President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has addressed teachers, students and pupils on the occasion of the beginning of the new school year and Knowledge Day.
According to Report, the appeal reads:
Dear teachers and students!
I sincerely congratulate you on the start of a new academic year. This year, the new school year begins in new conditions, during a pandemic. With this in mind, the new academic year will be organized in a new format. Our main goal is to protect the Azerbaijani people from this misfortune, and all the decisions are to pursue this very goal.
I must note that Azerbaijan, having taken very prompt action from the first days of the pandemic, has saved our people from significant troubles. Since the beginning of March, all schools, universities, and other educational institutions were closed, and the primary goal was to protect children and adolescents from illness. Naturally, this has harmed 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. I am sure that the new academic year, which begins in the different circumstances, will be successful, that all our pupils and students will receive good knowledge, and teachers will fulfill their official duties with dignity.
We are currently preparing for a post-pandemic period. Of course, after the vaccine is received, we will say that this period is over. As you know, Azerbaijan is currently in talks with several companies connected with the delivery of the vaccine to our country. Of course, the developed vaccine must pass all stages of testing and receive international certificates. After that, the vaccine will be delivered to Azerbaijan. Then, I am sure we will be able to return to everyday, ordinary life, including the restoration of the traditional educational process in education.
Despite the consequences of the pandemic, the economic downturn, and the reduction of oil revenues, we continue to build schools and universities. It includes the fact that not a single social project has been cut. As you know, in 2019 and 2020, we provided citizens with a sizeable social package. This year, the state provided support to almost 5 million Azerbaijan citizens, and this support continues to this day.
As for the construction of schools, I can say that 147 schools are built this year. Most of them have already been built and made ready for the Day of Knowledge. Several schools are to be opened before the end of this year. I should also note that 45 out of 147 schools were built on the Heydar Aliyev Foundation initiative. For 17 years now, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been doing many works in this area. As you know, the construction of new schools in Azerbaijan has gained momentum within the framework of the "New School for a Renewing Azerbaijan" program launched by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
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 constructed and overhauled in just one year. I should also mention that over the past 17 years, almost 3,700 schools have been built and repaired in Azerbaijan. It constitutes the overwhelming majority of our school fund because there are currently about 4,500 schools in Azerbaijan.
At the same time, the construction of buildings for higher educational institutions was ensured this year. In June, I attended the commissioning of a new building for Ganja State Agrarian University in Ganja. The area of this building is 22,000 square meters. In September, a new installation of the Azerbaijan State Economic University was put into operation, and the location of this building is 13,000 square meters. Two new ADA buildings were commissioned, and their area is 35,000 square meters. Thus, in just a year, new structures of three universities with 70,000 square meters have been built. Of course, it requires major funds, and we allocate them because the funds allocated for education are funds earmarked for the future.
In 2004, I said that we need to turn "black gold" into human capital, and we did this. Not only has the material and technical infrastructure of education been strengthened in Azerbaijan in recent years, and all our higher educational institutions are based in renovated buildings today, but also the quality of education has improved. It is a crucial issue, and we see it in various areas. Our schools occupy high places in international Olympiads and become winners of the Olympiads. I can say that interest in the teaching profession has been restored and growing, which is manifested in numbers.
Every year, more and more young people choose the teaching profession. Many of our young people scoring high results in entrance exams want to become teachers because the working conditions have improved, they work in excellent schools and universities, their salaries have been increased, and teachers passing a diagnostic evaluation receive high salaries. Of course, this justifies young people's desire to become teachers. Besides, the teaching profession has always been one of the most respected jobs in Azerbaijan. I am happy that we are revitalizing the authority of this profession. It will also be knowledgeable people in Azerbaijan in the future because its intellectual potential will undoubtedly determine the successful development of any country in the modern world. It would be enough to look at developed countries' experiences and ask why they are considered developed. It is due to knowledge, competence, and technology. It is the developed countries that are now inventing and offering new technologies to the world. Many of these countries do not have natural resources. Therefore, the development of any country is not measured by its natural resources. In the future, this will manifest itself even more clearly. So the funds invested in education are funds invested in each country's future, independence, and security.
It is no coincidence that the expenditure allocated for education in Azerbaijan is second, among other budget expenses. If we were not at war, they would be in the first place because our largest expenditure is related to defense. And this is only natural. In other words, this in itself serves as an indicator, a manifestation of our policy, and reflects our intentions. I am glad that today our youth is attracted to knowledge. They must have experience and be competent to govern our country in the future. Our tomorrow will be in the hands of children, pupils, and students going to schools and universities today. Their knowledge and competence will, of course, determine the future of our country. At the same time, I must specifically note that our youth and children should be brought up in the spirit of patriotism, in the national mood, based on national values – traditional Azerbaijani values. Of course, the role of the family is of paramount importance. Simultaneously, teachers in all schools must educate students in the national spirit, in the heart of traditional values.
Today, under the pretext of globalization, we see manifestations of big politics – some external circles poison young people's minds and lead them astray. People come across false information, slander, and messages of a provocative nature. Sometimes young people cannot understand which statement is true and which is wrong.
Therefore, a lot depends on the teachers. We should protect our children and teenagers from the "values" that run counter to national customs and traditions. Our children should be attached to the Motherland and nation, value independence most of all, be brought up in the national spirit, in the heart of patriotism, defend and preserve the national customs and traditions we have maintained for centuries. If this is the case, Azerbaijan will continue to follow the path of independence and development.
As an independent country today, we have made great strides. 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. Today, Azerbaijan is one of a handful of states that carry out a completely independent policy – both external and internal. This policy enjoys the support of the Azerbaijani people. I feel it all the time, every day. 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 way of independence. The Azerbaijani people never depend on anyone in the future, so that we never fall under anyone's influence. As I said, knowledge, competence, patriotism, national spirit, and dignity play the leading role.
I am glad that today's Azerbaijani youth meets precisely these high criteria. I am sure that these positive tendencies will be continued, and our children and youth, having acquired knowledge and become qualified professionals, will continue to serve the Motherland as worthy citizens and contribute to our joint development.
I congratulate you on the start of the new academic year again and wish you success!