Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept.8
Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Stefan Fule met with Minister of Education Mikayil Jabbarov in Baku on Sept.8 to discuss reforms and modernization of the education sector, a message from the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan said.
In this context, the commissioner announced a new EU program to help improve the quality and relevance of the education system in Azerbaijan that has just been approved by the European Commission.
The new support worth €19 million has a special focus on higher and vocational education and training, strengthening civic participation, governance and inclusiveness of the education system in Azerbaijan.
"Education is one of the priorities of our cooperation with Azerbaijan. The country can count on our support and experience in modernizing its education system, particularly sharing the rich experience available in the EU member states. Reforming the education system - and specifically technical and vocational education -is the key to increasing job opportunities and mobility and through it building a modern society", Fule said.
The new EU funding will support the government to reform the higher education and vocational education and training (VET) systems, to improve their access, quality, and bring them closer to European standards and practices. A modernized higher education and VET system could train more qualified workers with adequate skills and knowledge to meet the growing needs of the labour market.
This will also help to improve the attractiveness of the education system; as well as the national and international recognition of qualifications, teaching and research in Azerbaijan. In the long run, it could lead to more job opportunities and mobility of students, teachers and researchers.
The program will also provide funding to civil society to increase its capacity and participation in the education sector, with specific focus on the dialogue between civil society, education authorities and business and social partners.
One of Azerbaijan's main challenges today is to develop human capital to diversify the economy. The education sector is particularly important in that process. Modernized higher education and vocational education and training systems can provide better learning opportunities, knowledge and qualifications needed for the development of 'knowledge-based economy' and non-oil sectors.
This new EU support program (the Annual Action Program 2014) provides €19 million of bilateral allocation to Azerbaijan. Its core objective is to contribute to the economic diversification of Azerbaijan by improving its education system. This will be complemented with targeted support to civil society organizations.
The funding comes through the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), the main financial and cooperation instrument through which the funding is given to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries, including Azerbaijan.