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HE Mikayil Jabbarov

AZERBAIJAN - Health & Education

The ABCs

Minister, Education

Bio

HE Mikayil Jabbarov graduated with a degree in Law from Baku State University in 1997. He has earned two Master’s degrees, one from McGeorge School of Law, US and the other in Economics from Azerbaijan State University of Economics. He has been a member of the New York City Bar Association since 1999. Having first joined the government in 2002 at the Ministry of Economic Development, he served as the President of Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) between 2003 and 2004. Following tenure as the Deputy Minister of Economic Development between 2004 and 2009, he was appointed the Minister of Education in 2013.

TBY talks to HE Mikayil Jabbarov, Minister of Education, on the challenges the youth of Azerbaijan face, as well as the opportunities, and how to better develop the students of the country.

Azerbaijan has a notably young population. What challenges and opportunities does that provide for the Ministry of Education?

Continued investment in education and healthcare has allowed us to nurture an independent minded, healthy, and creative youth that features prominently in every aspect of our development. The guiding principles of this investment are enshrined in Azerbaijan 2020: the Vision of the Future and the National Strategy on Development of Education in the Republic of Azerbaijan. The State Program on the education of Azerbaijani youth abroad in the years 2007-15 has enabled our brightest students to continue their education at leading institutions around the world. While instruction and learning have seen considerable development in recent years, the provision of affordable and equitable access to education remains a government priority. Another challenge is bridging this gap between the labor market and the current education system, which presents several challenges regarding the reform of content and the delivery of education. Considering the substantial investment being directed toward this, the adequate support systems need to be in place to continue this development.

How can the First European Games contribute to the development of education in Azerbaijan?

Baku European Games Operation Committee has undertaken important steps in order to ensure the smooth running of events and will recruit around 22,000 volunteers for this purpose. It is important to note that the majority of the recruits will be university students, which will get a chance to hone their skills and abilities along with their studies; an experience that will undoubtedly be valued highly by potential employers in the future.

The State Program on education of Azerbaijan youth abroad in the years 2007-15 has become a significant feature of Azerbaijan’s education policy. What new plans are being made for the next stage of this program?

This program provides a unique opportunity for the most successful students to continue higher education at leading universities all over the world. As of today, the total number of scholarships awarded has been over 3,000, and there are more than 800 graduates. The main objective of the Program was to train professionals in the appropriate fields and provide our youth with the necessary skills to be a productive part of the rapidly developing economic environment. Our graduates have had successful careers in a variety of fields and have contributed to national development in a range of ways. They are in great demand in the private sector with their international experience and academic record, and the majority of the graduates currently hold leading positions in industry. The government has also created special mechanisms for State Program alumni in order to fast track them into civil service. We must use our experience to design tools to reach our objectives in the next stage. Azerbaijan 2020: Vision of the Future envisions the approval of a new State Program on the study of Azerbaijani youth abroad in the years 2015-20. Whereas the first State Program was regarded as a short to medium-term tool in meeting the immediate need for skilled cadres, the new stage presents wide ranging strategic goals and transformations. The new program will involve the exchange of academic staff in addition to the support of Azerbaijani youth studying abroad. It will contribute to the improvement of our educational system and the implementation of scientific research. Faculty staff will get a chance to enhance their skills and academic experience through training and the engagement of the foreign faculty in local higher educational institutions will help improve our universities.

How would you assess opportunities for foreign students to study in Azerbaijan and opportunities to develop the current situation?

Traditionally, the Oil Academy, Baku State University, Azerbaijan Construction and Architecture University, Nakhchivan State University, and Azerbaijan State University of Economics have attracted students from neighboring countries, mostly in the fields of energy, medicine, and oriental studies. Since regaining independence, we have worked to create new centers in order to appeal to a broader audience while maintaining interest in traditional fields. We promote a competitive environment in higher education in order to encourage research and teaching in various fields. The new generation of universities established include ADA University, which set a goal to prepare innovative global leaders and drive collaborative research on public and international affairs. The improvement of education of foreign students has always been at the center of attention. As a result of this policy, students of 72 countries have been granted a chance to study in Azerbaijan. The improvement of legislation in addition to joint action and cooperation between the Ministry of Education and universities make Azerbaijan an attractive destination for students. The participation of our universities in various exchange programs, such as the Erasmus+ has demonstrated an increased interest in Azerbaijani higher education institutions in recent years. We are building upon these positive trends in order to create a framework for an improved cooperation with foreign students in the long term.

What opportunities do Azerbaijani students have to be involved in scientific study in 2015?

Scientific research plays a vital role in improving educational quality in higher education. Several recent legislative documents including Regulation on organization of the scientific-research activity of learners in higher education institutions and regulation on Students Scientific Community with the aim to coordinate this engagement, were implemented in the 2014-15 academic year. Higher education institutions in Azerbaijan have expanded their efforts to establish new scientific-research laboratories in addition to renovating outdated ones. Nanotechnology, biotechnology, nuclear magnetic resonance, electron microscopy laboratories, and other scientific-research laboratories now function in different centers. Many students and experts have received the opportunity to conduct scientific research—many have received international grants in order to update their equipment and infrastructure. Moreover, Students Scientific Communities aim to engage youth in research and encourage their active participation, through the organization of annual seminars, international and local conferences at different branches. These events assist students in obtaining presentation skills, and allow them to hone their research and contribute toward their theses and other academic work. Students and higher education institutions also cooperate closely with Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS), which in turn facilitates the involvement of young researchers at its centers.

How effective was the assistance of employment centers for Azerbaijani students in 2014 and what further steps can be taken in this direction?

While we focus on education delivery, we must take pause to consider the future prospects of our graduates. Career and employment centers currently function in universities. One of the main objectives raises awareness among students and employers, and establishes durable links with both the public and the private sector. Recent events have seen representatives of leading companies presenting information on future employment opportunities and engaging with students early on in their academic and professional career. In fact, several companies have carried out selection of future employees among Bachelor’s and Master’s degree students during these meetings. We aim to establish appropriate departments for work with graduates in all higher education institutions in the future, in order to coordinate and streamline the active dialogue for meaningful study and employment.

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