Azəbaycan Respublikası (The Republic of Azerbaijan) is located in southwestern Asia and is bordered by the Caspian Sea, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, and Russia. The population is 8,177,717 and the literacy rate is 98.8%. Azeri is the official language
and is spoken by 90.3% of the population while Lezgi, Russian and Armenian are spoken by the remainder.
Evidence of human settlements in the area of present-day Azerbaijan can be traced back to the Stone Age. It was at one time a part of Alexander the Great's empire. It was ruled by many dynasties, including the Persians. In 1813, it became part of the
Russian Empire following the Russo-Persian Wars.
With the collapse of the Russian Empire after World War I, Azerbaijan joined Georgia and Armenia to form the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. In 1918, Azerbaijan withdrew from the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic and became
the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic which ended after the Soviet invasion and the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic was established.
On October 10, 1992, Azerbaijan was granted independence from the Soviet Union.
Until independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Azerbaijan followed the Soviet educational model. Education reforms began in 1993: schools are more independent and are less-controlled by the State, and Azeri is now the language of instruction rather
than Russian, although some schools teach in Georgian and Armenian. Education in Azerbaijan is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 15. Currently, the country's education system is overseen by the Ministry of Education
Primary and Secondary Education
Primary school is 4 years beginning at age 6.
Basic (lower secondary) school is 5 years following primary school and, upon completion, students are awarded a Certificate of Basic Education. General upper secondary school is 2 years and, upon completion, students are awarded a Certificate of Complete
Secondary Education. Vocational secondary school is 3 years, and, upon completion, students are awarded a Certificate of Complete Secondary Specialized Education.
Post-secondary education is offered at public and private universities, academies, institutes, colleges and conservatories.
First-level university studies are 4 years and lead to the Bakalavr. Five-year programs leading to the Diploma of Specialist are being phased out.
Second-level university studies are 1.5 to 2 years and require a Bakalavr or a Diploma of Specialist for admission. Upon successful defense of a thesis, students are awarded a Magister. After studying for 3 years and passing examinations
in a foreign language, political science, and in the field of study, students are awarded a Certificate of Candidate’s Minimum Examination Results for each examination. This program is in the process of being phased out.
Doctoral studies are 2 to 3 years and require a Magister or a Certificate of Candidate's Minimum Examination Results for admission. Upon successful defense of a dissertation, students are awarded a Doctorate (Ph.D.). Three-year doctoral programs
leading to the Kandidat Nauk (Candidate of Science) are being phased out. After further advanced research and defense of a thesis, Ph.D. holders are awarded a Doktor Nauk (Doctor of Science), but this diploma is also being phased out.
All teachers must hold a Bakalavr (Bachelor) in education. Most are trained at Azerbaijan State Pedagogical University and the Ganja State Pedagogical University.
Historic Milestones in Education Reform
Bologna Process and Implementation of Bologna Principles:
Azerbaijan joined the Bologna process in 2005.
- The two-cycle structure of Bachelor + Master was established in 1993.
- The third cycle doctorate was established by the Law on Education of September 2009.
- The ECTS system of grades and credits, and the European Diploma Supplement, are not yet in use.
- Diplomas and diploma addendums are issued bilingually in Azeri and English.
- International partnerships and student mobility programs are being promoted.
Education Reform Programs Announced (January 2009):
Educational reform plans for both the secondary and higher education sectors were announced in January 2009.
The Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers approved the "Program of Activities for Reforms in Secondary Special Education in 2010-2013", while the President has ordered a "State Program on Reforms in the Higher Education System of Azerbaijan Republic for 2009-2013".
For example, in 2008 the number of undergraduate "specialties" (majors) was reduced from over 500 to about 150, and reorganized. A reform of master's degree specialties is in progress.
New Law on Education (Effective September 2009):
The 2009 Law on Education was discussed for 15 years before it was passed. It replaces the 1992 law passed after independence from the USSR. During that time period, reforms continued to take place. The 2009 law established the new system of doctoral
education, leading to the degree of either Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Science.