National initiatives for improving accounting education and strengthening professional accounting organizations (PAO) in Belarus were discussed at a workshop organized by the World Bank’s CFRR on September 20-21.
The event was part of the Strengthening Auditing and Reporting in the Countries of the Eastern Partnership (STAREP) regional program, which is supporting European Union Eastern Partnership countries, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, establish transparent policy environments and effective institutional frameworks for corporate reporting. Internationally compatible accounting education at universities and for professional development is a key requirement to build the capacity needed to support better quality corporate financial information. The STAREP Accounting and Auditing Education Community of Practice (EduCoP) are working together to modernize the education and development of accountants and auditors and develop a timetable for overhauling accounting education.
37 participants representing the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education, Institute of Professional Education, universities, PAOs, and regulators took part in the Minsk workshop. They considered the next steps in accounting education reform for Belarus, including national reform initiatives, and worked together on developing a detailed Country Action Plan of practical next steps to further modernize accounting and auditing education at university and professional levels.
The workshop was updated on advances being made as a result of STAREP. A comprehensive diagnostic of accounting degree programs at the leading public universities has led to significant improvements in degree programs, including through the use of a new range of “learning outcomes”. These changes have been recognized by a leading global professional accountancy body, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), who after assessment of the revised syllabus have awarded exemption accreditation (transfer credits) to graduates of the program.
Belarusian members of the EduCoP outlined the lessons learned at a Regional EduCoP meeting in Minsk in October 2016, including the need to reach ‘international standard’ in education to effectively contribute to a stronger business environment. There was discussion of International Education Standards and good international practices in accounting education reform. Participants considered possible initiatives to further strengthen the quality of accounting and audit education in Belarus, and emphasized the need for World Bank support to implement these initiatives. The workshop sought to raise awareness of the role and potential contribution of PAOs to reform efforts. Practical insights and examples of good international practices illustrated how PAOs can take a leading role in accountancy education, help strengthen the profession, and contribute to effective accounting and audit regulation in support of economic development. Participants shared views and considered options for strengthening the role and functions of PAOs and improving their collaboration with the local universities, and learnt how to ensure PAO good governance.
Next steps include follow-up discussion of the Action Plan among stakeholders in Belarus to reach consensus on the various initiatives proposed and integrate them into a structured proposal. A draft proposal will be presented and discussed at the next Regional EduCoP meeting in November 2017.