The message reads:
"Dear teachers and students!
I sincerely congratulate you on the start of a new academic year. This year, the new school year begins in new conditions, during a pandemic. With this in mind, the new academic year will be organized in a new format. Our main goal is to protect the Azerbaijani people from this misfortune and all the decisions made pursue this very goal.
I must note that Azerbaijan, having taken very prompt action from the first days of the pandemic, has been able to save our people from major troubles. As you know, since the beginning of March, all schools, universities and other educational institutions were closed and the main goal of that was to protect children and adolescents from illness. Naturally, this has had an adverse impact on the sphere of education. However, I believe that as a result of the measures taken, we have managed to prevent a significant part of the negative consequences of the pandemic in education. I am sure that the new academic year, which begins in the new circumstances, will be successful, that all our pupils and students will receive good knowledge and teachers will fulfill their official duties with dignity.
We are currently preparing for a post-pandemic period. Of course, after the vaccine is received, we will be able to say that this period is over. As you know, Azerbaijan is currently in talks with several companies in connection with the delivery of the vaccine to our country. Of course, the developed vaccine must pass all stages of testing and receive international certificates. After that, the vaccine will be delivered to Azerbaijan and then, I am sure, we will be able to return to normal, ordinary life, including the restoration of the traditional educational process in the field of education.
Despite the consequences of the pandemic, the economic downturn and the reduction of oil revenues, we continue to build schools and universities. This includes the fact that not a single social project has been cut. As you know, in 2019 and 2020 we provided citizens with a large social package. This year the state provided support to almost 5 million citizens of Azerbaijan, and this support continues to this day.
As for the construction of schools, I can say that 147 schools are to be built this year. Most of them have already been built and made ready for the Day of Knowledge. Several schools are to be opened before the end of this year. I should also note that 45 out of 147 schools were built on the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. For 17 years now, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has been doing a lot of work in this area. As you know, the construction of new schools in Azerbaijan has gained momentum within the framework of the “New School for a Renewing Azerbaijan” program launched by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
In the last two to three years, we have been building modular schools in small villages. This year, the construction of 60 modular schools will be provided. Thus, about 150 schools are being built and overhauled in just one year. I should also mention that over the past 17 years, almost 3,700 schools have been built and overhauled in Azerbaijan. This constitutes the overwhelming majority of our school fund, because there are currently about 4,500 schools in Azerbaijan, of which 3,700 have received a completely new appearance and have been rebuilt.
At the same time, the construction of buildings for higher educational institutions was ensured this year. In June, I attended the commissioning of a new building for Ganja State Agrarian University in Ganja. The area of this building is 22,000 square meters. In September, a new building of the Azerbaijan State Economic University was put into operation. The area of this building is 13,000 square meters. Two new ADA buildings were commissioned and their area is 35,000 square meters. Thus, in just a year, new buildings of three universities with an area of 70,000 square meters have been built. This, of course, requires major funds, and we allocate them because the funds allocated for education are funds allocated for the future. Back in 2004, I said that we need to turn “black gold” into human capital, and we did this. Not only has the material and technical infrastructure of education been strengthened in Azerbaijan in recent years and all our higher educational institutions are based in renovated buildings today, but also the quality of education has improved. This is a very important issue and we see it in various areas. Our schools occupy high places in international Olympiads and become winners of the Olympiads. I can say that interest in the teaching profession has been restored and is growing, and this is manifested in numbers. Every year, more and more young people choose the teaching profession. Many of our young people scoring high results in entrance exams want to become teachers because the working conditions of teachers have improved, they work in excellent schools and universities, their salaries have been increased, and teachers passing a diagnostic evaluation receive high salaries. Of course, this justifies young people’s desire to become teachers. In addition, the teaching profession has always been one of the most respected professions in Azerbaijan. I am very glad that we are revitalizing the authority of this profession. This will also contribute to an increase in the number of competent and knowledgeable people in Azerbaijan in the future because the successful development of any country of the modern world will certainly be determined by its intellectual potential. It would be enough to look at the experience of developed countries and ask why these countries are considered developed. It is due to knowledge, competence and technology. It is the developed countries that are now inventing and offering new technologies to the world. In fact, many of these countries do not have natural resources. Therefore, the development of any country is not measured by its natural resources. In the future, this will manifest itself even more clearly. So the funds invested in education are funds invested in the future, independence and security of each country.
It is no coincidence that the expenditure allocated for education in Azerbaijan is in second place among other budget expenses. If we were not at war, they would be in first place because our largest expenditure at present is related to defense. And this is only natural. In other words, this in itself serves as an indicator, a manifestation of our policy and reflects our intentions. I am glad that today our youth is attracted to knowledge. They must have knowledge and be competent in order to govern our country in the future. Our tomorrow will be in the hands of children, pupils and students going to schools and universities today. Their knowledge and competence will, of course, determine the future of our country. At the same time, I must specifically note that our youth and children should be brought up in the spirit of patriotism, in the national spirit, on the basis of national values – traditional Azerbaijani values. Of course, the role of the family is of paramount importance. At the same time, teachers in all schools must educate students in the national spirit, in the spirit of traditional values.
Today, under the pretext of globalization, we see manifestations of big politics – some external circles poison the minds of young people, lead them astray. People come across false information, slander and messages of a provocative nature. Sometimes young people cannot understand which information is true and which is false. Therefore, a lot depends on the teachers. We should protect our children and teenagers from the “values” that run counter to national customs and traditions. Our children should be attached to the Motherland and nation, value independence most of all, be brought up in the national spirit, in the spirit of patriotism, defend and preserve the national customs and traditions we have preserved for centuries. If this is the case, Azerbaijan will continue to follow the path of independence and development.
As an independent country today, we have made great strides. In any sphere, the Azerbaijani people see what the advantages of independence are. Azerbaijan is a dignified country today. It acts with dignity in the international arena. Azerbaijan is a free country and our citizens live in freedom. In the economic sphere, Azerbaijan is a developing country with a powerful army. We have achieved all this during the period of independence. Today, Azerbaijan is one of a handful of countries that carry out a completely independent policy – both external and internal. This policy enjoys the support of the Azerbaijani people. I feel it all the time, every day. This support gives me additional strength. Relying on it, we confidently lead Azerbaijan forward. Our children and youth need to lead the country along this path in the future – the path of independence, so that the Azerbaijani people never depend on anyone in the future, so that we never fall under the influence of anyone. As I said, knowledge, competence, patriotism, national spirit and dignity play the main role here.
I am glad that today's Azerbaijani youth meets precisely these high criteria. I am sure that these positive tendencies will be continued and our children and youth, having acquired knowledge and become qualified professionals, will continue to serve the Motherland as worthy citizens and contribute to our common development.
I congratulate you on the start of the new academic year again and wish you success!"