Annual essay competition for high school and university students in Belarus
construct a country in which you will live
The competition was launched in 2013 at the initiative of Dr. Jacek Giedrojć. It has since been held annually by the Belarusian think tank Discussion and Analytical Society Liberal Club with the support of the Liberalna Edukacja Foundation.
The competition targets high school students of older ages and 1st – 3rd year university students across the whole country. They are offered to write an essay (1000-1500 words) in Belarusian, English or Russian within the thematic framework chosen every year. The essays are then assessed by the competition’s jury, which comprises well-known experts, academics and businessmen.
All essay authors are invited to a 3-day long weekend school where they take part in lectures and seminars by members of the jury and invited speakers, participate in debates, and various creative intellectual contests. In the end, the winners are awarded during a special ceremony.
All the participants automatically become alumni of the essay competition. Several alumni events are organized throughout the year: small workshops, informal discussions, etc.
The inaugural competition was dedicated to the topic “Does Belarus Need Market Reforms?” The organizers received 25 entries that dealt with the following questions:
- What are market reforms?
- Are market reforms fair?
- Are the Belarusians ready for market reforms?
- Are there alternatives to market reforms in Belarus?
- Where and when should market reforms begin?
- How to implement market reforms in the educational system (or healthcare system)?
- What will Belarus look like in 20 years?
The school focused on the same set of questions and aimed at providing the participants with more background and better understanding of the phenomenon of reforms and its topicality for Belarus. They also got to learn about foreign experience of structural reforms and the relation between reforms and business environment.
The invited speakers of the school included: Dr. Jacek Giedrojć (Founding Partner at the Warsaw Equity Group and President at the Liberalna Edukacja Foundation), Dr. Leanid Zaika (Chairman at the Analytical Centre Strategy), Yaraslau Ramanchuk (President at the Minsk Mises Centre), Daniel Krutzinna (Managing Partner at the Civitta consultancy company) and Mikhail Barazdzin (Owner and CEO at the investment company “Mikhail Barazdzin Agency”).
The second competition was dedicated to a broader topic – “Belarus between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Integration”. This time the organizers received 27 entries that covered the following thematic spectrum:
- How can Belarus find its own place in the regional politics and economy?
- To what extent is Belarus different from Russia and the EU?
- Which integration project is more beneficial for Belarus?
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of being a member state of the Eurasian Economic Union and the EU?
- Doing business in the EU vs. the Eurasian Economic Union.
- How to bridge the two integration projects?
- What strategy should Belarus adhere to against the background of the Ukraine crisis?
These questions were addressed in more detail during the school. The invited speakers included some old and new faces: Aldo de Luca (Swiss Ambassador in Belarus), Dr. Jacek Giedrojć (Founding Partner at the Warsaw Equity Group and President at the Liberalna Edukacja Foundation), Yaraslau Ramanchuk (President at the Minsk Mises Centre), Ivan Sadovsky (Owner and CEO of the footwear company “Yalina”) and Daniel Krutzinna (Managing Partner at the Civitta consultancy company).