robotics class

Skills for the future: success story from Belarus

One experimental school in Minsk opened its doors in September 2018. The educational model focuses on pupils' needs and their learning interests. The programme is project-based and not strictly divided into traditional subjects.

Key competences: When should pupils learn how to communicate with others or work in a team? Is it too early to start working on the development of key competences at school?

A team of the teachers from Belarus working in STEMBridge school that opened in 2018 believes that the general education could contribute substantially to the preparation of the new generation of workers, ready for the industry 4.0.

Soft skills are in the core of the new educational model

Having worked for many years as a top manager in a multi-national company, Natalia Iskortseva, the headmaster and the founder of STEMBridge, encountered plenty of difficulties finding graduates equipped with relevant skills. “During the job interviews, I was making standard questions, and the candidates did not manage to reply. I’ve realized that most of them lack basic soft skills, such as expressing their opinion and presenting themselves, taking independent and well-informed decision, even taking on the responsibility was sometimes a challenge for them”.

But when is the right moment the right moment to start developing those skills?

“We believe that it is too late to develop those skills in the university, we need to start before”, says Irina Vdovina, the co-founder of the school.

The education process is based on close cooperation between teachers and different subjects. Even the physical space of the school is an open-air are with transparent partitions and the pupils can move freely throughout the space of different classrooms.

Professional guidance

Second pillar of this educational concept, new to Belarus, is the professional guidance that starts from the beginning of the school education. “We offer kids the opportunities to try themselves in very different areas, we take them to the real workplaces, and then they can take a decision on what do they like. This will be of a great help for them in the upcoming year when they will have to take a decision on the educational and professional pathway”, says Natalia Iskortseva.

The teachers are encouraged to bring career content into the curriculum bringing the learning process closer to life. For example, robotics and coding are the lessons, where the kids learn about IT technologies and tools with a perspective to the ongoing digitization of the labour market.

Learning to learn

Third pillar of the model is that the learning should be enjoyable for the pupils. The motivation of the learners is in the very centre of the schools priorities. “Our first victory is that children come here with joy” says the headmaster.

The people behind this new concept of the school education strongly believe that the preparation of the pupils to the constantly changing world of work should start much earlier. The soft skills, that will play a key role for the future employees, could be developed before actual professional and career guidance starts, meaning before the high school. In this field, STEMBridge is the first experiment in the educational landscape in Belarus that could provide the ground for the bottom-up transformation on the system level.

The young people in Belarus now have a wide range of opportunities: to go to college, to make apprenticeships, to attend university or to work. The well-informed decision is crucial for them to succeed, and the school could play a key role in this process. This new educational model could offer its pupils with as much experiences and information as possible, and at the same time to empower the students and motivate them for more active search of their education and professional pathways.

Torino Process launch in Belarus

The Torino Process is a periodical assessment exercise measuring the effectiveness of lifelong learning system reforms in EU neighbouring countries. The core objective of the Process is to provide national policy makers with evidence that would facilitate the decisions on how to proceed with the skills development agenda.

The fifth round of the Torino Process in Belarus is launched on 5th March 2019 and it focuses on quality of lifelong learning.

At national level in Belarus, a participatory dialogue and evidence collection process will take place. The findings from this exercise would form the basis for an assessment report that will be prepared by ETF, and then presented back in the country for discussion, leading to recommendations for policy and potential follow-up actions.

Background information

✅ Video about STEMBridge: https://www.facebook.com/etfeuropa/videos/618242665295736/ 

✅ More on ETF work in Belarus: https://europa.eu/!Mb48QH

✅ More on Torino Process: https://europa.eu/!JK46ku