By Sabina Idayatova
Azerbaijani Ministry of Education, the state oil company SOCAR and water operator Azersu have signed a memorandum on cooperation in support of the activity of primary vocational schools.
"Vocational education is one of the priority areas of Azerbaijan's education system," Minister of Education Mikayil Jabbarov said at the signing ceremony.
According to Jabbarov, there is very much need of employers in personnel prepared for professional specialties. On the other hand, the staff prepared by vocational schools do not have the qualities necessary for the job market.
"The purpose of the signing of the memorandum is to contribute to the development of Azerbaijan's economy, improving the system of specialized personnel training according to the requirements of the labor market and in accordance with the state program on socio-economic development of the regions, and strengthening relations with job placement organizations," Jabbarov said.
SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev, in turn, expressed confidence that the cooperation with the Ministry of Education on training and support of special institutions of primary vocational education will yield successful results.
Azersu Chairman Gorkhmaz Huseynov said at the ceremony that the cooperation with the Ministry of Education will allow a systematic approach to the issue of relevant training of specialists. Huseynov also expressed confidence in the successful joint implementation of the outlined tasks.
On the same day, Jabbarov told journalists that an Action Plan will be prepared for the enforcement of the signed decree on the approval of the State Education Development Strategy by the Azerbaijani President on October 24.
The strategy targets creation of an economically stable educational system with infrastructure based on up-to-date technologies, staffed with qualified teachers and taking a leading position in qualitative indexes among other countries. The Cabinet of Ministers was given five months to submit a plan on the strategy implementation. Every year a report on the process of the strategy implementation is to be submitted to the President of Azerbaijan by March 1.
The strategy's directions include the creation of effective education while applying innovations and new technologies, the creation of a transparent and fair administration system on the basis of public and private partnership, as well as establishment of new education financing mechanisms.
Targets of the new strategy cover transition to 12-year secondary education with the preparation of special standards; introduction of compulsory one-year pre-school training of children with compulsory pre-school education covering up to 90 percent of children; creation of a system of teachers' remuneration that is competitive in the labor market and differentiated depending on qualification and results, etc.
Touching upon different issues of the new education strategy, Jabbarov said that granting independence to the universities will increase the knowledge and skills of graduates.
"Granting autonomy to universities, regardless of their form of ownership, will increase the level of knowledge, professional skills and competence through improvement of the management model in educational institutions, ensuring transparency and efficiency of their activity and improving the quality of the educational processes, " he said.
Independence has already been provided to Azerbaijani universities with regard to some issues, the minister said, noting that granting autonomy envisions increasing accountability, not reducing it.
He cited the need of studying the successful experience of leading educational systems of the world.
Speaking about the shortage of pre-school educational institutions in the country, Jabbarov said that the issue should not be resolved by the state. "The solution to this problem should be sought in the extension of cooperation with the private sector," he said.
"If the private sector would be interested in pre-school educational institutions, the ministry is ready to support such initiatives," Jabbarov said.
According to him, the key point in this issue is the compliance of the interest of these institutions and the private sector with the regulations, requirements and standards of domestic educational legislation.
Furthermore, the provision of mandatory one-year pre-school preparation is planned in the country in accordance with the State Education Development Strategy.
Preparation of new curricula for the development of the children of pre-school age and revealing their creative capabilities is also envisaged in the document.
Moreover, a 12-year system of general education will be introduced in Azerbaijan, 10 years of which is mandatory secondary education and the two upper school years complete secondary education.
Under the existing system in Azerbaijan, the period of mandatory secondary education is nine years.
Moreover, schools are to be provided with administrative, academic, financial and organizational autonomy.
The new strategy also envisages a phased increase of the financial motivation of teachers by differentiating on the basis of the experience and results of the work done. Thus, the ratio of their annual salary to GDP per capita is to increase 1.8-2 times.
According to the strategy, the annual cost per pupil in secondary education also will be doubled in relation to GDP per capita stage by stage.