Health & Education

Brainiacs

Science in Education

A youthful population is reaping the benefits of government funding and a focus on scientific education.

Science in Azerbaijan is no longer a curriculum must or an educational hobby, but a tool to support economic and educational development. Government funding, and a growing understanding that the economy needs to be supported by a knowledgeable and diverse work force, has greatly improved the country’s capacity in the sphere of scientific research. Azerbaijan’s array of universities is filled with a predominantly youthful population that has been heavily encouraged by university enthusiasm and government initiatives and funding.

The oil and gas sector has, for a long time, funded and supported Azerbaijani youth, providing internships and graduate programs for successful candidates. However, there are now an increasing number of options available for curious minds. Exciting developments such as Azercosmos’s first satellite, Azerspace-1, have made a new element of ICT appealing. Proposals to create a National Nuclear Research Center may allow Azerbaijan to develop its scientific proficiency, as requests have been made to include nuclear sciences and technology majors to national education. The ICT industry is now providing more computer-science based opportunities, while the mining and metal processing sectors are set to increase their contribution to GDP. The Year of Agriculture in 2015 has also led to a more recent expansion of agrarian science. This diversification of the economy is allowing more and more students to explore a range of areas.

The government is at the heart of developing science in education on a national scale. The Minister of Education, Mikayil Jabbarov, stressed that, “Scientific research plays a vital role in improving educational quality in higher education.” Legislative documents have now been implemented regarding the organization of scientific research to support that. The Minister noted that new laboratories have been established or renovated and in various fields, including “nanotechnology, biotechnology, nuclear magnetic resonance, electron microscopy laboratories, and other scientific-research laboratories now function in different centers.” New laboratories have facilitated both students and scientific experts alike in conducting research and developing their skills. Prospects are also supported by Students Scientific Communities, which have started to encourage the youth to participate in science through seminars and conferences.

ICT has also become a crucial part of Azerbaijan’s non-oil sectors, which is mirrored by the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies’ endeavors. The Minister, Professor Dr. Ali Abbasov, says that the share of technological and science-based products as part of Azerbaijan’s exports are not nearly as high as countries such as Singapore and China; however, measures are being put in place to change that. Various science funds, such as the Science Development Fund and the State Fund for the Development of Information Technologies are helping with this. The Minister also strongly emphasizes that it “is important to strengthen the cooperation between scientific-research institutions, institutions of higher education, and corporations and industry.”

Scientific study and research is taking place in a number of sectors. The Rector of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS), Akif Alizade, points to the Year of Agriculture in 2015, and is eager to support the initiative. “We are seriously considering the integration of research results of Agrarian Institutes into the Agricultural sector of Azerbaijan.” He also mentions that there is the potential for the Academy to research the cultivation of high resistance types of wheat as well as different types of fertilizers. Innovation and research in various fields of science will be able to affect a range of sectors and provide firm opportunities for the development of a diversified economy.

For the first time, a convention for the scientists of Azerbaijan was held in December 2014, with the aim to look at how science could contribute toward the national vision, Azerbaijan 2020: Outlook for the Future. The main focus of this vision is economic diversification, which can only be supported by a knowledgeable and well-educated youth. Government authorities can be encouraged by the zeal of educational institutions, while the institutions themselves will be more than satisfied by the government’s positive impact not simply on education, but particularly on science.

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