BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 27
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received in a video format Emin Amrullayev due to his appointment as Minister of Education.
The head of state made a speech at the video meeting.
Speech of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
- You are being appointed to the post of Minister of Education today. Very high confidence has been placed in you and you have to justify it with your work. You are young and your appointment is also yet another manifestation of the confidence in young people.
As you know, our country is pursuing a policy of promoting young professionals. Young people are appointed to very senior positions. I believe that Azerbaijan has now accumulated quite a positive experience in the field of governance. A synthesis between the experience of the older generation and modernity and innovation of the younger generation contributes to the successful development of our country. Despite your young age, you are experienced in the field of education and have worked in various positions in the Ministry of Education. Until now, you worked as director of the Institute of Education. Therefore, I am sure that you have a broad understanding and ideas about the problems facing education. The reforms carried out in the field of education so far must be deepened further. The development of education should be aligned with the overall development of our country and meet the most modern requirements.
A huge amount of work has been done in this area in recent years. The education sector is constantly in the spotlight, and this is natural because the present and future of any country is directly related to education. The experience of developed countries shows that the level of education is high in them. At the same time, the level of education largely preconditions scientific and technological progress. Looking at the experience of developed countries, we see that they became developed not because of their natural resources, but due to knowledge, competence, education and the development of science. Therefore, reforms have been carried out in Azerbaijan on my initiative for 17 years now, and they are based on the principle of turning black gold into human capital. Over the years, a completely new and modern generation has emerged, and young people are showing themselves in all areas today. Their activity, knowledge and interest in modern technologies are strengthening our country. Young people have always defended our borders and the peace of our people in the trenches, military posts and face to face with the enemy with dignity.
Reforms in the sphere of education must be deepened. I can say that the material and technical infrastructure of education has already been significantly renewed in recent years, as more than 3,500 schools have either been rebuilt or overhauled. The vast majority of higher educational institutions in Azerbaijan meet modern standards, new university buildings have been constructed and new universities have been set up. I believe that most of the work in this area has already been carried out. But issues that are still outstanding should also be resolved, and there is no time to waste. In particular, in the next two years, a project on the construction of modular schools in mountain and remote villages should be completed. This project is currently being implemented in many remote villages. Villagers and children are very happy about that. This program is being financed from the state budget. Therefore, I repeat: it should be completed in 2021-2022. In parallel, the quality of education should improve, and it is improving. This is evidenced by various ratings, and one of the key issues here is the professionalism of teachers, of course, because the level of education depends on the professionalism of teachers. The level of children’s knowledge depends on the level of teaching.
A lot has been done in Azerbaijan in recent years to restore traditional respect for the teaching profession. State spending has played a special role in this. In 2015-2018, a new approach was applied – a diagnostic appraisal of teachers was carried out. The salaries of teachers who had successfully passed this diagnostic appraisal were doubled on average. Of course, this provided an additional incentive for teachers. At the same time, the number of those interested in choosing the profession of a teacher has increased accordingly. And this makes me very happy because several years ago there weren’t too many people who wanted to become teachers. In the past few years, however, interest in the teaching profession has increased, because teachers are better paid now. There is great respect for them in society. They work in fine, well-renovated and rebuilt schools and universities now. Every year, on the eve of a school year, I visit new and renovated schools, every year I meet with children and teachers on the day of knowledge and note that the school is also a place of work for teachers. The work done in this area thus far certainly stimulates teachers. Therefore, it is necessary to take additional measures to improve the level of education.
Of course, you need to pay constant attention to the positive trends taking place in the world. We need to deeply analyze the reforms carried out in developed countries and those of them that suit us should be applied in Azerbaijan.
Several years ago, a special program was adopted on my initiative to educate Azerbaijani youth abroad. Within the framework of this program, thousands of representatives of Azerbaijani youth were sent to leading universities of foreign countries at the expense of the state. You are one of them and have been a participant in this program. As you know, we carried out this program through the State Oil Fund. This is also quite symbolic in nature. We could have implemented it at the expense of the state budget, but when deciding to implement it precisely through the State Oil Fund, I wanted to highlight that this is of strategic importance because the projects implemented through the State Oil Fund so far are projects of strategic importance. Among them, first of all, one can mention projects to improve the living conditions of internally displaced persons. Major infrastructure projects and this program were carried out along this line. Therefore, when this program was adopted, this issue was also reflected in it. At the same time, I remember that some members of the government suggested at the time that since we train young people abroad at the expense of the state, then a condition should be set before them: having received education, they must be required to return to the country and work here for five to 10 years.
I did not approve of that. I remember saying at the time that we are doing this in order to create an intellectual potential consisting of young personnel for our country and people. We are doing this so that our young people can study in the world's leading universities. How can we force them or put conditions before them? We must create conditions in Azerbaijan for them to want to return here themselves, because the people of Azerbaijan, the absolute majority of them are attached to their homeland, to their soil. You, too, are witness to the fact that without putting forward any conditions at that time, we sent young people abroad and trained them. I even said that if some of them never return to our country, they will still be the sons and daughters of the Azerbaijani land. If life in one country or another suits them, they will not break ties with Azerbaijan there either. The Azerbaijani communities existing and becoming active in the world today provide support for our country as well. We support them too. I have repeatedly said that all the citizens of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijanis living abroad know that a strong Azerbaijani state is behind them. Therefore, that positive experience has borne fruit, and you, as someone who received education abroad through this program, can confirm this. You have returned and worked here. Despite your young age, you were entrusted with senior positions, and today you are being appointed to the post of minister.
In parallel, another initiative was put forward at the time. The agenda included the establishment of branches of leading foreign universities in Azerbaijan. in a short period of time, branches of three foreign educational institutions began to operate in Azerbaijan. I believe that there may be more of them, and you will directly deal with these issues.
I would like to mention another issue. The general level of our education should certainly improve. The more educated people there are, the higher the intellectual potential of our country will become. At the same time, our education system must be aligned with the overall economic and industrial development of our country. Therefore, all these issues should be deeply analyzed, especially at the stage of admission to higher educational institutions. How many specialists do we need in this or that area? How many specialists are required in the humanities? How many technical professions do we need? Therefore, you must definitely decide all this together with relevant government agencies. Our economic and industrial development is proceeding according to plan. The state policy is being pursued. At the same time, thanks to the conditions created with the support of the state, the private sector is making large investments and everyone knows what areas are being invested in. What professions we will need afterwards – we know that too. Therefore, the key directions of our education should be closely connected with the industrial and economic development of the country. I want to say again: you must correctly analyze all this work together with relevant agencies and submit specific proposals.
There is another important issue and I believe that the time has come to address this issue more actively. This is associated to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the digitalization trends occurring in the world. Digitalization and the widespread use and application of modern technologies make certain professions unnecessary. The list of these professions is already available. They are gone and are not coming back. Therefore, you must constantly pay attention to this. There is no need to train specialists in professions that will not exist in five years. But in parallel, new professions will appear that do not exist today. We must train specialists in the professions that are expected to appear. At the same time, the disappearance of some professions may create another problem for us because Azerbaijan is a developing country in demographic terms and our population is increasing. As a result of the disappearance of some professions, unemployment may increase. The professions that will disappear do not require special professionalism and qualification, whereas new professions will require in-depth knowledge, competency and modern technology. Therefore, if we do not plan all this properly now, we will face major problems.
We cannot allow unemployment in Azerbaijan to grow rapidly, although it is growing in all countries during the pandemic. We must make sure that citizens of Azerbaijan are provided with jobs. Therefore, the Ministry of Education, together with relevant agencies, should certainly pay serious attention to this issue of particular importance. It is necessary to prepare and submit specific proposals and conduct awareness raising work on this topic in our society. Various events, discussions and debates should be conducted and people should be informed about this so they can prepare themselves or their children for the new times and give them the right guidance.
Vocational education is an issue of particular importance, especially in the current environment. The new vocational schools existing in Azerbaijan today differ greatly from the vocational schools that existed in Soviet times, of course. In Soviet times, mostly children who did not do particularly well in secondary school entered vocational schools after the eighth grade, and this was a common practice. Today vocational schools should be worthy of the highest respect. In recent years, several vocational schools have been opened in Azerbaijan together with some foreign partners, and children who did quite well in secondary school also enroll in them. It is important to encourage this because we need qualified professionals.
Our country is developing so rapidly today that personnel training cannot catch up with the industrial and economic development of the country. As a result, foreign specialists are represented in all senior bodies of the many modern enterprises created in recent years. I take it quite normally and don't see any problem in that. This happens all over the world because professional migration is a natural process. But I would very much like to see Azerbaijani personnel working in senior positions both in Azerbaijan and in other countries. Therefore, vocational schools are of great importance in that. Of course, here, too, we should first of all take into account the overall development trends, what professions we will need and when. For example, the rate of agricultural development in our country is very high and I know that interest in this sector is growing. Therefore, we need vocational schools in this area. It is necessary to take measures to ensure that the spheres of tourism, management and technical professions meet modern standards. Therefore, the further development of vocational schools must always be in the spotlight.
Several countries have put forward preliminary proposals. We already have experience. We usually do it in such a way that, for example, the Azerbaijani side takes care of all the technical and financial issues, whereas a foreign partner simply supplies our country with educational programs, technologies and modern standards.
Of course, the Ministry of Education does a lot to educate young people. Of course, first of all, the education of young people takes place in the family. I am very glad that the Azerbaijani society has managed to preserve family values for centuries. Raising a person in the family will contribute to the future of our nation. But in parallel, both secondary and higher schools should pay great attention to upbringing. Our youth should be brought up in a national and patriotic spirit, it should be attached to the Motherland and love it. In particular, every patriotic citizen of Azerbaijan today can be proud of his homeland. Azerbaijan has achieved great success in all areas today.
The upbringing of young people in the spirit of patriotism is of particular importance. After all, it is no secret that some external circles are sometimes trying to poison the minds of our youth and instill values that are alien to our people in them. This should never be allowed. Azerbaijani youth should be raised on the basis of Azerbaijani traditional values, be attached to the Motherland, cherish Azerbaijani values most of all, know their history, literature and native language perfectly well, and be proud citizens of Azerbaijan. Therefore, this issue should be treated with great attention. I positively assess the processes associated with educating our youth in the spirit of patriotism. I see that a new and modern generation is growing up, a generation that was born and raised during the period of independence. A modern, patriotic and morally sound generation will precondition the future of our country. The independence and well-being of our country will depend on them. They should defend national interests no matter what, just as we are doing that. Love of the Motherland and national values should be everything else all for them, regardless of any pressure, threats and unfounded accusations. But in order to achieve that, they must be brought up in the national spirit. If, under the pretext of globalization, a policy that is alien to us, essentially a policy of mankurtization and unification, is imported here, then our youth will not be able to protect the interests of our country in the future. This is the task of not only the Ministry of Education, these principles should prevail, first of all, in the families, schools, kindergartens, universities, in the army and society.
I want to say again that you have been given great confidence today. You must live up to this confidence with your work. I congratulate you and wish you success!
Minister Emin Amrullayev said:
- Dear Mr. President. First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to you. This is high confidence indeed. At the same time, it is a great responsibility. As you have noted, positive transformations have indeed been taking place in the field of education under your leadership of late. They are reflected both in student achievements and in our international rankings. It is gratifying that many variables, i.e. many indicators, are acknowledged not by the Ministry of Education or the government of Azerbaijan, but by influential international organizations or are based on the achievements of our students in international Olympiads.
As you have said, many achievements have been made in the field of education. You have listed some of these successes. In particular, I would like to note that one of our most important goals will be to ensure continuity of this vector, this positive direction. You have also noted the state program. Taking this opportunity as a citizen, I would like, first of all, to thank you because this program has changed my own life and the lives of thousands of Azerbaijani youngsters. This initiative of yours has changed the lives of many people for the better in the true sense of the word. As you noted, this program did not place any obligations on the citizens who went to study abroad. This was more of a moral obligation than material or legal. I think that it is possible to say that the overwhelming majority of program graduates are in Azerbaijan now and the time has come to recover these investments. Or, let's put it this way – to do it on a permanent basis is the moral duty of every graduate of the program.
Of course, our task is to carry out appropriate work in the areas you have listed. I believe that improving the quality of education and providing every citizen of Azerbaijan with quality education, including the rational use of public funds allocated for investment in education, will allow us the opportunity to pick up on the educational achievements in a short time.
I express my deep gratitude to you again and promise to do everything in my power to achieve the goals set before us. Thank you!
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you and I wish you success!