By Aisha Jabbarova
Azerbaijan is among handful of countries that carry out a completely independent domestic and foreign policy, President Ilham Aliyev said on September 15 that marks the start of the new academic year and is celebrated as Knowledge Day in the country.
Aliyev said that Azerbaijani people support the independent policy pursued by the government.
“This support gives me additional strength. Relying on it, we confidently lead Azerbaijan forward. Our children and youth need to lead the country along this path in the future – the path of independence, so that the Azerbaijani people never depend on anyone in the future, so that we never fall under the influence of anyone," Aliyev said.
The president said that Azerbaijan has made great success as an independent country.
“In any sphere, the Azerbaijani people see what the advantages of independence are. Azerbaijan is a dignified country today. It acts with dignity in the international arena. Azerbaijan is a free country and our citizens live in freedom. In the economic sphere, Azerbaijan is a developing country with a powerful army. We have achieved all this during the period of independence.”
Furthermore, the president spoke about the effects of COVID-19 on the country and about the government’s efforts to curb of the pandemic as well as its consequences.
He said that the government took relevant measures since the start of the pandemic.
"Since the beginning of March, all schools, universities and other educational institutions were closed and the main goal of that was to protect children and adolescents from illness. Naturally, this has had an adverse impact on the sphere of education. However, I believe that as a result of the measures taken, we have managed to prevent a significant part of the negative consequences of the pandemic in education," Aliyev said.
He said that the government is preparing for a post-pandemic period and is currently in talks with several foreign companies in connection with the delivery of the vaccine to the country.
The president further said that despite the consequences of the pandemic, the economic downturn and the reduction of oil revenues, the government continues to build schools and universities as 147 schools were built in the country in 2020.
He reminded that a large social package was provided to citizens in 2019 and 2020, adding that this year, the social package covers 5 million citizens.
"In the last two to three years, we have been building modular schools in small villages. This year, the construction of 60 modular schools will be provided. Thus, about 150 schools are being built and overhauled in just one year. I should also mention that over the past 17 years, almost 3,700 schools have been built and overhauled in Azerbaijan. This constitutes the overwhelming majority of our school fund, because there are currently about 4,500 schools in Azerbaijan, of which 3,700 have received a completely new appearance and have been rebuilt," Aliyev said.
The president reminded that a new building for Ganja State Agrarian University in Ganja, two new ADA buildings in Baku were commissioned this year.
Aliyev further said that education ranks second after defence in terms of the volume of expenditures allocated from the state budget.
"It is no coincidence that the expenditure allocated for education in Azerbaijan is in second place among other budget expenses. If we were not at war, they would be in first place because our largest expenditure at present is related to defense,” the president said.
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