Digest of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's Office on Education and Science, February 2023 / Issue 2

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  • Civil Society and Education

– The educational project “Octopus: education for Belarusian children today and tomorrow” announced an open call for financial support of educational projects. The purpose of the call is to develop and strengthen vitality and research elements of “new education” (new methods and organizational models) for Belarusian children, both within the country and abroad. The duration of the project should be from 3 to 12 months, it should start not earlier than May 1, 2023. Grants in the amount of 1,000 to 60,000 euro will be allocated for the selected projects, applications are accepted from February 2 to March 20, 2023. The organizers promise to answer on accepting or rejecting the application till April 20, 2023.

– On February 18, Lviv hosted an international seminar “Decolonial Approach in Education and Science: Challenges and Tasks under the Conditions of War”, organized by EHU and the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) on the initiative of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s adviser on education and science Tatsiana Shchytsova. Scientists from Belarus, Ukraine, Italy and the USA made their reports on the experience of decommunization and decolonization of education in Belarus and Ukraine.

– "Virtual Universityinvites to a free online course on Belarusian history of architecture given by Associate Professor, Candidate of Historical Sciences Anatol Stseburaka. The author of the course will give four popular science lectures on ancient architecture of Belarus, medieval temples of the Great Duchy of  Lithuania era, magnate residences and religious buildings of the Baroque era, and the main trends in the development of Belarusian architecture in the 1st half of the 20th century.

– On February 13, in Vilnius, EHU held an information meeting “On the possibilities of financing internships and cooperation with researchers in Germany”.

– The meeting was organized at the initiative of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s adviser on education and science Tatsiana Shchytsova. Presentations were made by representatives of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and the Center for East European and International Studies (Zentrum für Osteuropa- und internationale Studien, (ZOiS). The event was attended by about 50 Belarusian scientists. The participants learned about research projects in Germany and the possibilities of obtaining financial support for research activities.

– Education expert, former assistant of the Ministry of Education Siarhei Alsheuski analyzed the data of the international PISA study on the educational achievements of Belarusian students in 2018 and compared it with a similar national study. The expert concluded that the authorities manipulatively used the results of these studies to create an attractive image of the secondary education system, despite the fact that the studies revealed significant problems of the Belarusian secondary school.

– On February 5, 2023, within the project of the Institute of Philosophy of the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences there was opened  a series of lectures called “The Science of Art and the Art of Science” by Irina Dubianetskaya, senior researcher of the Institute of Philosophy of the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences. The topic of the lectures was “Ethnophilosophy and Belarusian cultural codes”. They took place at the Belarusian National Art Museum. The first lecture from the cycle was devoted to the topic “Traditional worldview of Belarusians and ethnophilosophy as a self-reflection of Belarusian culture”. In it, the lecturer spoke about the Belarusian traditional picture of the world, its inner meanings and connections, as well as about the new science – ethnophilosophy, which studies them. The video recording of the lecture was published on the YouTube channel of the Institute of Philosophy of the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences.

– Stanislav Kostka Secondary school and lyceum in Warsaw (Mokotow district) invites Belarusian schoolchildren of various ages to study there. The school, which has been operating for more than 20 years, is attended by children from Eastern Europe and the former USSR. The training is aimed at adapting children to the Polish education system and the Polish-speaking environment, the training includes compulsory classes in Catholicism, which are held in an artistic form. Education is paid (PLN 1300 per month), the fee can be reduced to PLN 500 per month or more after consultation with the Życie Foundation. More information can be found on the website of the school and lyceum.

  • Repressions

– On February 7, the trial of a well-known teacher-Italianist, former associate professor of Minsk State Linguistic University Natalia Dulina began. She is accused of promoting extremist activity (part 1 of article 361-4 of the Criminal Code) and organizing and preparing actions that grossly violate public order, or actively participating in it (part 1 of article 342). According to the charges against Dulina, she faces up to 6 years in prison. The woman was detained on October 3, 2022 for an interview to an independent media, recognized by the regime as an “extremist formation”. Prior to that, she had been detained 6 times for active participation in protests, sentenced to administrative penalties, including arrest.

– On February 6, the trial of two political scientists, prominent representatives of the Belarusian expert community, Tatsiana Kuzina and Valeryia Kastsiuhova, began. They are accused of plotting to seize state power, calling for sanctions and inciting hatred (part 1 of article 357, part 3 of article 361, part 3 of article 130 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus). Valeryia Kastsiuhova is the editor of the expert websites “Our Opinion”, “Belarusian Yearbook”, she also led the monitoring group of experts “Belarus in Focus”. Tatsiana Kuzina is the organizer of Sympa School of Young Managers of Public Administration, a school of young managers in the field of management. According to the first of the mentioned articles of the accusation, women are threatened with punishment in the form of imprisonment for up to 12 years.

– Former assistant of the Forest Institute of the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences Uladzimir Butskavets was sentenced to three years in a penal colony for “creating an extremist formation” (1 article 361-1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus). The basis for the accusation was that Butskavets administered the VKontakte community “FOR THE ONE STATE LANGUAGE in Belarus!”. The verdict was handed down by judge Ruslan Tsaruk.

– The Lyceum of BSU is holding preventive conversations with its employees who, according to information received by the administration of the Lyceum, could be on one of the August marches participants in 2020. In addition, according to confidential sources of the Nasha Niva publication, it is planned to legally oblige applicants of the Lyceum to enter BSU after graduation lyceum, it means to make admission to the BSU lyceum “targeted”.

– It became known that the political prisoner, philosopher Uladzimir Matskevich was kept in a cell-type room for three months by decision of the administration of the Shklou colony No.17. In addition, for a long time he was denied the possibility of correspondence and telephone calls. On February 13, according to the results of the trial, Matskevich was replaced with a stricter detention regime: he was transferred from the colony to Mahiliou Prison No. 4.

– In Homel, riot police violently detained 21-year-old first-year student Aliaksei Malakhouski. In the pro-government Telegram channel, the security forces published a video with the young man in which he is accused of “rehabilitating the ideas of fascist Germany, inciting racial, national and social hatred”, for which a criminal case was opened against him under the relevant articles of the Criminal Code (Articles 130, 130-1).

– An assistant at one of Rechytsa schools was detained after he expressed support for the Ukrainians in the war with Russia in a conversation with provocateur Yury Komar on chat roulette. A pro-government telegram channel linked to GUBOPiK posted a video of the detainee calling him a “Nazi”.

  • Regime Politics

– Alexander Lukashenko, speaking about the training of personnel for the media in Belarusian universities, said that his regime needs highly qualified media workers. Therefore, in his opinion, students of journalism specialties “are needed to work with so that they are, first of all, patriots of our country”. It is known that a special council will be created at BSU, which will include employees of the pro-government media, to select students with “ideologically correct” thinking.

– Participants of the military aggression against Ukraine recorded their video greetings to the Rechytsa “SKIF” youth training center, which is run by a supporter of the regime, former paratrooper Vladimir Gabrov. According to the information from Mahiliou human rights activists, “SKIF” constantly travels to local schools with weapon exhibitions and agitation to join the club, and the club's students are being prepared for admission to Russian military schools.

– Igor Sergeenko, head of Lukashenko's administration, urged teachers in the regions to arrange screenings of patriotic films for schoolchildren. As an example of such a film, he called “Rzhev. 500 days on fire” about the events of the Great Patriotic War, which has an age limit of «18+» due to the presence of documentary footage with the bodies of the dead. Also in the film there are shots of the opening of the monument with the participation of Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin.

– Pupils of the cadet class of Minsk School No. 152 will take part in keeping watch at the walls of the “MuZeum of Victory” in Moscow, known for its exhibitions that glorify the participants in the aggression against Ukraine. The action is planned as part of a military-patriotic rally at Moscow school No. 37, in which Belarusian schoolchildren take part.

– For students of secondary school No. 9 in Mazyr, an online meeting was held with girls from Homel Penal Colony No. 4 so that “schoolchildren could find out from their peers who stumbled and are serving sentences about how they got into prison”.

– An ideological online meeting was held in Lida on the basis of the local library, which was attended by workers of the Department of Ideological Work and Youth Affairs of Lida Executive Committee, representatives of youth organizations in Minsk, several Russian cities and the “Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics” – this is exactly how these regions of Ukraine, partially occupied by the Russian Federation are named in the reporting publication about the event on the pro-government information resource. One of the topics of the event was “patriotic education of Russian society”.

– The Ministry of Education has approved a testimonial form for school and college graduates. The document must reflect the personal and moral qualities of the student, which, according to the approved form, include, among other things, “attitude to state and public institutions”. As Minister of Education Andrei Ivanets previously reported, the characteristic will be taken into account when entering universities.

– In Belarus, less attention will now be paid to the development of the humanities in comparison with the sciences that provide an “economic effect”: the State Committee on Science and Technology published a message about such a structural change in the training of scientific personnel, presenting it as an achievement.

– “Our Money” channel analyzed the statistics of hired and fired workers of the education system in Belarus and concluded that against the backdrop of a growing need for professional staff, the number of employees is rapidly declining, which will inevitably lead to a deterioration in the quality of education. According to the channel, in 2022 the education system lost 5.1 thousand employees. The greatest losses were in Minsk, Mahiliou and Hrodna regions.

– Applicants from Belarus will be able to enter Russian universities based on the results of a centralized exam.

– The dean of the Faculty of Journalism of the Belarusian State University became the author of propaganda articles of the publication “SB. Belarus Today”, guest of propaganda TV programs, candidate of historical sciences Aliaksei Bialiaeu.

9 March 2023 в 16:00