Belarus' independence, the transitions to a market economy, and the quest for democratization have initiated important changes in Belarusian education. It was restructured and most of the educational institutions were subordinated to the Ministry of Education instead of to numerous ministries and agencies. Family and special education were included in the educational system. Courses indoctrinating Communist ideology were eliminated from the curricula. The content of education became more diverse, with more attention given to each student. The reform, which will continue until 2010, aims at providing equal educational opportunities for all citizens; reviving national and regional cultural peculiarities and reflecting them in the curricula; developing the legal basis of education; and working out new mechanisms of financing the educational system.
In order to integrate its educational system into the world community, Belarus is actively cooperating with Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and a number of European countries. In 1999 Belarus and Russia signed a treaty on a two-state union envisioning their greater political and economic integration. The same year they adopted a joint program—The Formation and Development of a Unified Educational Community of the Belarusian-Russian Union. It is centered on a number of projects aimed at the preservation of the historical and cultural unity of the two states. The major ones are the coordination of educational standards and normative bases of the licensing; attestation and accreditation of educational institutions; the elaboration of a textbook on the history of Eastern Slavs for secondary schools; the unfolding of distance education programs; as well as the establishment of the department of Slavic Philology at Mogilev State University and the school of Slavic Studies at Smolensk State Pedagogical University. The CIS Council for Educational Cooperation was set up to ensure coordinated efforts directed towards the creation of a joint educational community, development of a mechanism of mutual equivalency of educational degrees and ranks, and generating a joint information system. In order to participate in European projects, the Republic of Belarus joined the European Cultural Convention. It also cooperates with UNESCO, the Council of Europe, TEMPUS/TACIS, the British Council, German Service of Academic Exchanges, and numerous United States organizations and agencies. Hopefully, all these efforts will stimulate an unprecedented expansion and diversification of the Belarusian educational system.
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