Saturday, December 19

"Some countries change mindsets of our students"

This quote title of the post is dedicated to Azerbaijan's Minister of Education- Misir Mardanov- who believes that when choosing a country for studying abroad, one must be careful, because some of these countries, change mindsets of Azerbaijani students.

"We insist to send our students to Germany, China, Singapore because we know that these countries wont influence our kids' thinking based on these countries' political orientation". Of course, the most interesting part of this statement is that the Minister never pins down to any of such "brainwashing" countries.

In this case, what seems to be worrying Mr. Mardanov is not only where Azerbaijani students choose to go but also what they learn. Well, perhaps someone should wake Mr. Mardanov up, and explain him that maybe if education system in Azerbaijan was better (which means minister and his team putting more effort into existing system- and that doesn't just end with installing computers to high schools where there is no electricity anyway!) there would be less demand to go abroad?

Yes, Mr. Minister, educational reform is not just about computers! Its about schools in villages where there is electricity and heating. Its about teachers wanting to come to school everyday and teach something new, instead of thinking about how much money they should demand off their students. Its about students enjoying school not because they can buy their way through it but because they can learn and explore boundaries of their knowledge. Its basically about everything that Azerbaijani students look for as they search for schools abroad.

And you can sleep well at night Mr. Minister, because even if an Azerbaijani student who chooses to go to China, Singapore or Germany, he/she will still return with extended knowledge on philosophy, literature, math, chemistry and other fields not because these countries brainwash these students, but because what You might be calling "brainwashing" and "influencing" is in fact simply called learning, teaching and exploring...


Anonymous said...


I'm not defending Misir Mardanov but I think he may have a point there. He explicitly excludes countries like Germany, France, England - these are secular and advanced nations in which people can learn whatever they want.
But he does not mention nations like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan. Of course one can go and learn in those nations whatever they want but I guess you would agree with me that one can also bring into Azerbaijan religious radicalism from Saudi Arabia or Egypt if they learn there not chemistry but Sharia or fiqh or whatever Islam teaches.
I guess this is what he means - probability of religious radicalization of Azerbaijani students in some Islamic nations outweighs purpose of sending our future mollas there for religious education. But he is not like ordinary citizen, right? He must talk indirectly and ambiguously because he is minister and his words can be used against him in international-educational activities. I guess it is raw diplomatics.
Anyhow... Good luck.

A Peasant from Baku

Arzu Geybulla said...

Of course I understand that you are not defending Mr. Mardanov and thank you for your comment.

And point taken on the education in S.Arabia and elsewhere.

However, he only points out to Germany as a country where Azerbaijan should allow its students to go (perhaps he meant the others- the ones you include- as well but he never mentions England or France. In fact, he says China and Singapore.

If the Ministry of Education is concerned about students who leave for S. Arabia then perhaps they should tackle that problem and ban their departures for these countries as well instead?
Because it is no news that already there are many students who return from their studies in these countries to Azerbaijan or do i have wrong impressions about it?

I wont agree with you necessarily on what you say about "I guess this is what he means- probability of religious radicalization of Azerbaijan students in some Islamic nations..." because again, if the minister can say "some countries change mindsets of our students" then i am pretty sure that he could say exactly what he implies by this rather than leaving the rest for the readers to decide.


Onnik Krikorian said...

I think reference to "political orientation" as well as the exclusion of many Western countries says it all. Meanwhile, it would be nice if he could compile a list of those countries he doesn't like so we can make sure enough students from all the South Caucasus countries make it a priority to study there... :)

Anonymous said...


Thanks for response. I appreciate your thoughts. My previous comment is based on what I read on-line and not from everyday reality of Azerbaijan (Azerbaycanda yashamiram ve uzun muddetdir orda olmamisham). So,perhaps there is political connotation of his talk, which addresses implicitly some internal educational-political activities of the foreign-educated students in the nation, under guise of general talk-against-religious-radicals look.
This is how I perceived it.

Keep writing. I enjoy it...

A peasant from Baku

Anonymous said...

Arzu, first Ali Hasanov, then Ali Ahmedov, now Minister Mardanov. Your list of enemies is getting bigger! They should be careful. Do you think they are creating bad policies, or just defending the ones given to them? I mean, are they your real enemeies or is it true these crazy ideas come from the President. Maybe the president is just too dangerous as a subject of criticism?

Arzu Geybulla said...

Hi Anonymous,

Well, I think we should make things clear. Who said these people were/are my enemies let alone enemies in a general sense?

They are political figures each responsible for their respective jobs.

It would be a simplified conclusion to call them enemies anyway. I believe these people are professionals who know well their responsibilities.

The reality however is that perhaps what they consider as right approach is a matter for disagreement among other levels of the community who believe that these people fail to see the reality.

As to your questions, here are my answers:

Do you think they are creating bad policies, or just defending the ones given to them?
- i think what they create are all most probably good policies but they are not looked at fully and are not analyzed well;

I mean, are they your real enemeies or is it true these crazy ideas come from the President?

- They are not my enemies. I believe our President is a very smart and intelligent man. And I am in no place to tell him or anyone else what he/they should do or not. These people have backgrounds and know their jobs, its simply a matter of putting all that info into successful use.

Liberty Chaser said...

This post took an interesting turn. In answer to Anonymous' first post (or Anonymous #1? Honestly people, just pick a name), true Islamic fundamentalism would be a good reason not to send students to certain countries. But don't people see that this is direct criticism of the so-called Western-educated opposition folks? The ones who are atracting negative criticism of Baku becuase of the Adnan Hajizade and Emin "Milli" Abdullayev trials? I don't think Mardanov is sending an ambiguous message against fundamentalism, rather he's telling the bloggers and Facebookers to shut up.

In response to second Anonymous and Arzu, the Miniusters serve the president, so if he doesn't design the concepts, he should always take responsibility for them. Also, putting Arzu in a position where she has to criticize or defend the president is a bad move. Luckily she mentions she lives abroad, so has more freedom in what she can say, but people should realize that its still a dangerous game.

However, Arzu, "I believe our President is a very smart and intelligent man. And I am in no place to tell him or anyone else what he/they should do or not". Seriously????? It is the job of ALL citizens to tell their leaders what to do, it's democracy 101. Just because it doesn't function here doesn't mean we should give up on it.

It's interesting that you have such strong faith in the professionalism and intelligence of your leadership. But growing corruption, monopolization, deteriorating relations with the West, a broken party system, and unfree media tell me not to agree with you. Somehow the post started out as criticism and ended as sympathetic hand patting in the comments section. Do keep writing though, just be careful.

Arzu Geybulla said...

Hi Liberty Chaser,

Thank for your comment. Indeed the post turned into something I wasn't expecting it to turn but I am glad ut spurred this much debate and as much reaction.

My position on the existing situation in the country is strong. I agree with you on everything you wrote regarding "corruption, monopolization, deteriorating relations with the West, a broken party system, and unfree media". This is the reality and this is what we the youth of the country is trying so desperately to change through education, awareness raising and new innovative ideas and possible cooperation with Azerbaijani leadership (ignorance wont help).

But I feel like I need to make few more additional remarks so as to make sure that i'm not misunderstood.

The post was never meant to be a pat on anyone's shoulder, especially the Minister of Education as i have personally endured his punishments and so my feelings towards him are not of the most pleasant nature.

At the end of the day, they are indeed political figures with certain responsibilities (given or placed by others but thats no news). In this particular case, the minister of education is responsible for sound educational policies. However, what ends up happening as a new idea is created is that by the time it reaches higher levels of the government (i.e. the decision makers), its purpose gets spoiled by those very people whose thinking doesn't coincide with that of the idea, i.e., they get carried away by certain "other" aspects of the project while leaving the main and most important bits out- such as building a school (which is a great policy) but forgetting about the infrastructure (electricity, heating, toilets, sewage)thats needed is indeed ready and available.

This should explain what I meant when I wrote that they create good ideas but unfortunately none of those are well analyzed.

Whether this lack of analysis is done due to certain pressure you mention is up to you and other readers to decide (even though we all know what its like and how it works).

And yes, we should say what we want and when we want, but given current reality its not possible and so elements of Democracy 101 class that you mention in your comment, unfortunately are not applicable. And hence I write because people read (if you know what i mean).

And there should always be hope, being hopeless wont make things better. At least whatever I have managed to preserve in the form/shape of hope i tend to it and try not to lose it.

Thanks again for your comment...