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The education reforms in Azerbaijan

  


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The first steps towards the implementation of the reform – two level higher education.
After Azerbaijan gained its independence, the need for fundamental reforms in education as in other areas emerged. The start of the transition process from the Soviet education system to modern and international standards education system goes back to the mid-90s of the last century. The first important step in this direction, two-level higher education (bachelor and master) started to apply in 1993. This year for the first time, student admission to bachelor\'s degree of 23 higher educational institutions of the country has been implemented. Later fundamental changes and novelties occurred in the context of bachelor education. The rules further improved, the standards in accordance with the requirements of international education system were applied and the process of implementation of the credit system education in education began. After the second graduation of the Bachelor\'s degree in higher education in 1997, the transition to second level of higher education at high school - master\'s degree applied. Till 2005 the admission to magistrate was conducted by high schools. That year the admission of students to Magistrate was assigned to the State Commission on Student Admission by decree of the President and it provided the implementation of admission to the second level of the higher education by successfully tested method of test.
 
Structural Reforms
In 1999, after the approval of the Reform Programme in the field of education in Azerbaijan Republic, in entire education system, including at high education level the reform has become systematic. Basing on that program as with the other levels, the structural changes have been carried out in higher education, too and the network of entities was optimized, new specialties were added to the structure of specialist training. Independence, more powers were given to educational institutions. High schools have begun to solve the issues like defining the structure of research councils, state attestation commission structure, its internal structure, preparation of curriculum on the basis of state educational standards on specialties and other matters. In addition, greater independence was given to 6 high schools and they began to work on the principle of self-government. Financing of those high schools with a separate item in the state budget is carried out since 2001. 

Educational reforms carried out jointly with the World Bank
Azerbaijan began an active cooperation with international organizations to match its education system to the international standards. Since the late 90s of the last century, the World Bank is a partner of Azerbaijan in the implementation of educational reforms. In 1998, the loan agreement has been concluded between the International Development Association of the World Bank and the Government on the implementation of education reforms. Following it the State Commission was established to organize reforms in the education system of the country by decree of the President of Azerbaijan. The task of the Commission was to prepare a program of reforms in the education system on the World Bank loans. The first phase of co-operation with the World Bank on the reform of the education system continued until 2003. Since 2003, the second phase of the reforms got a new form of content and substance. According to loan agreement concluded the same year between the Ministry of Education and the World Bank the Education Sector Development Project during the years of 2004-2009 was implemented. The project co-financed by the World Bank and the Government of Azerbaijan education, covered areas of improving governance and strengthening the material-technical base of schools, teacher training, curriculum preparation, preparation of textbooks and etc. Continuing cooperation with the World Bank in the implementation of the education reform Azerbaijan started the implementation of the project on the development of the education sector covering the years 2009-2014. As a result of educational reforms implemented in cooperation with the World Bank among results achieved so far, the application of the new textbook policy in the public education system, establishment of Textbook Evaluation Council being an independent agency for the implementation of this policy, the adoption of the new national assessment concept of public education, adoption of the new concept for continuous teacher training may be shown.


Higher education reforms and Bologna process
Reforms in the higher education field are implemented within the cooperation with European institutions, the European Union, with the European Commission. Joining the Bologna process has a special role in the reforms in higher education. In 2005, Azerbaijan joined the process intending creation of a single European space of higher education and which began in 1999. Joining of Azerbaijan to the Bologna process made a need to get higher education in the country, meeting the common European standards. Since 2005, reforms are carried out in this direction.  
Action Plan was approved for the implementation of the Bologna Declaration, which covers the period 2006-2010. But the most important step in higher education reform is the adoption of the state program on May 22, 2009, approved by the President of Azerbaijan. The main purpose of State Programme of reforms in the higher education system in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2009-2013 years was the integration of higher education of the country to European education space, building of its content in accordance with the principles of the Bologna process, providing of attractiveness and the competitiveness, meeting of needs in high educated staff according to  development requirements of the national economy, as well as formation of cadre potential in accordance with the requirements of information society and knowledge-based economy, formation of system of effective education system from economic and social point of view for providing opportunities to get higher education meeting the modern requirements of the population   
 Formation of new legislation base for expanding of education reforms in Azerbaijan and harmonization with international standards became necessary. To this end, in June, 2009, a new law On education was adopted after the public debate in the parliament and its implementation started.
 
Study in abroad on state funds
In addition to implementation of works towards improving the standards of higher education within the country, the country\'s President pays a serious attention on the education of young people abroad. According to the strategy of transferring oil capital into human capital Azerbaijani state began funding of education of youths at world\'s leading institutions of higher education and a separate state program was adopted for this purpose. Main objective of “State Program on education of Azerbaijani youth in foreign countries in the years 2007 and 2015” approved by decree of the President of Azerbaijan on April 16, 2007 are: to bring the number of Azerbaijani youths sent for study abroad at the expense of state on all levels of education to 1000 persons in the year in 2015, and their total number during 2007-2015 to 5,000, dividing  education within the financial resources allocated, for the bachelor\'s, master\'s, residency, doctoral degrees, as well as qualification improvement and retraining, providing of  professional training on the basis of  the exchange of students among higher education institutions  and based on intergovernmental agreements, taking into account the priorities of economic development of republic.
The program is financed by funds allocated by the State Oil Fund. After the approval of the program each year by the State Oil Fund allocates USD10 million for the education of young people outside the state. For the year 2012 this amount was increased to 15 million manat. Under this program, the Azerbaijani young people are sent for education to developed countries like Australia, South Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore, the U.S., Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Belgium and Great Britain.

Funds allocated to education increased by 3 times in the last 6 years
Besides beginning of new reforms in the education system Azerbaijan has increased volume of funds allotted by the state in several times, in parallel to economic development of education in the country. The rapid growth of the state budget expenditures on education started since 2005. Funds allocated to education increased by 3 times since then. Thus, spending on education in 2006 was about 480 million manat, in 2011 these expenditures amounted to $ 1.27 billion. This is approximately 8.2 percent of the total budget expenditure. An important part of the state budget expenditure on education is directed on construction of new schools, for the modernization of the educational infrastructure. The volume of investments in the construction and repair of school, compared with 2004, was increased by several times. As well as the more funds are allocated on construction of new schools in the country, repairing and modernization of the old ones by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and the Reserve Fund of the President of Azerbaijan. 
Development of education in Azerbaijan, providing of children and young people with world class education, training of highly qualified personnel comprise of important part of the strategy of the country’s president on turning of oil capital intellect to development of professionalism. Investments in education are long-term and strategic importance. This investment forms an important basis for the long-term development of Azerbaijan and will begin to show its results in the next few decades more obviously.



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