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Spotlight Article

Building Relations through Education

Azerbaijan America Alliance
July 21, 2014

Building Relations through Education

            “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin

Education has been a defining factor of America’s national development since its inception. The idea that, through hard work and academic development, anyone can achieve a more fulfilling and prosperous future is entwined with the American dream, but also a value many other nations share.

Azerbaijan has become an embodiment of these values – focusing on developing all levels of its educational system so as to prepare its children for the challenges of a globalized world.

Currently, there are approximately 36 state-run and fifteen private universities in Azerbaijan. According to the Ministry of Education, over 300 fields of study are offered to obtain a bachelor’s degree.  According to UNICEF, the literacy rate for both males and females between the ages of 15 and 24 is almost 100%, ranking Azerbaijan in the top 10% of the countries worldwide. Tertiary education in Azerbaijan has made tremendous strides since it declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

Azerbaijan seeks further improvement by developing educational partnerships outside of its own borders. Given the U.S.’s position as the most respected provider of higher education in the world, there is ample opportunity to strengthen educational ties, to the benefit of both Azerbaijanis and Americans.

For this reason, the Azerbaijan America Alliance is working to develop cross-border educational ties with the intention of building lasting relationships between Azerbaijani and American institutions.

At its Annual Gala Dinner in 2012, the Alliance awarded scholarships to five students – four Azerbaijanis and one American – who were pursuing bachelor’s degrees in the United States. Each of these students has exhibited a combination of exemplary academic achievement and a desire to give back to their respective countries. In the coming weeks, the Alliance website will feature articles from some of them, outlining their personal experiences over the past two years, the importance of Azerbaijani-American educational ties, and their own aspirations

More recently, the Chairman of the Azerbaijan America Alliance, Mr. Anar Mammadov, has established the Heydar Aliyev Scholarship at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  As of June 18, 2014, over 80 Azerbaijani candidates have expressed interest in applying for the scholarship in what is set to be a seminal moment in the development of Azerbaijani-American educational ties.*

The Azerbaijan government has gone to great lengths to improve its education system. The recently established Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy has seen great success with over one-third of its students coming from foreign countries. In addition, the Azerbaijan government awards over 5,000 scholarships a year – at an estimated value of $27 million – for those students interested in studying abroad.

These programs, as well as those undertaken by the Azerbaijan America Alliance, are designed to give young Azerbaijanis and Americans the opportunity to study at prestigious schools in each others’ countries. In return, we hope they will serve as ambassadors for this strategically important relationship and make valuable contributions to their countries, and the international community as a whole.

There is perhaps no greater investment in the futures of both Azerbaijan and the United States.

 

*To apply for the Heydar Aliyev Scholarship, see link: http://uploads.gocdn.us/24_1183_Press%20Release%207.11.2014.pdf 

 

 

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