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On May 22 - 26, an introductory training course “Fundamentals of Demography for Civil Servants” was held in Minsk. It was attended by representatives of partner organizations of the project “Support to the Implementation of the National Programme of Demographic Security of the Republic of Belarus” – specialists of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs – totalling about 40 people.

The main objective of the event was to introduce civil servants to the latest demography trends, expand the range of their professional tools, and enhance their competencies on a number of topical issues. The issues discussed in the course included, inter alia, the topics of migration, fertility, aging, mortality, demographic forecasts, and policy development in the field of demographic security.

The instructors at the course were reputable researchers: Anatoly Vishnevski, PhD (Economics), Director of the Institute of Demography, National Research University, Higher School of Economics (Moscow); Sergei Ryazantsev, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the Centre for Social Demography, Institute of Socio-Political Research under the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow); Gayane Safarova, Academic Supervisor of the Laboratory for Analysis and Simulation of Socio-demographic Processes (St. Petersburg Institute of Economics and Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Sciences); Alexander Sidorenko, Senior Advisor at the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research (Vienna); Tomas Kucera, Head of the Department of Geography and Geodemography, Charles University (Prague), et al.

Addressing the audience, Elena Kasko, Assistant Representative at UNFPA Belarus, noted,

“What makes these courses unique is that representatives of government agencies and the academic community received new knowledge in the field of demography, and that leading national experts spoke before the audience along with international demography experts. The sphere of demography is experiencing rapid growth and specialists need to carry out a well-timed “information reset” in order to respond promptly to the new challenges.”

The courses also comprised a number of thematic roundtables, where listeners could exchange opinions in a discussion format.

The event ended with a wrap-up session and award of certificates.

The international technical assistance project “Support to the Implementation of the National Programme of Demographic Security of the Republic of Belarus” was launched almost two years ago. It is aiming to improve the system of monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of demographic policy and enhance the demographic education system in Belarus. At present, one of the most important activities under the project is the national sociological survey “Family formation, stability of family relations and fertility in the changing socio-economic conditions of the life of Belarusians.” From April to November 2017, about 10,000 permanent residents of Belarus aged 18-79 will be interviewed. The purpose of the survey is to analyse the family formation and fertility processes and reproductive behaviour trends and assess the effectiveness of the national demographic and family policy.