Education plays an indispensable role in the regulation of the socio-cultural life of each country, and in the training of highly-qualified persons. In order to find out the current state of the education system in Azerbaijan, and the work that has been done in this field, we talked to Nadir Israfilov who is an expert in the field of education.
Gidss.com presents an interview with a specialist.
How do you assess the current development process of Azerbaijani education?
The role of educational institutions in governance is limited, and state educational institutions are not financially independent. At the same time, the management of educational institutions is not responsible for the results of teaching.
The analysis of the current situation has shown that there is lack of a professional-based incentive system, the lack of infrastructure for teacher training, etc.
Here, we need to pay attention to the factor of teacher’s reputations. In many cases, teachers have low salaries and this plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of education.
The strategic goal is to create a new system for teacher career development and stimulation, to re-train the education management system, to improve the quality of education, to develop human resources in this field, and to increase the reputation of this profession.
What are the main achievements of Azerbaijani education in recent years?
First of all, much has been done in the field of construction, repair and supply, and the creation and further improvement of other infrastructures, modernization of education and application of modern technologies.
Additional discounts and stimulating measures have been identified for young professionals who have graduated from institutions and who began working as teachers at the colleages and universities.
There is lack of a professional-based incentive system
“Teacher of the future” scholarship has been established by the Ministry of Education since 2014-2015 to increase the interest of teachers.
Teachers’ diagnostics, diagnostic assessment of teachers on differential approaches to salary, have almost been completed. In order to improve the quality of textbooks, as one of the main tools in the implementation of the state educational policy, the Ministry of Education has been authorized to prepare the textbooks in addition to the currently used ones.
For this purpose, the Teaching Resources Department has been established and the preparation of spare manuals has begun.
2017-2018 academic year was Announced “Year of Quality in Education” in order to improve the quality general education institutions, to achieve qualitative changes and to mobilize opportunities for local education management.
With which foreign countries and organizations do we have cooperation in the development of education?
When we look at the directions of Azerbaijan’s cooperation in the field of education, we see that our country has wide connections with the most authoritative organizations.
The educational institutions of our Republic are actively involved in the work of institutions of influential international organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF, ISESCO, European Education Foundation, the Council of Europe and the European Union.
International cooperation in the field of education in Azerbaijan is mainly related to the implementation of joint educational events in accordance with international agreements, cooperation with international organizations in the implementation of international programs and projects, student exchange and various training exchange programs through scholarships from the implementing agency and other donor agencies and bilateral agreements on cooperation.
Based on this program, a number of measures have been implemented on student exchange,
specialist training, organization of internships of teachers abroad.
As one of the results of the fruitful cooperation with international organizations, we can emphasize the active involvement of Azerbaijani universities in the EU-funded TEMPUS / TASIS program.
Based on this program, a number of measures have been implemented on student exchange, specialist training, organization of internships of teachers abroad, and supplying universities with modern teaching equipment.
With financial and technical assistance of this program, a number of purposeful works has been carried out in high schools such as Baku State University, Azerbaijan State Economic University, Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan State Oil Academy.
In addition, the Ministry of Education established direct contacts with countries such as the United States, France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia, China, Japan and Israel, and these cooperations are continuing successfully.
Establishment of an “International Cooperation Department” at the Ministry of Education, with the purpose of identifying the main areas of international cooperation, is a new stage in ensuring international cooperation.
It should be noted that in the ranking, Azerbaijani universities are not even among the top 400.
Yes, there are many ranking systems and we cannot exactly evaluate the real position of any university; however, among these ranking systems, the position of any university does not increase or decrease by very much. According to the latest statistics, Azerbaijani universities have not even reached the level of Russian and Turkish universities.
The statistics are provided below:
This may be explained by the fact that the Azerbaijani education system is in a period of transformation. Azerbaijan has not completely moved to the western system of education.
There are a number of other factors that can affect the rating of Azerbaijani universities.
These are: the number of staff, capacity of the university, age of the university and, most of all, the funds that are allocated to the university. In comparison with US universities, the budget of which reaches even $5 billion, Azerbaijani universities do not have such funds and subsequently the level of education is lower.
What are your predictions about the future of Azerbaijani education?
Сonsidering all the successes and failures, it is possible to characterize the current state of our education as a transitional period.
After gaining independence in the 1990s, there were some gaps in the field of education as in the social and economic life of the country.
First of all, education does not accept the path of breakthrough, but rather evolves through evolution, stages of development.
The Education Reform Program, adopted in 1999, was one of the main goals of education, so that content and format changes were made in education through the preservation and development of potential accumulated over the years.
Instead of maintaining and developing accumulated potential, we have degraded our existing potential in the name of integration into the international education system. We couldn’t exactly get out of the Soviet “education”, nor did we integrate into the western education completely.
Our education, to some extent, was between East and West. For example, the adoption of the Law on Education has been delayed for more than 15 years and the work on the establishment of a normative-legal basis has been accompanied by intermittent breaks.
All these affected the dynamic and harmonious development of education. At present, our strategy has been developed, our goal has been defined, and our responsibilities are clear. The future of our education is in our hands.