The Law on Education guarantees teachers adequate working conditions, protection of their honor and dignity, and salaries at least 1.5 times higher than average wages in industry. In the 1990s, though, the state of educational institutions was steadily deteriorating because of inadequate financing. Teachers' salaries were humiliatingly low, with long delays in their payment. In spite of all the difficulties, teachers still constitute one of the most enthusiastic and selfless groups of the Belarusian population.
Teachers are trained at professional secondary schools (vuchilishcha), teacher training institutes and universities, as well as classical universities and other higher educational institutions. In 1999 secondary schools were staffed by teachers of different ranks: 80 percent with higher education, 16 percent with specialized secondary, 3 percent with incomplete higher and 1 percent with general secondary education. Out of 17,100 faculty members of higher educational institutions, 54 percent had advanced post-graduate degrees (Kandydat and Doktar). Educators are concerned that the teaching profession on the preprimary, primary, and secondary levels has become a predominantly female profession. In 1999 there were 2,672 women and only 67 men teaching in primary schools. In higher educational institutions the figures are more evenly distributed between men and women (correspondingly 58.7 and 41.3 percent).
Every five years primary and secondary school teachers have to go through the process of attestation. As a result, they are assigned a category, which reflects the level of their professional efficiency and influences their salary. University teachers are promoted to faculty positions on a competitive basis. The upgrading of qualification is attained through faculties and institutes of advanced training, methodological seminars, and professional development courses, spirantura and dactarantura.
The research Institute of Pedagogy of the Ministry of Education, organized in 1928, is engaged in fundamental study of the history and theory of education, methods of teaching, as well as the development of state programs, curricula, and textbooks. Educational research is also conducted by the National Institute of Education, university departments of pedagogy and psychology, specialized research institutes, and laboratories. The Pedagogical Society founded in 1972 has a number of regional and city councils. Other organizations include the Teachers' Union, Council of School Directors, and the Association of Educational Researchers.
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