Appeal to World Bank on Belarus Higher Education Modernization Project

The Honorable David Malpass
President of the World Bank Group

Dear Mr. Malpass,

We, the members of Belarus Freedom Forum, would like to bring to your attention our concerns about the ongoing Belarus Higher Education Modernization Project (ID #P167992) and call on the World Bank to halt any lending to the Republic of Belarus and reallocate the funds associated with it.

Providing funds to the state-owned higher education system of Belarus is immoral and counterproductive, as the current atmosphere of intimidation and the ongoing political repressions against students and faculty make any improvement and innovation highly unlikely. The system brought the lack of resources and highly skilled employees upon itself. It is primarily a result of brain drain related to politically motivated firings, limited research freedom, and censoring students' and faculty’s speech.

A case in point is the so-called “Students trial." Among the twelve defendants in the case, all recognized as prisoners of conscience, ten are students, and one is a faculty member. The government fails to retain highly qualified employees in the system; it also actively forces the state-owned universities to terminate talented researchers and highly qualified faculty and expel students. Such behavior defeats the purpose of this project, rendering improvement in the quality of higher education impossible.

Additionally, please note that the agency in charge of implementing this project, the Ministry of Education, is part of an unrecognized illegitimate government. Among countries that refused to recognize it after the fraudulent presidential election of 2020 are many members of the IBRD, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the member countries of the European Union. Therefore, a future government in Belarus cannot be held responsible for repaying any debt incurred by the Lukashenka regime after September 2020.

We urge you to stop any lending to Belarus within this project. If possible, we request that the World Bank redirect these funds to the governments that support exiled Belarusian students and faculty who left the country due to or in fear of persecution.


Belarus Freedom Forum

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