Belarus president attacks rectors for not pushing Soviet-style dogma

April 2, 2004

Universities in Belarus are not meeting President Aleksander Lukashenko's expectations for the indoctrination of students in loyalty to the state.

The president told university heads at a conference of the Council of Rectors of Higher Education Institutions that they were failing to generate "constructive ideas and efficient measures".

Instead of students having their state-oriented consciousness raised, he said they were turning to alcohol, drugs and "various malpractices" - a euphemism for activities critical of the regime.

President Lukashenko set up the rectors' council in 2001 to ensure that the higher education sector conformed to his wishes. He appoints all new rectors of state and private institutions.

University debating clubs are discouraged, and students are told to join the official Belarus Republic Youth League. Universities must teach a course in "fundamentals of state ideology".

One student said his lecturer "stands like a robot at the blackboard and reads a lecture in a monotonous voice". He added: "We could spend this hour and a half doing other important things, instead of sitting and understanding nothing."

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