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“Why should I pay for a missed semester?” and other questions to the Azerbaijani education system

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Due to quarantine measures taken in Azerbaijan to combat the pandemic, not only the economy has suffered – studies have come to a screeching halt as well.

Since then both school pupils and university students have faced a slew of issues.

Since then, school pupils, university students and teachers have faced a slew of issues.

Lost semester

Pupils in Azerbaijan lost the last three months of the school year due to coronavirus and quarantine, university students – almost the entire second semester.

While schools have organized online classes to an extent, universities have totally dropped the ball, and students have simply been sent lectures and assignments. Online lectures were left to the discretion of teachers.

On the one hand, the absence of classes for such a good reason as a pandemic made many happy. But then many questions arose, which the representatives of the Ministry of Education tried to thoroughly answer only on May 7 at a special press conference.

First of all, it became known that this year physical studies will not resume in schools even after the end of quarantine.

How do we move on to the next class / next course?

Schoolchildren will be transferred to the next class, taking into account the grades of the first half of the year.

To go from the ninth to the tenth grade, you need to pass two rounds of final exams – nothing will change here. The first round of tests were held before quarantine, and the second, apparently, will be held in June.

Students will take exams as always, but if they want, they will be able to take exams in August and September as well.

How to get into school / university?

Admission to school in any case occurs through online registration.

To enter the university, you need to submit documents online from May 12 to June 5, and exams will be held after July 20. To avoid large crowds of people in exams, more schools will be involved in this process than usual, and there will be no more than 15 students in one hall, said Khanlar Khanlarzadeh, speaker of the state examination center.

Many other questions remain unclear. Students who pay tuition (and the state in Azerbaijan pays for tuition for about half of the students of each state university) will not pay for the autumn exams, but nothing is said about whether payment is required for the second half of the 2019/2020 school year.

“Why should I pay for an incomplete semester?”

“So far, I only assume that I may not be allowed to take the exam because I did not pay tuition fees. But why should I pay for a semester, during which I did not go to classes, and online lessons were conducted only sometimes?” says Dadash, a student at the Azerbaijan Technical University.

The position of undergraduates is also unclear. For example, they were ordered to hand in their theses by May 15, but it is unclear how they will conduct the exams and consultations that accompany it.

“We were told to prepare our theses and submit them by May 15th. But for sure this will extend until the end of the month. Because until classes are held, and with most teachers there is no connection, one cannot expect that work could be ready by this date”, says one of the graduate students of Baku State University.

Weak Internet and schoolchildren “skipping” lessons

In secondary schools, the process is better – there is a special portal and even lessons on central television. But by no means have all the teachers coped with the electronic portal “Virtual School”, proposed by the Ministry of Education.

According to Samira Ismayilova, an elementary school teacher in Baku school No. 24, it can be said that only 40 percent of teachers were able to fully engage in online lessons. The rest either do not know how, or do not want to give themselves unnecessary trouble.

“The electronic program provided to us has class schedules, assignments, tests, and so on, designed for all students,” Samira explains.

This is an example of online lessons:

But the teacher says that not all children can participate:

“I have students who, before quarantine, left the city, in the districts, and now they can’t participate in online classes because in the regions there are serious problems with the Internet, and parents do not have enough money for mobile Internet. The ministry says these students do not have to attend classes.”

Vagif Abbasov, a history teacher at a Baku school, says many educators complain that the Virtual School is not working well, for example, not everyone receives an access password after registration.

And when teachers offer to use a different – generally accessible – platform, the school management is worried about the reporting that the Ministry of Education should receive through the state platform.

At least five gigabytes of Internet traffic were provided to teachers for free, and students use their own during classes, and for many this is also a problem.

Is there any other way out?

How could a pandemic and training be combined differently? It seems that this has not even been discussed in Azerbaijan.

Bahruz Gasimov, the father of a student at a Baku university, believes that it would be more appropriate to cancel the second semester altogether:

“In my opinion, this semester should be canceled. No tuition fees, no exams. Imagine that these six months just didn’t exist, and the kids will study for five to six months longer. In my opinion, that would be fairer.”

Vagif Abbasov, teacher:

“To prolong the school year would be problematic – for example, it is not clear what to do with the draft in the army. In principle, it would be possible to combine the missed classes with the program for the next semester. On the other hand, to the extent possible, the students were somehow helped to learn the material, and at the same time to abandon the assessment for the missed months seems to be a logical decision.

The post “Why should I pay for a missed semester?” and other questions to the Azerbaijani education system appeared first on English Jamnews.

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Republic Day celebration in Azerbaijan: this year, no one was detained

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Azerbaijan is celebrating the 102nd anniversary of the first Azerbaijani republic (the ADR). This year, due to quarantine and a ban on public events, this day will be just like any other day – even without the “traditional” clashes between the police and the opposition.

Two years of independence

The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) declared its independence on May 28, 1918 against the backdrop of the collapse of the Russian Empire and nearing the end of the First World War. ADR is considered the first democratic republic in the Muslim East.

Like other newly formed republics of the South Caucasus, the ADR lasted two years before the Bolsheviks seized power in the country and throughout the region in 1920. After that, Azerbaijan became part of the USSR.

The next time Azerbaijan gained independence was in 1991, declaring the new country the successor of the ADR. Since then, May 28 has become a public holiday, known as Republic Day.

Mixed feelings about the holiday

Society’s attitude towards Republic Day in modern Azerbaijan is somewhat mixed.

On the one hand, this is actually the only political holiday that remains popular among the general population, including youth.

On the other hand, the opposition, and many non-partisan citizens use the holiday to express their dissatisfaction with the fact that Baku still does not have a monument to Mamed-Emin Rasulzade, an ideologist and one of the leaders of the ADR. In general, the opposition believes that the current authorities are “jealous” of the ADR and therefore do not show due respect for this holiday.

Moreover, this is another reason to remember that it is difficult to call modern Azerbaijan “democratic” – the country has formed an image for itself on the international stage as an authoritarian state where human rights are regularly violated.

The authorities, in turn, are quite restrained about Republic Day. The country’s highest officials congratulate the citizens and lay flowers at the ADR obelisk, and in the evenings there is usually a gala concert and a salute on the seaside boulevard. But in the previous two years, the opposition, under various pretexts, was not allowed to hold their celebratory march, and the holiday ended with the detainment of several people

Authorities in the city center, opposition in the suburbs

This year, President Ilham Aliyev also visited the obelisk in central Baku, and the first lady and first vice president Mehriban Aliyeva wrote a Facebook post in celebration of the holiday.

Citizens carry flowers to
the ADR obelisk in the
center of Baku (JAMnews)

There will be no fireworks or concert due to quarantine. There were also fewer flowers and wreaths in front of the obelisk than usual.

Members of the opposition coalition the National Council of Democratic Forces and the Musavat party (separately) went to the village of Novkhany near Baku, where Mammad-Emin Rasulzade was born, where the only existing monument of him stands. The police did not put up any barriers, but walked around the area around and demanded people keep a distance. In general, everything went peacefully.

Novkhany Village. The children of Musavat party members are holding a portrait of Mamed-Emin Rasulzade (Facebook)

The post Republic Day celebration in Azerbaijan: this year, no one was detained appeared first on English Jamnews.

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What Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia did 102 years ago when they became independent republics

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Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia marked 102 years since the day of the creation of their states with a democratic structure – that is, independent republics.

The word ‘republic’ comes from the latin word res publica, meaning ‘public issue’. Republic is a form of government with three components:

1. The composition of state departments are either elected for a defined period of time or are formed by national representatives institutions. This role is generally carried out by parliament.

2. An elected head of state who can not pass down their authority by inheritance or in any other way other than elections in which the entire eligible population of the country is included.

3. All citizens of the republic have the same personal and political rights.

In April 1918, the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic was declared, but soon it dissolved into three separate states.

On 26 May 1918, the Georgian Democratic Republic was declared.

On 28 May 1918, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and the Republic of Armenia were also declared.

Below are two sections about the achievements of these three states over the past one hundred years, and why they fell apart.

1.

The political context of the time

The beginning of the 20th century was a tragic period for the Caucasus in a number of ways.

By this time, all three countries had been part of the Russian Empire. World War I was taking place, of which a part occurred on the Turkish front.

In 1915 there was the massacre and exile of the Armenian population. Various data sources suggest that about 1.5 million Armenians died. In agreement with Armenia, international organisations and many countries are saying that these events constituted a genocide.

Two revolutions took place in Russia one right after the other. As a result, from 1917 to 1921 the Bolsheviks definitively seized power and the establishment of the communist regime began.

2.

The main achievements of the three independent republics over the 102 years since the day of their creation

Azerbaijan

The Independent Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was created on 28 May 1918 in Tbilisi. This took place two days after Georgia declared its withdrawal from the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic.

The federation was administered by the ‘Transcaucasian Sejm’. Its ‘Muslim faction’ practically became the first Azerbaijani parliament.

It was called the national council, with Mammad Amin Rasulzadeh, the head of the ‘Musavat’ (Equality) party as its leader. The chairman of the government of the first Independent Azerbaijani republic was Fatali Khan Khoyski.

The republic lasted some 23 months, until 28 April 1920. Then Baku was taken by the 11th Red Army.

A military parade in honor of the first anniversary of the Azerbaijan Republic. Photo from the National Archive of Azerbaijan.

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The four main achievements of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic

1. The creation of the first parliamentary republic in the Muslim East. There were 11 parties and factions in the first parliament.

2. In the decision to create the parliament, there was much discussion about how all of the nations that inhabit Azerbaijan should have a representative. There were two Armenian factions within the parliament.

3. Women in the Islamic world first received the right to vote in Baku. The decision was made in November 1918 simultaneously with Britain, and Azerbaijan gave parity to women on this issue before a majority of European and American countries.

4. The first state university was founded on 1 September 1919 – it had four faculties at first: history, physics-maths, law and medicine.

The first dean of the university was the well-known surgeon Vasili Razumovski. Lev Landau, a theoretical physicist who would later claim a Nobel prize, studied at this university.

Armenia

The emblem and flag of the first Republic of Armenia. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Ethnography of Armenians and the History of the War for Liberation.

The first republic of Armenia was very important for the nation which had been deprived of statehood for centuries.

The achievements of the short-lived Republic of Armenia, just 2.5 years from May 1918 to December 1920, can be summarised as thus:

1. A state body was formed, a parliament elected, an army and internal state departments were also made.

2. Over this period, there were four cabinets of ministers and, accordingly, four prime ministers: Hovhannes Kajaznuni, Aleksandr Khatisyan, Hamo Ohanjanyan and Simon Vratsyan.

3. Diplomatic relations were established and embassies were opened in dozens of countries across the world, from the USA to the far east and the countries of Asia.

4. In August 1918, an official currency, the Armenian rouble, was put into circulation.

A bill from the first Republic of Armenia. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Ethnography of Armenians and the History of the War of Liberation.

Georgia

Influential Georgian political and intellectual groups did not acknowledge Soviet power which was established in Russia after the revolution of 1917.

On 19 November 1917 the first national convention took place in Tbilisi where the National Council of Georgia was elected – the government.

About half a year later, on 26 May 1918, an Act of Independence was implemented, and thus the Democratic Republic of Georgia was formed.

The Constituent Assembly announces the creation of the first Democratic Republic of Georgia. Photo from the archives of the National Library of Georgia.

Its main highlights:

1. The first democratic elections took place in Georgia on 14 February 1919. Thus the Constituent Assembly of Georgia was found, similar to that of a modern parliament. Fifteen parties took place in the elections, with six of them making it into the assembly. The first ruling party of Georgia was the Social Democratic Party.

2. The Constituent Assembly of Georgia passed the country’s first constitution. This took place on 21 February 1921. The constitution guaranteed the rights of women, religious and ethnic minorities. The death penalty was abolished.

But the first constitution lasted but four days. The Constituent Assembly of Georgia had announced its publication not with national celebrations but under threat from cannonade. The Red Army had already entered Georgian territory. On 25 February 1918, Georgia was annexed.

3. The first international relations were established with Europe after many, centuries-long unsuccessful attempts to make contact with the outside world and get around Russia. The future PM of the UK first came to independent Georgia as well as the acting minister of justice of Belgium. Germany announced itself an ally.

4. In politics, women began playing an active role in Georgia. There were five women among the 130 members of the Constituent Assembly: Minadora Orjonikidze-Toroshelidze, Eleonora Ter-Parsegova-Makhviladze, Kristina Sharashidze, Elisabel-Liza Nakashidze-Bolkvadze, Anna Sologashvili. Their signatures are on the first constitution of Georgia.

5. A court system including a supreme court was set up, in addition to a jury system.

6. Basic education became mandatory, school infrastructure began to develop.

7. Agrarian programmes were instituted as a result of which the majority of land went into the hands of the state, but the citizens were guaranteed an allotment.

3

Reasons behind the collapse of the first three independent republics

Two opinions from Azerbaijan, JAMnews exclusive.

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Political scientist Togrul Veliyev:

“After 1917, the people were interested in two issues: work and land. But Russia was interested in Baku’s oil.

“Had the government of the republic conducted agrarian reforms and passed a labour law and agreed to export oil to Russia, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic might have continued its existence.

“It would have been socialist, with a slightly religious lean.

“It was the UK that forbade the government to export oil to Russia. And that’s why the 11th Red Army came marching in to Baku in 1920 – oil. If Azerbaijan had exported it, Russia would not have needed to take control of the city. There was some export in 1920, but the process had already begun and it was too late.”

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JAMnews journalist Shahin Rzayev

“We do not want to divide the world into small pieces,” is what the president of the US said during a meeting with an Azerbaijani delegation at the Paris Peace Conference where the victor-countries were deciding the fate of Europe after the end of the first World War. He continued:

“ ‘The issue of recognizing the independence of the Caucasian Republics may be looked at after the resolution of the ‘Russia issue’.

“The ‘great states’ believed that there are people who are ready for independence, such as Poland and Finland, and people, such as in Georgia and Azerbaijan, that were not so ready.

“Without international support, small Azerbaijan ended up face to face with Russia. The outcome of the confrontation was predetermined – it wouldn’t have mattered who was ruling Russia at the time.

“In addition, our Turkish brothers made a deal with Bolshevik Russia and they divided the Caucasus into spheres of influence.

“Turkey returned Batumi to Russia, which it had received in the Brest Peace Agreement, but it retained Kars. The only thing that Azerbaijan got from this agreement was autonomy of Nakhchivan ‘under the protectorate of Azerbaijan’.

“But when the Red Army took Baku, Tbilisi and Yerevan one right after the other, Turkey didn’t even bother to interfere.”

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Historian and leader of the Modern History of Armenia Research Centre, Mikle A. Babayan:

“The Republic of Armenia was destroyed because of the Kemalist-Bolshevik strikes against it, that is in consequence of their active external actions.

“Kemal’s Turkey and the Bolsheviks had their plans and agreed to act against Armenia. The military activities began almost simultaneously, the Bolsheviks entered Armenian territory at the end of November 1918. And before that they had already entered Zangezur, Karabakh and Nakchivan.

“In these conditions, an additional strike was the Armenian-Turkish war which began in the autumn of 1920. Armenia did not have the strength to fight on two fronts.

“Had it not been for Sovietisation, independent Armenia would have gone a different path. The republic’s government had already set goals for several years in advance. It had perspectives and possibilities and could have provided for consistent development.”

German soldiers film Tbilisi, circa 1918. Photo: WikiCommon.

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Historian and employee of the Georgian Research Lab on the Soviet Past, Irakli Khvadagiani:

“The first World War did not only stimulate the creation of the first Georgian republic, but it also, to a certain extent, was the reason for its collapse. The first world war changed the entire world order. The international community restored itself after the war and few were interested in the fate of the Caucasus. Georgia, unfortunately, was unlucky in this way: it was not in the spheres of interest of any large power, be it Britain or France. They didn’t see the Caucasus or Georgia as part of their sphere of influence.”

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The post What Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia did 102 years ago when they became independent republics appeared first on English Jamnews.

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Coronavirus in the Caucasus. In Georgia, 76% of the patients recovered. Crisis in Armenia

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