of associations of students and teachers. "If we take a look at the plans of legislative activities for 2017, unfortunately, we see no freedom of associations there", - underlined Volha Smalianka.

According to the expert, nowadays Belarus has very poor law on public associations. Back in the 1990s our country has been quite progressive regarding this matter, but now Belarus is an outsider.

"There is a criminal liability for the activities of an unregistered organization In Belarus." – emphasized the lawyer.

All in all there are 2700 registered organizations in the republic.

 "Our legislation can refuse to register any public association, even if all the paperwork is done correctly."

Ukrainian experience

Ukraine joined the Bologna process back in 2005. According to Siarhei Kurbatau, Ukrainian philosopher, culture expert and an expert in the field of university education, Ukraine is facing contradictions between the centralized management system and formation of civil society in the academic environment. The second problem in the implementation of the Bologna process our neighbors experience is the substitution of terminology: to put it simply, beautiful words are used to talk about absolutely inadequate practices, which leads to corruption of the system of education. The third issue is when a certain practice is declared mainstream on the level of slogans without any assessment of its impact.  

"The Bologna process can not be the goal, it can only be a means", - Siarhei Kurbatau believes.

Roadmap: to be continued?

"We should not see the Bologna process as a panacea”, - agrees Uladzimir Dunaeu, member of the Public Bologna Committee.

The expert believes that the Belarusian higher education system needs a different kind of reforms. But this does not mean that Belarus does not need the Bologna process.

"Unlike many other countries, we have a thoroughly detailed Roadmap prepared for us. Unfortunately, we see little progress in the implementation of the Roadmap today. But I would not say that there is no progress at all."

However, the period for the implementation of the Roadmap is to be over in May 2018.

"For Belarus, it is necessary to raise the question of prolonging the Roadmap for the next period. This gives us a chance to save the instrument of international control and encouragement for the authorities to fulfill the obligations ", - concludes Uladzimir Dunaeu.

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