Investing in education or opportunity to earn through intellect
The countries worldwide, including Azerbaijan, have entered an epoch when most of society's wealth is created outside material production. The importance and value of intellectual work have repeatedly increased, the level of population's education becomes a prerequisite in achieving high results of socio-economic development of countries. The way out of the crisis, which covered the world economy, can only be one - bet on knowledge, more precisely - economy of knowledge.
For several years, Azerbaijan has been pursuing a policy aimed at creating an effective education system that corresponds to the requirements of the global information and innovative society and giving everyone the opportunity to fully participate in it. Financial, material and human resources provided for the development of education in Azerbaijan for the years of its independence are comparable to the costs for these purposes in the developed countries.
Expenditure on education in Azerbaijan is the hugest after expenses on the army. The 2009 Public budget Azerbaijan provided 1.2 billion manat or about 180 million (10 percent) more than last year. With this, the country increases the share of education in country's GDP and raise this figure to the level of developed countries, where public education makes up 4.6 percent of GDP.
In addition, construction of schools rapidly continues in Azerbaijan. About 1,200 new schools were built, hundreds of old school were renovated over the last four years. According to the Education Ministry of Azerbaijan, only in 2010, construction of 49 schools for 17,434 seats and 10 additional academic buildings for 1,418 seats was completed, major repairs were carried out at seven schools, two vocational high schools, three kindergartens, orphanages, and current repair at 356 secondary schools and nine vocational high schools, 52 kindergartens, orphanages and five out-of-school educational institutions.
Thus, in UNESCO's rating at the beginning of the year, Azerbaijan has shown quite impressive leap up on the index of educational development in 128 countries. As a result of monitoring in the field of education according to parameters such as primary education, literacy rate, gender index and education quality, the country ranked 30th. This is one of the highest places among the post-Soviet countries when a year ago Azerbaijan ranked 58th for the same parameters.
In addition, the UNESCO 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report says that Azerbaijan is amongst the countries that have achieved the goals of EFA, i.e. the index of EFA (Education for All) has risen by 3 percent over Azerbaijan. According to the report, Azerbaijan could also increase the number of children receiving universal primary education, while in some countries such as Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, the figure declined by 5 percent.
Thus, according to the data provided by the Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan, on Sept. 15, 2010, 120,844 pupils will go to the first form. For comparison: in 2009-2010, 118,581 pupils went to the first form. In general, 1,359,900 pupils will go to 4,546 schools in Azerbaijan in 2010-2011 academic year.
However, along with advances, a lot of criticism and discontent with domestic schools remain in the society. People complain about illegal levies at schools and the poor quality of education. The Union of Free Teachers believes that the problems and shortcomings in Azerbaijan today are connected with the lack of a healthy teaching environment at schools. The education system is inseparable from society, it is part of it, and the available evils in society are always present at schools as well. The atmosphere in Azerbaijani education has been poisoned with the corruption, money relations, the cause of which is still low wage of the teaching staff, despite the periodical rise.
As compared with the experience of teachers at Estonian schools, where a recent graduate of the Pedagogical University receives a salary of $800 per month - a tenfold difference, in Azerbaijan a young teacher can earn 80-100 manat. In Estonia, a teacher with great pedagogical experience obtains up to $1,400 per month for 12 hours in a week. However, Azerbaijani experienced teachers, with 20 years of experience, working 36 hours per week, receive no more than 200 manat per month. The Union of Free Teachers says that in Azerbaijan there are teachers who work 36 hours per week, but at home prepare cakes for sale, work as a security guard. Naturally, they can not fully relax and get ready for the new labor day at school. Estonia has a very different atmosphere - creativity, love towards profession.
The Government continues to take steps to further strengthen the social protection of the educational institutions and increase public care. The final order by the President of Azerbaijan to increase the salary of employees of educational institutions was signed on September 1, 2010, under which the wages of employees of educational institutions financed from the Public budget (excluding higher educational institutions) were increased by averagely 10 percent.
Since there are many teachers as compared with specialists in other categories, to raise teachers' salaries sharply would not be correct, otherwise the country would face inflation, which would hit the economy. Indeed, there are many teachers at secondary schools in Azerbaijan. According to statistics, their number is twice more than those at law-enforcement agencies. The Ministry discussed the ways to reduce the number of teachers. Proposals were made to reduce the older teachers, sending them to retire, to reduce the teachers did not pass assessment of academic progress.
However, this was not an effective way. The State must reasonably anticipate the needs of young school teachers and accordingly open student places at pedagogical universities. The higher pedagogical education system should be radically reformed - planning should be correct, given jobs at schools in all districts. Currently the schools in the Republic's districts incur shortage of teachers, teachers conduct lessons on 7-8 subjects, but in Baku teachers are more than jobs at urban schools.
Insufficient effectiveness of domestic higher education institutions is largely connected with the lack of connection with the labor market: the universities train a large number of specialists for whom simply there is no demand. Because today higher education institutions do not work for society, do not meet the needs for necessary specialists, but for themselves, try to get more people on the faculties which are in demand of students who most often choose their future profession. As a result, have receiving education, they are provided with uneven work.
Azerbaijan must learn how to earn through the intellect, the intensification of its labor. It needs to continue investing in education, and not only in education, but in training the most decent, intelligent, talented children.