Scientific and intellectual potential is the main strategic resource of Belarus. In 1950s Belarus became the country of universal literacy. In 1989, according to the results of the census, 899 people per each thousand engaged in the national economy had higher and secondary education; 144 people among them were the graduates from the higher educational establishments. Thus, we can say that Belarus had a developed system of education. It embraced 11,000 educational establishments; 430,000 teachers worked there; 33 per cent of population attended different forms of classes.
Nowadays the number of students attending different educational establishments has not changed. The republic guarantees its citizens the right to universal secondary education and creates means for further professional education. It tries to preserve the democratic character of education, paying much attention to common human values, developing independent critical thinking instead of simple perception of information.
The republic is reforming its system of education today with the aim of creating an independent, qualitatively new national school, corresponding to international standards and ensuring each citizen the right to the high-quality education according to his abilities and inclinations.
The reform envisages a continuity of study at all stages, such as pre-school, secondary school, vocational training and specialized secondary school, and at the higher school level. It gives teachers and students freedom in the choice of educational forms and methods, while the results must correspond to the state educational standards.
The main principles of the educational system in Belarus are the priority of human values, national culture as the basis of education, humanism, sense of ecological purpose, scientific basis, democracy, support of gifted children and so on.
In the period from 1996 till 2010 the reform envisages:
- 12 year secondary school. Academic education in the 11—12th forms according to the main trends of the higher education: humane, natural, aesthetic and technological.
- Primary vocational training at vocational schools.
- Secondary vocational training at secondary specialized schools and colleges.
- Higher education at two levels: the first level for those seeking a bachelor's degree (4—5 years) arid the second level to obtain a master's degree (5—6 years).
- Possibility for masters to obtain doctoral degree.
There have been changes in the organization of education itself. New types of educational establishments have appeared: gymnasia, lyceum, experimental school, college. There appeared non- state-owned schools of various kinds, private kindergartens, schools at home, commercial institutes. So, it stimulates effectiveness of education, creates non-idealistic attitude to society on students' part.