Opinion. Tatiana Shchyttsova on the BSU centenary

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7 mins

На русском языке: Мнение. Татьяна Щитцова о столетии БГУ
На беларускай мове: Меркаванне. Таццяна Шчытцова пра стагоддзе БДУ

Tatiana Shchyttsova, a graduate of the Belarusian State University, Doctor of Philosophy, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya‘s representative on education and science, shared her opinion that BSU could become a platform for discussing overdue reforms, but instead represses its students and teachers. Here are her words unchanged.

Opinion. Tatiana Shchyttsova on the BSU centenary

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya with Tatiana Shchyttsova / tsikhanouskaya.org

Today the Belarusian State University celebrates its 100th anniversary. In its history there are many significant achievements in various fields of knowledge and many famous names – scientists and teachers who have made a significant contribution to the development of higher education and science in Belarus. But has the university been able to become a truly modern national university – as many dreamed of after our country gained independence?

We’ve had 30 years to carry out reforms, to build a new state policy in the field of knowledge production – 27 of them fell on the period of Lukashenko’s rule. Today, we are forced to state with sadness that the higher education system in Belarus and the Belarusian State University, in particular, have not become the members of the Bologna system. This internationalization of the university proved impossible, since there was no serious reform of the educational institutions and the approach to the management of higher education.

There is no doubt that BSU with its human resources could become the main platform for qualified discussion and promotion of overdue reforms, but it did not.

The question «why?» would be rhetorical. The answer to it is known in advance to everyone: the authorities fully control universities and are not interested in their modernization and internationalization. All the imagination and political will the officials have to do is to stimulate applied sciences and research that can bring direct economic profit. As for fundamental science, theoretical developments, they are not considered as a priority.  This applies even to the physical and mathematical sciences, let alone the social and humanitarian disciplines.

The situation with sociological and humanistic research can be literally called critical. And the reason is the same: the current government has never been interested in an objective understanding of social processes in Belarus, in an open public discussion of controversial issues related to our history, culture and society. As a result, instead of becoming a place of generation and accumulation of intellectual resources for free reflexive comprehension of the problems of the modern world and the place of Belarus in it, BSU became an institution serving state ideology.

Does an educational institution that is unable to be a platform for the formation of independent scientific expertise, for the development of the ability of critical thinking and its application in the context of current tasks and challenges of modern life have the right to be called a university?

The university came to its centenary with an extremely undermined reputation, as demonstrated by the recent broken partnership with BSU by the University of Bremen. In the absence of university autonomy, BSU today has become a place where the leadership – with the tacit agreement of a significant part of the academic community – helps the illegal authorities to carry out repression against students and teachers who had the courage to declare openly their civil position, their disagreement with violence and violation of the law.

On the website of BSU it is written: «who has no history, has no future«. It is necessary to ask today’s BSU students and teachers – starting with the rector: do you remember your history? Do you remember, for example, that on October 29, 1937, after torture by the NKVD in Minsk, Yazep Korenevsky, the rector of the Belarusian State University, a scientist and teacher, was shot? If you do, what future you choose?

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