Education turns into on of the significant spheres of human activity in XXI century. Achievements in this field lay in the basis of important social and technological changes. The great attention paid to the education and its development in the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as in other countries depends on strategic importance of this sphere, the role of education in the society and interests of the major part of countries population.

The reforms implementing in the field of education have been started after confirming of the ‘Program of Reform in the field of education’ by Mr. Heydar Aliyev, National Leader of Azerbaijan in 1999. According to this program the structural changes have been made in higher education, higher educational institutions were presented wide powers and independency, some of the higher educational institutions have created their own activities based on self-administration as well as with the purpose of improving of the quality of education the system of non-state educational institutions had been also developed.

Azerbaijan has to strengthen international relations and cooperation to make progress in education sphere and to bring the education system of Azerbaijan in a line with international standards. Because of activity of Azerbaijan in the international scene, our Republic joined conventions for European (Paris, 1979) Region and South-Eastern Asia (Bangkok, 1983), and Lisbon Convention from 1997, which was prepared jointly with the Council of Europe and UNESCO. The Republic of Azerbaijan is a member of series of international instruments on educational issues, such as Convention on mutual recognition of diplomatic and scientific degrees.

On October 2, 2006 the Republic of Azerbaijan joined to the Convention on “Combat with discrimination in educational system” (December 14, 1960), also to the dated Protocol on “Establishing goodwill service commission for solving disagreements, arisen among the states joined to the Convention on “Combat with discrimination in educational system”” ( December 10, 1962).

Today the representatives of the education system of Azerbaijan participate in the activity of UNESCO, UNICEF, UNEVOK, ISESCO and European Educational Fund; also, our Republic collaborates with the bodies on education issues of the international organizations, such as the Council of Europe and the European Union using their practice and assistance.

Generally, Azerbaijan participates in the following regional and international projects and programs:

"Fraternized schools of USA and Commonwealth of Independent States" project. In the framework of this project 25 pupils and teachers from 5 schools were sent to USA to get education in American schools and the same number of American students and teachers visited Azerbaijan.

"The development of vocational education" - joint project of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan and European Educational Fund. The project aims to reconstruct vocational education in Azerbaijan.

"The improvement of English teaching methods in educational establishments" - joint program of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Great Britain. In the framework of this Program Seminars on English teaching methods are held in Baku and other regions, Azerbaijan teachers participate in advanced training courses in Great Britain. The program also aims to render expert assistance in preparing English teaching programs and textbooks.

- "The legislation on providing the quality of high education in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia" - joint project with the Educational Department of the Council of Europe. The project aims to assist establishment of mechanisms on providing the quality of education.

- "Tbilisi initiative" with Council of Europe - joint regional project. This project considers the preparation of textbooks titled "The history of nations of Caucasus" for the 15-16 years old pupils.

- The joint regional project with the Council of Europe on topic "Education on democratic citizenship". The project aims to assist preparation of education programs, studies, textbooks and other materials on the theme of "Human and society", which comply with international standards by the Council of Europe.

- The joint project with the Council of Europe on "The policy of educational sphere of national minorities". The project aims to provide inputs in the sphere of education policy of national minorities.

- The international project of the European Union such as TEMPUS/ TACIS renders financial and technical assistance to high educational institutions. The financial and technical assistance to our high educational institutions in the framework of TEMPUS/ TASIS project till now worthy 3,37 mln. Euro.

- The joint project between Montana State University and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the preparation of education programs, textbooks, high-level stuff in the area of basis of democracy in education system and in the training on citizenship.

- According to the Decrees of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on "Reforms in Education sphere" it was prepared "Reform Program" jointly with the Word Bank. For this reason Word Bank gave 5 million USD credit for implementation of this program. This project covers monitoring and assessment of education plan and programs, and providing reforms on education methods.

- In the light of cooperation with ACCELS, the non-governmental educational organization of the USA in 1999-2000 years 276 Azerbaijani young people were sent to the USA to get education in the framework of FSA/FLEX, FSA-Bachelor Degree, Edmund Maxi (2 years Master Degree Program), Intellectual Development of Youth and Study Exchange of Pupils and other programs. USA gave 27 million USD to the implement of this program.

- In the framework of cooperation with the USA IREX company, in 1996-2000 years more than 50 Azerbaijani citizens got education and raised the level of their skills.

- "Harmony Project" financed by the State Department of the USA covers 10 secondary education schools and considers the establishment of the Resource Center in these schools, supplying them with equipment and raising the level of skills of teachers.

- 44 schools were repaired and 4 new schools were opened in Xizi, Devechi and Salyan regions of Azerbaijan in the framework of cooperation program with Germany QTZ Company.

- DAAD- Germany Academic Exchange Service contributes into the cooperation between Azerbaijan and Germany. About 430 joint programs have been implemented since the establishing of cooperation on education between our countries. This program include in probation period, exchange of experience, germanistics and language courses, research conduction, education on Master Degree and other issues.

- In the framework of cooperation program with Japan Government, International Development Association gave a special grant to prepare education reform project in our country. This grant was spent on preparation of new reform program, identification of the education strategy for the next 10 years, segregation and realization of education priorities.

Azerbaijan also cooperates with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), which is responsible for strengthening collaboration between Islamic countries in the fields of education, science and culture.

On December 3-4, 2004, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan and ISESCO held joint international symposium in Baku on topic “Globalization and its influence to Muslim society”. As the continuation of the topic on May 26, 2005 ISESCO Educational Week was opened at the Ministry of Education. Only in three of 50 ISESCO member states Educational week was held and participation of the General Director of ISESCO Abdulaziz Bin Osman El Tuveyer at official opening ceremony is a visual indicator of effective collaboration between the Republic of Azerbaijan and ISESCO. In the frame of ISESCO Educational Week, agreements to organize trainings for Arabian language teachers and national seminar on education for citizenship were signed between ISESCO and the Ministry of Education.

Although Azerbaijan is not a member of the European Union, it collaborates with its bodies in the sphere of education. On October 26, 2004 Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the International Association for the promotion of cooperation with scientists from the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union (INTAS)” was signed. Scientists from Azerbaijan take part in financial programs announced by INTAS, and are able to gain financial support from the EU in order to realize different projects.

On June 1, 2005 “Scholarship for Young Scientists” program for the year of 2005 was announced by INTAS. Taking into consideration a large number of researchers from new independent states, and limited financial resources of INTAS, INTAS decided to prepare joint project financed by Azerbaijan, Moldova and Georgia. On March 6, 2006 Joint financed project on South Caucasus was announced by INTAS.

On May 17-18, 2004 in the framework of the Council of Europe’s project on "Providing the quality of education in Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia" conference of the Ministers of Education of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia was held in Strasburg. The cooperation program between 3 South Caucuses countries and the Secretariat of the Council of Europe for 2005-2006 years was adopted during this conference.

The year of 2005 was memorable for our country. On May 19-20, 2005 the 4th ministerial conference on Bologna process (known as European co-operation process in sphere of higher education) was held in Bergen (Norway). During abovementioned conference 5 countries including Azerbaijan (Armenia, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine) officially joined Bologna process. This process was launched in 1968 and the main goal of the process is to achieve European Higher Education Space free movement of scientific staff and students and possibility of recognizing of their professions by the 2010.

In September-December of 2005 in the frame of OSCE chairmanship (in 2005 Slovenia was chairman of OSCE) “Special Pilot Project for Education of Human Rights” based on Child Rights Convention was held in country for 10-12 years old children. The educational materials were translated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs into Azerbaijani language. Before the beginning of the project counselor of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, responsible person for OSCE issues B.Yamnishek visited our country on September 20-22, 2005. Within her visit B.Yamineshek met with the Ministers of Education , Youth, Sport and Tourism, and with the representatives of international organizations working in Azerbaijan (OSCE, Council of Europe, UNICEF) and NGO’s working in the sphere of training of children for human rights. The project was finished in December of 2005 and included 5 schools, 14 teachers and 476 pupils. On May 30, 2005 in order to modernize different stages of educational system, monitor quality of education at educational institutions, analyze the problems in this sphere and to take appropriate measures, Order for “Establishing Educational Commission under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan” was signed by the President.
Azerbaijan’s dynamical development and intensive integration to international organizations have also influenced the educational system of the country. The training and preparation of national professionals in the field of governance, industry and economy is of a national interest in our country. With this purpose, on October 19, 2006 Order № 1746 on “State Program for education of Azerbaijan youth abroad” was signed by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The reforms implementing in the field of education has started after confirming of the ‘Program of Reform in the field of education’ by Mr. Haydar Aliyev, National Leader of Azerbaijan. According to this program the structural changes have been made in higher education, higher educational institutions were presented wide powers and independency, some of the higher educational institutions have created own activities based on self-administration as well as with the purpose of improving of the quality of education the system of non-stateeducational institutions have also been developed 1325 thousand persons were educated in 4515 state and 17 non-state educational institutions at the beginning of 2010/2011 academic year. During the current academic year, size of persons educating in second and third sessions made 259 thousand or 19.5 percent against to 28.0 percent of persons educated in full-time (day) educational schools in 1991/1992.

There is enough quantity of state and non-state educational institutions for obtaining of higher and secondary specialized education. 51 higher and 62 secondary specialized educational institutions functioned during 2010/2011 academic year, relatively 140 thousand students educated in higher institutions and 53 thousand students – in secondary specialized educational institutions. The contingent of the higher educational institutions increased by 23.0 per cent compared to 1991/1992 academic year.

As a result of state care for education 16 state development programs during last years have been confirmed and are being realized in different fields of education sector. At the same time, ‘Education Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan’ dated 5 September 2009 and ‘State Program on reforms in education system of the Republic of Azerbaijan during “2009-2013” dated 22 May 2009 has been confirmed by the decree of Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The main goal of the state program is acceleration of the integration processes of the education system to Europe education, correspondence to Bologna principles, and formation of high quality education system meeting international standards.

New general educational school buildings with 397.8 thousand seats were constructed or additional seats were created in available schools during last 20 years. Moreover, pre-school educational institutions with 17.6 thousand seats have been constructed and introduced into use. New generation textbooks have been prepared and presented to pupils free of charge. Haydar Aliyev Foundation under leadership of Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, UNESCO and ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Deputy of the National Assembly has exceptional merit in realization of these measures. About 100 new schools have been constructed and capital repair has been implemented in different regions of the country in then framework of the project “Re-established Azerbaijan – new schools”.

The financial funds allocated from the state budget for development of the education are yearly increased. So, if the fund allocated for this purpose made 37.1 million manats in 1991, this figure in 2010 has reached to 1181.4 million manats.

Notable increasing of the educational expenditures is related with considering this field by Mr. I. Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan as main priority sphere of the state policy. 40.1 thousand Units of computers were available in the full-time general educational schools for the state of 1st October 2010 and there was at average 1 computer per 33 pupils. 1760 general educational schools or 47 per cent of schools have internet access. At present, 84 per cent of schools are provided with computer and other ICT.

1353 thousand persons were educated in 4439 state and 23 non-state educational institutions at the beginning of 2015/2016 academic year. New general educational school buildings with 594.7 thousand seats were constructed or additional seats were created in available schools during years of independence. Moreover, pre-school educational institutions with 27.2 thousand seats have been constructed and introduced into use. New generation textbooks have been prepared and presented to pupils free of charge. Heydar Aliyev Foundation under leadership of Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, UNESCO and ISESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Deputy of the National Assembly has exceptional merit in realization of these measures. About 400 new schools have been constructed and capital repair has been implemented in different regions of the country in the framework of the project “Re-established Azerbaijan - new schools”.

There is enough quantity of state and non-state educational institutions for obtaining of higher and secondary specialized education. 54 higher and 61 secondary specialized educational institutions functioned during 2015/2016 academic year, relatively 161 thousand students educated in higher institutions and 56 thousand students - in secondary specialized educational institutions. The contingent of the higher educational institutions increased for 1.5 times compared to 1991/1992 academic year.

As a result of care of president for education some development programs during last years have been confirmed and are being realized in different fields of education sector.

At the same time, “State Program on reforms in high education system of the Republic of Azerbaijan during 2009- 2013dated 22 May 2009 has been confirmed by the decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The main goal of the state program is acceleration of the integration processes of the education system to Europe education, correspondence to Bologna principles, and formation of high quality education system meeting international standards.

The financial funds allocated from the state budget for development of the education are yearly increased. So, if the fund allocated for this purpose made 37.1 million manats in 1991, this figure in 2015 has reached to 1605.1 million manats.

Today 2998 young Azerbaijani get successfully acquired specialties at the leading universities abroad by means of government. Number of foreign students educated in Azerbaijan has increased significantly. If in 1994/1995 academic year 1455 foreign students from 27 countries educated in educational institutions of the country this figure during current academic year reached to 3425 persons covering 64 countries.