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Belarus

Can Belarusian railways keep pace with the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Winnie Wang's picture
Also available in: Русский


If you were to take a train from the Belarusian capital of Minsk to any satellite town, it would likely be cheaper than commuting within the city itself. This sounds like a good deal for inter-city passengers, but it also underscores the challenges facing the long-term development of Belarus’ railway system.

So, how can the railway system be maintained and upgraded to meet new demands, without making train trips unaffordable for ordinary Belarusians?

I believe Belarus will benefit greatly from the Human Capital Index – Here’s why

Alex Kremer's picture
Also available in: Русский


On 11 October 2018, the World Bank launched its Human Capital Index, which quantifies the contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of workers. The Index is part of the Human Capital Project, a global effort to accelerate more and better investments in people. Belarus didn’t participate in the Index this year.

Back in 1440, King Henry VI of England founded a college for poor scholars, providing a free education for boys whose families couldn’t afford to pay. At that time, the young students learned to read and write so that they could later work as administrators in the royal court.

A few centuries later, in 1977, I became one of “King Henry’s scholars”. I’m not working for a king, of course, but I recognize how lucky I am to have benefited from Henry’s medieval investment in human capital. One could perhaps call him a “very early adopter”.

These days, investing in people makes more economic sense than ever. Human capital – the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives – accounts for up to 68% of a country’s overall wealth, on average. In the case of Belarus, where I now live, the share of human capital in the country’s total wealth is somewhat lower, at 49.2%.

Has Belarus really succeeded in pursuing gender equality?

Alex Kremer's picture
Also available in: Русский
I sometimes wonder — do women in Belarus live a good life? Well, they are better educated than men, live about a decade longer than men, and enjoy generous social guarantees (3 years of child care leave, for example). And they have a high-level of labor force participation and representation in politics.

Even by international standards, Belarusian women seem to live well. In the latest Global Gender Gap Index, Belarus was ranked 26th out of 144 countries — higher than Australia or the Netherlands. The statistics certainly indicate a high-level of gender equality in Belarus.

But what do the numbers really mean in reality?

Why PISA is an important milestone for education in Belarus

Tigran Shmis's picture
Also available in: Русский


When students’ skills and knowledge are measured internationally, some countries get a big surprise – especially countries considered to have top-quality education. Take Germany, for example.

Germany’s first PISA results, in 2000, revealed low performance among students compared to their peers in other countries – this was called the “PISA shock”. Fortunately, this outcome triggered large-scale education reforms in Germany, leading to greatly improved PISA performance.

On the other hand, PISA results are sometimes a pleasant surprise. Take for example the high performance in 2012 of Vietnam – a country with low per capita income but, apparently, a very efficient education system.

Around the world, interest in measuring the real learning outcomes of school students has been on the increase. The number of countries participating in the PISA study, managed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), grew from 32 in 2000 to 79 in 2018.

This year, Belarus participated in the PISA assessment for the first time, with support from the Belarus Education Modernization Project, which is financed by the World Bank.

Belarus – looking behind the facades

Alex Kremer's picture
Also available in: Русский
I began work in Belarus last September. Looking back, I can see three phases in my love affair with Belarus.
 
In the first phase, before I came here, I heard the stereotypes about Belarus’s reputation, the simple clichés spread about by journalists too lazy to recognize the country’s complexity. You know them as well as me: “the last dictatorship in Europe”, “the last remnant of the Soviet Union”, the republic of potatoes, the land of grey buildings and grey skies.
Night scene in downtown Minsk, Belarus.
 

Belarus: Achieving high-income is not possible without completing the transition to a market economy

Ivailo Izvorski's picture
Also available in: Русский


Belarus is undergoing two transitions. The first is the transition to high income. This is a feat that has been accomplished by only about two dozen counties since the 1950s, half of which have done so during the last twenty-five years. The second is the transition to a market economy. Completing the first transition will be impossible without achieving the second one. And here is why...