The Republic of Belarus has a well-developed education system. Belarus is on a par with developed European countries and America in terms of literacy of adult population and young people, net elementary school enrolment, gross secondary and tertiary school enrollment rates. Every third resident of the country is a student.
According to the UNDP Human Development Report, Belarus is the CIS leader in adult literacy rate (99.6 percent) and has one of the world's highest levels of literacy of young people (99.8 percent).
Education expenses account for 6 percent of GDP per year and are higher than in a range of highly developed countries. Every Belarusian citizen has a guaranteed right to free secondary education and free tertiary education which is accessible to all through competition. Special attention is paid to ensure that equal access to education should be provided to young people from both rural and urban areas.
A system of pre-school education is well developed. Although it is not obligatory, most children attend a pre-school establishment before an elementary school.
General secondary education begins at a minimum age of six and includes two stages: basic school (9 years) and complete secondary education (11 years).
General secondary education can also be continued in colleges, lyceums and vocational training and secondary specialized education institutions, which provide both secondary education and vocational training. A certificate of general secondary education or vocational training is the main document allowing access to tertiary education. Two official languages, Belarusian and Russian, are used in the education system of Belarus.
The next stage is the system of higher learning. The ratio of students to the population in Belarus is one of the highest in Europe. University education is prestigious and accessible in the country. There are both state-owned and private establishments of higher learning in Belarus. The system comprises 43 state-owned institutions: 31 universities, six academies, two institutes, four higher colleges and ten privately-owned institutions. The Belarusian State University (BSU) and the Belarusian National Technical University (BNTU) are the leading institutions of higher learning in the national education system; nine institutions are the leading establishments in their respective sectors. The National Higher School trains specialists in 350 majors and in more than 1,000 sub-majors.
Universities offer full-time, part-time and also correspondence courses.
The curricula in the establishments of higher learning are designed mainly for five years. Full-time students, who do well, receive scholarships. University graduates of all types of universities receive a state diploma.
Advanced academic training is available through post-graduate and doctoral courses run at institutions of higher learning and research institutions of the Ministry of Education (www.minedu.unibel.by).
There is a network of institutions in Belarus providing refresher courses and advanced training.
Belarusian education is popular among foreign students. Fifty-one institutions provide paid education services to foreign citizens. The courses are run in Belarusian and Russian. the costs are set by the education institutions themselves with respect to each profession in accordance with international practice in the
PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND SPORT
Belarus is in the top twenty among 200 Olympic nations that participate in the Olympic Games.
In Belarus 1.681 million people go in for sport, which is 17.4 percent of the country's population; more than 26,500 specialists work in the sport industry.
There are 25,000 sporting facilities in Belarus. Belarus is proud of its ski resorts Silichi and Logoisk, and its ice arenas. In 2009 Belarus commissioned new ice arenas in Soligorsk, Baranovichi and Minsk. Minsk-Arena will play host to the 2014 IIHF World Championship. The speed skating track, which is part of Minsk-Arena, is one of the world's most advanced. In July 2009 Minsk-Arena's cycle track was the venue of the UEC European Track Cycling Championships.
The state also focuses attention on professional sports. The country has been developing a system of training of elite athletes, which includes sports schools, specialized schools of Olympic reserve, colleges of Olympic reserve, schools of higher sports mastership, centers of Olympic training.
Belarus prides itself on 68 Olympic champions: three-time Olympic champion in wrestling Alexander Medved, four-time Olympic champions Olga Korbut (artistic gymnastics) and Elena Belova (fencing), five-time Olympic champion Nelli Kim (artistic gymnastics), six-time Olympic champion Vitaly Shcherbo (artistic gymnastics), Olympic Athens champion Yulia Nesterenko (100m), gold medalist of the Beijing Olympic Games Oksana Menkova (hammer throwing) and many others.
Belarus has a high reputation in the international sports community. The country develops 132 sports.
In 2009 Belarusian athletes participated in 1,300 international sporting events and won 527 medals including 167 gold, 166 silver and 194 bronze medals. This is the record high harvest of medals in the history of Belarusian sport. Belarusian athletes medaled in 36 sports.
At the 21st Olympic Games in Vancouver Alexei Grishin (aerials) won the first Winter Olympics gold for Belarus in its independent history. Sergei Novikov won a silver medal and Daria Domrachev took a bronze (both biathlon). Belarus ranked 17th in the overall medal scoreboard.
At the 10th Paralympic Games in Vancouver Belarus placed 9th in the medals scoreboard with nine medals (two gold and seven bronze medals). The captain of the team Liudmila Volchek scored two gold and two bronze medals.
Belarus won eight medals at the EWF European Weightlifting Championships in Minsk in 2010 and ranked second following Russia in the medal table. Belarusian athletes won three gold and five bronze medals.
Belarus picked up 15 medals at the European sports sambo championship in 2010 in Minsk. Belarus claimed five gold, five silver and five bronze medals and placed second after Russia in the overall scoreboard.