Fikret Rzayev: "Teaching becoming increasingly relevant and prestigious in Azerbaijan"

Fikret Rzayev: "Teaching becoming increasingly relevant and prestigious in Azerbaijan"

The vice-rector of Azerbaijan State Pedagogical University, Fikret Rzayev told Vestnik Kavkaza about education system reforms, the growing prestige of teaching and work with students in modern Azerbaijan.

- First of all, Fikret muallim, do you plan to vote in Azerbaijan's tomorrow election?

- Of course. I like that the voice of a citizen is indeed decisive in democratic countries. I wish such a position, characteristic of European countries, to spread throughout the post-Soviet space. Of course, I will cast a vote, it's my civic duty and I will definitely fulfill it.

- What attention is paid to the development of educational institutions in Azerbaijan, are any positive trends visible?

- In recent years, a number of very important decisions have been adopted in the issue of educational development, which is being addressed on two fronts. First of all, this is the establishment and upgrading of schools. The obligatory attendance of pre-school for children was introduced. Schools of modular type are being actively built, due to which about 80% of Azerbaijani schools are either completely renovated, modernized, or rebuilt. Our schools were computerized, they have electronic boards and other up-to-date teaching aids.

The second direction includes the creation of new textbooks and promotion of training for teachers. Perhaps for the first time in the history of our school, a diagnostic assessment of teachers' knowledge was introduced. This greatly stimulates teachers to raise their own level of teaching. If they fail the exam, training is conducted for them, which significantly changes the system. Another innovation is the recruitment of teachers, which is carried out by the Ministry of Education. The first stage is tests, the second stage -interviews. Every person who passed the exams is interviewed by at least four people, including an experienced school worker, often a school principal, a psychologist, a professional teacher of the same specialty and a ministry representative. All this gives the opportunity to talk about the serious changes in the education system, the results of which can be seen in 10-15 years.

- What is the role of raising the prestige of teaching in the education system reforms?

- When Mikayil Jabbarov was appointed minister of education, he introduced a lot of innovations with his team, among other things they wanted to raise the prestige of the teaching. A decision was made immediately: 300 scholarships of 100 manat per month are awarded for those who chose the first and second pedagogical specialties (teacher of mathematics, languages, geography) and scored more than 500 points. At the same time, they have a certainty that if good prepared, they will find a job in school and will teach children. If we go back to diagnosing teachers' knowledge, it allows us to regulate wages in a completely different way, we have teachers who, thanks to their high level of qualification, earn 1000 manat per month or even more. Thus, young people who are graduating in the regions have a significant incentive to become teachers, they see that teaching is becoming increasingly relevant and prestigious.

- What is the flow rate of students learning Russian language in Azerbaijan?

- The electronic application system for enrollment in the 1st grade in Baku has indicated that the influx of those wishing to study in the Russian sector has increased in recent years. Every year the leadership of the Baku City Department of Education addresses us with a request to send all graduates of the Russian primary education sector to them, who are taken to work in schools after graduation already in September. Of course, this also raises the prestige of teaching. And if our children see that the demand for teachers, and their salaries, increases, they are more willing to enter our Azerbaijan State Pedagogical University.

- What role does the Azerbaijan State Pedagogical University play in these reforms?

- The ASPU is contracted by the state to provide all the teaching specialties that exist in secondary education. I have always stressed that in the first place it is necessary to reform pedagogical universities that provide training for secondary schools workers. Since I talked about this a lot, I was appointed vice-rector of our university, then we had a new rector, Jafar Jafarov, after which the changes have begun. We train teachers, and we must prepare in accordance with current trends existing in world education. In Azerbaijan, they often say that a person of any profession had a teacher once, which means that the teaching profession should be treated in a very special way.

Naturally, we plan our work taking into account the republic's need for personnel in certain fields. For example, the BSU has a very large philological faculty, it has "Russian language and literature" specialty, which enrollment rate exceeds 100 people in recent years, there is Baku Slavic University, and Russian language and literature is one of its leading specialties, it is also taught at the Azerbaijan University of Languages. In this regard, we do not have Russian language and literature  specialty, because this need is met by other universities. At the same time, we have faculties and specialties for the Russian sector of education - the faculty of initial training and the united faculty of chemistry and biology, as well as the department of foreign languages, where the Russian language occupies a leading position.

- What extracurricular activities for youth does the university offer?

- Youth work is one of the most important spheres of my activity as a pro-rector at the Pedagogical University. When I first came to the university, no one knew about its youth student organization, and last year it was awarded the diploma of the Ministry of Youth and Sports as the best student organization in the republic. Working with students, I practice the do-no-harm approach - they should not be forced to do anything against their will, you can only help them in their positive endeavors. I always listened to all the student initiatives and tried to help with their implementation, for example, we organized the Intellectual Games Club, we have a debate movement, drama groups. I also try to get as many republican events held in our university as possible, that is, we have a very active student life.

Of course, I always said that our two primary tasks are the professional training of students in the area they chose and the formation of citizens with an active life position.