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Старый 17.05.2007, 13:14   #1
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An oil windfall for Azerbaijan's schools

Armed with $230 billion in oil revenues, policymakers hope better education will reverse Azerbaijan's corrupt history.

By Daria Vaisman | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Baku, Azerbaijan - Though still plagued by poverty and graft, this former Soviet Caspian nation now boasts the world's fastest-growing economy, thanks to the new Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline that may generate $230 billion over the next 20 years.

Now, says Azerbaijan, it wants to use some of that windfall to modernize the country, which still lacks consistent water and electricity supplies in many areas. Policymakers say education will be one key focus of the reforms.

With advice from international organizations on how to mitigate some common pitfalls of fast oil wealth – often called the "resource curse" – Azerbaijan has taken steps toward reform. But some critics are skeptical about how far-reaching the changes will be, given the country's corruption problems and its mismanaged educational system.

"We want to ensure the best of human capital in the country," says Mehman Abbas, head of Azerbaijan economic ministry's development program. Azerbaijan, says Mr. Abbas, hopes to emulate other nations that are opening to the world. "We know best practices from other countries, but we're trying to adjust them to our situation," he says.

Among some of the current projects:

• A scholarship program to train 5,000 Azeri students abroad.

• A new academy to groom diplomats for Azerbaijan's growing network of embassies, which have doubled in number since 2004

• Plans to build new schools, with some 130 constructed in the last three years.

• An initiative to install one computer for every three students nationwide.

The scholarship fund, Azerbaijan's most ambitious educational reform for which a proposal was signed by the president last month, will be available to students once they graduate from secondary school. Students at the bachelor's, master's, and PhD level will be sent to study abroad over the next seven years, with the caveat that they return to work in Azerbaijan.

"The main objective of the program is providing the economy with a highly skilled labor force that [has] a significant role in the non-oil sector," Abbas says. The program, he says, was designed after consultations from the UN Development Program as one of the best uses for oil revenues.

Balancing education with loyalty

But despite what would appear to be a push for educational reform, some critics point out that Azerbaijan's investment in education presents something of a paradox. In heavily autocratic former Soviet countries such as Turkmenistan, presidents typically held onto power by denying anything but the most rudimentary education, thereby cultivating an unquestioning public.

For soft autocracies like Azerbaijan, the challenge will be to modernize the country without losing its grip on power.

Azerbaijan may already have one instructive model in China.

"China is a controlled country but is sending people all over the world and investing abroad, says Karin Lissakers, director of the Revenue Watch Institute, a program that advises governments in resource-revenue management. "I think some [leaders] in the region look at the Chinese model and think, that's the way to go – maintain political control and still modernize the economy."

Globalizing Azeri classrooms

Others say that Azerbaijan's leadership knows that a failure to educate its workforce will not only alienate its citizens, but will leave the country in the dust in an increasingly globalizing economy.

"Azerbaijan's market economy is not getting what it needs from education," says Fariz Ismailzade, the new diplomatic academy's director of training. "People aren't equipped to apply for a job. They don't even know how to write a CV."

After 32 embassies opened worldwide over the past two years – more than doubling the country's 2004 tally of 24 embassies – Azerbaijan now faces a shortage of diplomats.

To deal with the growing demand, President Ilham Aliyev tapped Azerbaijan's longtime ambassador to the US, Hafiz Pashayev, to run the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy, the country's first training center for diplomats.

The program, which began in March with the academy's first 30 recruits, brought professors from Georgetown University and the Virginia-based George C. Marshall Foundation, an educational organization, to lead training on modern-day diplomatic skills.

But the school, Mr. Pashayev says, has even bigger aims. By 2008, it will offer Azerbaijan's first professional master's program at international standards, complete with an English-language and electronic library, and an online system for grades and registration.

The government has said the school will serve as a pilot for future institutes and has also suggested following Qatar's example of a "university city," where five US universities, including Georgetown, have opened satellite campuses.

"I want to create something special in education, to be able to show others that they should follow this example," says Pashayev.

But a more imminent fear may be pushing Azerbaijan's education reform – the largely secular country's concern over growing Islamism, particularly from neighboring Iran, which has been exporting a stringent form of Islam and building mosques in some of the poorest regions.

"We have to spread money as quickly as possible to prevent the danger of Islamic fundamentalism coming to Azerbaijan," says Pashayev. "In my view, education is the only way."


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Старый 17.05.2007, 20:58   #2
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хорошая статья..
Таких как Cайгон и Ямайка всегда пропускать надо вперёд (а вдруг шахта лифта пустая)

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Старый 19.05.2007, 01:50   #3
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Prosecutor скоро придёт к известности
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Отличная статья. Уверен, что вопросы образования теперь будут решаться на самом высоком уровне. И рад, что Фариз теперь работает в Дипакадемии - очень деятельный и образованный парень.
...у нас очень многое во внешней политике в последние годы с подачи В.В. Путина строилось по принципу русской народной пословицы, боятся – значит, уважают. ... Нет, дело в том, что эта пословица – это не есть русская народная мудрость, это есть русский народный идиотизм, потому что боятся – это не значит уважают, боятся – значит, боятся. Боятся – значит, ненавидят, боятся – значит, избегают.
А. Троицкий

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Старый 12.07.2007, 11:21   #4
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Azerbaijan creats diplomatic academy

By Daria Vaisman Published: July 11, 2007

BAKU, Azerbaijan: As this small Caspian nation prepares for an oil windfall expected to top $230 billion over the next 20 years, it has set its sights - and its budget - on self-promotion.

The campaign is linked to a newly completed pipeline stretching from Baku to Turkey that will pump wealth into Azerbaijan.

Hoping to drum up business for its nonoil sector, and to improve its image, Azerbaijan has more than doubled its diplomatic presence abroad since 2004, opening 32 new embassies in the last three years in capitals from Athens to Tokyo.

But now the country faces another problem: not enough diplomats to staff the missions.

Which is why, after 13 years as Azerbaijan's ambassador to the United States, Hafiz Pashayev has found himself with an unexpected second career: running the country's first academy for aspiring diplomats.

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"To spread our image in the world, we need a real presence," he said. "But we have a shortage of diplomats."

The state-run Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy opened in March with the goal of training its recruits in a Western-style diplomacy new to this country. The idea is to quickly staff Azerbaijan's empty embassies, fast-tracking aspiring diplomats who would normally work their way up as Foreign Ministry staffers.

Georgetown University and the Germany-based George Marshall European Center for Security Studies have already sent professors and a former U.S. ambassador, William Hill, a diplomat with broad experience in the region, to lead training sessions on topics ranging from negotiation skills to terrorism.

Most of the academy's first 30 students are in their mid-twenties - amiable, well-educated and fluent in English. Almost all are employees of the Foreign Ministry, where the academy is temporarily housed while its American-designed campus is being built.

"There is no analogue in our country," said Fuad Babayev, 21, who is studying at the academy while working as an intern in the Foreign Ministry's consular section. "We have an aviation academy, a police academy, but this is a first for diplomacy."

Diplomacy has always been a prestigious career in Azerbaijan, but jobs were often handed out on the basis of connections, not capability.

Now the country has introduced a foreign-service entrance test that is turning the system into a meritocracy. Of the 700 applicants who took the test last year, only eight passed; they were the only people to enter the foreign service in 2006.

In a post-Soviet region where students often pay to obtain good grades and buy diplomas, the academy is part of what some see as a first step in modernizing an educational system long mired in nepotism and corruption.

Several ambitious programs have started this past year, including a mission to build hundreds of new schools in low-income areas and to equip classrooms with one computer for every three Azeri students.

Another program will send 5,000 university and graduate students abroad over the next seven years, under the condition - enforced by limited-term visas - that they return to work in Azerbaijan.

Pashayev says the government is watching the diplomatic academy with interest as a pilot model for future academies in other fields.

With this in mind, the academy plans to introduce a two-track curriculum, supplementing the diplomatic program with a master's program in international affairs designed to attract talented Azeris and students from nearby countries like Turkey and Russia.

Ulviyya Fakhraddin, the academy's new communications director and a former aide to a British parliamentarian, Ann McKechin of Glasgow, is optimistic about the academy's ability to attract the region's best students.

"I think the academy's recruits are the kind of people who would study at Oxford or Cambridge, with the same success," she said.

An international board of trustees will spearhead fundraising while giving the academy some room to maneuver outside of government control. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former U.S. national security adviser, is a likely candidate for the board, as are prominent figures from Europe, South Korea and Japan, according to Pashayev.

"Our advantage is that we don't have old baggage," said Pashayev. "We're a new academy."

Andrew Hess, a professor of diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts University near Boston and a former oil executive, has been discussing setting up a joint program between Fletcher and the academy.

"Azerbaijan realized that if you want to develop in the modern world," he said, "you need to start with the educational system and work from there."


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