On the 25th of October 2013 Azernews reported that the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, introduced an education development strategy to create an economically stable education system with infrastructure based on up-to-date technologies and qualified teachers. A cabinet of Ministers have been given five months to submit a plan of action and development goals are to be reviewed annually.
Since Azerbaijan achieved independence from Russia the topic of adopting a new education structure has been put on the agenda of the Parliament each year, but to no avail. The low level of public spending on education has resulted in decreased faculty salaries, which in turn resulted in a system rife with corruption and inequality affecting all levels of society from elementary schools to universities. The level of education given at secondary schools does not adequately prepare students for university entrance exams and some teachers intentionally withhold information that will be on the exams in order to set the students back. 21 years after independence from Russia, secular Azerbaijan is therefore still in the process of defining appropriate educational standards and curriculums – a sad reality mirrored within other countries in the region that have also adopted the secular political system and who share the same corruption, inefficiencies, and poor state education structures. In 2010, the Telegraph reported that according to Indem, a Moscow-based think tank, paying for good school exam results, for entrance into university, and to pass university courses is a multimillion dollar industry in Russia.
The secular Azerbaijan leadership has failed to meet the basic educational needs of its people due to its adoption of the liberal secular approach to policy making. This is collaborated by the fact that secular nations such as the US and UK with long standing educational infrastructures that have had plenty of time to refine their systems are also failing their students. A report released in April 2013 reveals that 1 In 4 Americans are completing high school late and that students lag far behind other countries. Chester Finn, a former senior US Education Department official stated that “…despite all of the reforming, the gains are so modest, they ought to serve to energize and even panic today’s policymakers” President Ilham’s new strategies are therefore doomed to failure, just like those of years past for they are neither sincere nor sound. This is because they are partial cosmetic changes implemented under a man-made system that is inherently flawed and that has been demonstrated the world-over to have failed nations.
A brighter future for education in Azerbaijan can only be secured by the return to the Islamic education system under the Khilafah. Under this state, the Muslim lands led the world in innovation and learning with international dignitaries sending their youth to be educated in our world class universities and institutions. This was due to the complete application of the Islamic ideology that truly values education, views it as a basic right of every citizen – male and female, has a sound economic system to fund it adequately, and encourages individuals to excel in every field of life for the good of humanity, including in academia, technology, medicine, and science. This first-class education system will return once again upon the rebirth of this state in the region. The draft constitution of Hizb ut Tahrir for the Khilafah states: “It is an obligation upon the State to teach every individual, male or female, those things which are necessary for life. This should be provided freely to all and should be done in the primary and secondary levels of education. The State should, to the best of its ability, provide the opportunity for everyone to continue higher education free of charge.” It is therefore, only with a return to this tried, tested, and successful political model as defined by Islam that Azerbaijan’s education crisis can be resolved.
Written for the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir by