The basis of Azerbaijan’s rapid integration into the world community is the high level of its socio-economic progress and scientific and technical potential, as well as its significant contribution to the world cultural heritage. The foundation of all the successes has been laid by National Leader Heydar Aliyev. The year 1969, when Heydar Aliyev came to power, is considered a turning point in the history of Azerbaijan, the starting of a new epoch. Today, that period is rightly regarded as a period of renaissance of Azerbaijani education, science and culture. 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. It is known that in the 50s and 60s of the 20th century, Azerbaijan was considered a backward agrarian republic in all areas, except for the oil industry. Thanks to the titanic activity of Heydar Aliyev, Azerbaijan has embarked on a path of comprehensive development. Along with the rapid development of Azerbaijan’s industry and agriculture, great progress has been made in the development of science, education and culture. 

Under his leadership, reforms were carried out at various levels of education. Although the transition to general secondary education in Azerbaijan began in the mid-1960s, the realization of this idea became possible in the 1970s. As a result of Heydar Aliyev's far-sighted policy, 849 secondary schools with more than 350,000 places were built and put into operation in those years on a standard project. During these years, the provision of schools with technical and scientific-methodological tools has significantly improved. As a result of Heydar Aliyev’s hard work and care, the educational and material base and staffing of secondary schools were further strengthened. Since 1978, textbooks have been provided free of charge to secondary school students. Since 1978, schoolchildren were provided with free textbooks. In the 70s and 80s, 5 new universities were opened in the country. In those years, the number of people receiving higher education in the country increased from 70,000 to 100,000.

The late 1980s and early 1990s were a period of chaos in the history of Azerbaijan, and years of depression and decline in education. During this period, the construction of schools was completely stopped, care for education was pushed into the background, education funding was reduced to a minimum. In this period, as a result of Armenia’s military aggression against Azerbaijan, 242 kindergartens, 616 general education schools, 11 technical schools, 1 university, 2 university branches and 3 secondary special schools were destroyed. The education system in the country faced with many problems.

Returning to power for the second time in June 1993, at the insistence of the people to save the country from the chaos and civil war, Heydar Aliyev took care of the development of education in a short time after the establishment of stability in the country. Thanks to him, 11 years of education including primary, general secondary, and full secondary education was implemented. The new draft law “On Education” has been submitted for public discussion. By the Decree of the national leader Heydar Aliyev, the State Commission was established in March 1998 to develop a concept and strategy for building national education in independent Azerbaijan. Thus, the concept and strategy of education construction covering 3 stages was developed in independent Azerbaijan and its consistent implementation was started in 1999.

One of the main goals of Heydar Aliyev was the idea of building the content of education on the basis of the principles of statehood of independent Azerbaijan. The issue of developing new textbooks for secondary schools always was in the focus of Heydar Aliyev’s attention. He was always interested in the works and always emphasized the importance of textbooks on the Azerbaijani language, Azerbaijani literature and history in Azerbaijan in the education system. The textbooks and teaching aids in secondary schools have been completely updated. The decision of Heydar Aliyev “On the transition of general education schoolchildren to free use of textbooks” was implemented.

The education strategy, estableshed by national leader Heydar Aliyev, is now being successfully continued and developed by President Ilham Aliyev within the framework of the country’s sustainable socio-economic development strategy. In recent years, due to the attention and care of President Ilham Aliyev, serious achievements have been made, a number of development programs have been approved and implemented to provide a clear future for the national education system, and substantial measures have been taken to ensure sustainable education. The measures include updating the content of education, developing new programs, textbooks and teaching aids, providing dozens of publications and educational institutions, improving education management, strengthening the material and technical and educational base of educational institutions, using modern information and communication technologies (ICT) in teaching, expanding international relations in education, improving the quality of education through the implementation of targeted programs in the education system and so on.

The funds allocated for education is increased every year thanks to the various sources of funding in Azerbaijan, especially as a result of the implementation of the new oil strategy. Today, it ranks second among the state budget items in terms of the amount of funds allocated to education.

Thanks to the daily care of President Ilham Aliyev, development programs based on scientific analysis in various fields of education have been approved and implemented, substantial measures have been taken for the sustainable development of education, and the process of large-scale reforms has become irreversible.

Education indicators have particular importance in human development assessment in a globalizing world. According to research conducted by UN experts on human development, the literacy rate of the population in Azerbaijan is 99 percent.

In accordance with the tasks set by President Ilham Aliyev, who considers education as one of the main priorities of state policy, the Ministry of Education implements adopted programs in various fields. These programs envisage updating the content of education, developing new programs, textbooks and teaching aids, improving education management, strengthening the material and technical and bases of educational institutions, using information technology in the teaching process, staffing, updating preschool education, improving vocational education, special organization of education of children in need of care, development of creative potential of talented children and youth and other areas. The state programs on socio-economic development of the regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan approved by the decrees of the President are aimed at the development of the education sector, including the construction and further strengthening of the material and technical base of new schools.

As a result of the implementation of two State Programs covering 2005-2007 and 2008-2013, remarkable achievements have been made in the field of informatization of education. Secondary schools of the country are provided with ICT, one computer ratio is provided for every 18 students. 2351 schools were provided with broadband high-speed internet, and the proportion of schools connected to the internet increased from 1.5 percent in 2004 to 52 percent in 2016.

Information and resources for the development of network infrastructure and provision of high-speed internet at all levels of the education system, providing methodological, technical and other services to ensure the integration of ICT, provided for in the “State Program for Informatization of Education System” covering 2008-2012 years, networking, inculcation of ICT skills in teaching and technical staff, creation of assessment and motivation system for innovative and creative teachers, creation of modern electronic scientific-methodical aids and electronic teaching resource base on all subjects, development of education management information systems , a lot of work has been done to develop a single education portal.

Determining the content of general secondary education in accordance with the needs of the time remains an urgent problem. Within the framework of the Education Sector Development Project, the document “General Education Concept (National Curriculum)” was prepared and approved by the government. The application of a new teaching method in the 1st-4th grades was completed, and subject curricula were developed for primary education.

According to the Second Education Sector Development Project, a working group of the Ministry of Education is working to ensure the development of the preschool curriculum in accordance with the implementation plan for the continuation of curriculum reform and support subcomponent for curriculum implementation. According to the Second Education Sector Development Project, a working group of the Ministry of Education is working to ensure the development of the preschool curriculum in accordance with the implementation plan for the continuation of curriculum reform and support subcomponent for curriculum implementation. According to the Second Project, trainings were held for primary school teachers and educators on the implementation of the “Program for preparing five-year-olds for school in short-term training groups” and the “Parent education program”.

The new content also necessitated the introduction of innovations in the student assessment system, the transition from daily assessment to the in-school assessment model. Conducting final exams for secondary education in a centralized manner serves to improve the quality of education, increase the responsibility of students and teachers, school administrators, as well as parents in relation to education, to eliminate the negative situation that has accumulated over the years.

As a result of the implementation of the State programme for development of creative potential of children (youth) with special talent (2006-2010), the material and technical base of lyceums and gymnasiums was strengthened, a database on gifted children was created, the network of new types of educational institutions was expanded. A number of secondary and boarding schools have been transformed into lyceums.

Restoration of awarding gold and silver medals to graduates of secondary schools, taking into account the performance of students who took high places in international competitions in student entrance exams serves to stimulate student work.

Positive dynamics is observed in the results of entrance exams for the 2016-2017 academic year. Thus, the number of those who scored more than 200 points in the entrance exams this year was a record 34,475 people (43.9%), which is 3.9% more than last year and 9.2% more than in 2014.

One of the successes in the field of education is the implementation of the Development Program in connection with the organization of education of children with special needs (with disabilities). In accordance with the program, the material and technical and educational base of institutions for children with special needs has been substantially improved, the content of education in this field has been updated, and pilot projects on inclusive education have been implemented for the first time in our country.

Pre-school education, which lays the foundation for the transformation of material capital into human capital, plays an important role in the physical and psychological development of children from an early age, in revealing their talents and abilities, and in preparing them for school life.

A number of serious steps have been taken in recent years to develop preschool education. Successes have been achieved in strengthening the material and technical base of institutions, improving management, involving 5-year-old children in compulsory preschool education, improving staffing, and developing a new curriculum under the Program on Renewal of Preschool Education in the Republic of Azerbaijan during the period of 2007-2010. There are 1638 preschool educational institutions in the country involving 112,892 children. Some kindergartens have been overhauled, and the number of children enrolled in preschools has increased. The number of private kindergartens has reached 24. 

The level of coverage of children with preschool education in the country was 15.8 percent in 2009, but now this figure is 17.6 percent. The number of children involved in preschool education in Baku increased from 31,102 in 2009 to 34,369 in 2010, and the coverage level exceeded 26 percent.

As the economic potential of Azerbaijan strengthens, the material and technical base of out-of-school educational institutions becomes even richer. Extracurricular education creates favorable conditions for the development of students’ interests, tendencies and skills, intellectual levels, creative abilities, physically healthy growth, provides meaningful organization of their leisure and leisure time.

Children’s creativity, technical creativity and out-of-school education, young tourists and ethnography, ecological education and practice, aesthetic education centers, art house, children-youth sports and chess schools to educate students in the spirit of patriotism, to develop their physical education, creative abilities purposeful work is being done.

Stimulation of the work of advanced pedagogical teams and teachers is always in the center of attention. The order of President Ilham Aliyev “On the establishment of the Best Secondary School and the Best Teacher Award” signed on September 4, 2008 was an important event in school life. According to the order, the rules of the “Best School” and “Best Teacher” competitions were approved. Successful results of awarding the best teachers are expected in raising the status and prestige of teachers in society, increasing the role of teachers in the implementation of state education policy, and disseminating the best practices of creative pedagogical teams throughout the country.

In the 2015-2016 academic year, about 3,700 students in 176 classrooms in 58 schools located in 5 regions of the country were involved in teaching in the 10th grade.

The Heydar Aliyev Foundation has great support in the construction and reconstruction of schools. From the beginning of its operation to the end of 2010, about 300 schools and kindergartens were built or put into operation or overhauled within the “New School for a Renewing Azerbaijan” and other programs initiated by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. These educational institutions, which meet the highest requirements, are equipped with modern equipment, heating system, rich libraries, visual aids and computers.

In the last 13 years, 70 percent of schools have been rebuilt or reconstructed. In the 2015-2016 academic year, the Ministry of Education built and put into operation 12 general education schools, 2 boarding schools and 3 secondary special education institutions were reconstructed. As part of measures to improve the material and technical and educational base of educational institutions, modern laboratory rooms have been established in 60 schools.

For the 2016-2017 academic year, 6,623,135 copies of 261 textbooks and teaching aids for secondary schools were prepared and published and given to students.

Vocational education is an integral part of general education and is considered one of the leading forces in the socio-economic development of the country. Measures aimed at the development of vocational education at the state level allow the active part of the population to respond to changes in the local and international labor markets. By the Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated July 3, 2007, the “State Program for the development of technical vocational education in Azerbaijan Republic 2007-2012)” was adopted. The Ministry of Education has approved an Action Plan for the implementation of the State Program.

In order to increase the effectiveness of vocational training in the field of primary vocational education and to ensure the training of competitive qualified personnel, the Vocational Education Agency under the Ministry of Education was established in 2016. At present, there are 108 vocational education institutions in Azerbaijan, including 45 vocational lyceums, 2 vocational training centers and 61 vocational schools, 8 of them are in penitentiaries.

Secondary special education has a special place in the solution of issues related to the socio-economic development of the country, in meeting the needs of the individual and society for vocational education in the conditions of market relations. Measures to optimize the network of secondary special education institutions were continued, 14 colleges were merged and 7 colleges, including 3 regional colleges, were established in accordance with the Resolution No. 30 of the Cabinet of Ministers dated February 3, 2016. It was given to higher education institutions in accordance with 3 college profiles.

This stage of education plays an important role in providing qualified personnel in various sectors of the economy. Being an integral part of the system of continuing education, secondary special education addresses two interrelated issues - the acquisition of various professions by young people and their general compulsory education. In recent years, necessary changes have been made in the structure of staff training in secondary special education institutions. Thus, in accordance with the needs of the labor market and the interests of young people in the new conditions, the training of specialists in oil and energy, engineering, information, transport and communications, socio-cultural services, economics, business organization, marketing and management, economic and humanitarian specialties has increased significantly.

Changes have also been made in the content of secondary special education. Thus, the state standards of secondary special education meeting the minimum requirements for the content and level of training of junior specialists in specialties and directions of staff training in secondary special education institutions have been applied and new curricula and programs have been developed accordingly.

Important steps are being taken in the country to establish a new type of secondary special education institutions - colleges. As a result of merging a number of technical schools, a new type of secondary special education institutions - colleges have been established, taking into account their material and technical base, the potential of pedagogical staff and international experience in this field. The role of higher education in the formation of highly intelligent human capital, in building a strong economy that creates the basis for sustainable development has never been more relevant. The role of higher education in the formation of human capital in Azerbaijan, as in all countries, is undeniable.

The introduction of two-level higher education (bachelor’s and master’s) in the country in 1993 is one of the important events in the history of education in Azerbaijan. For the first time, the introduction of two-level higher education (bachelor’s and master’s) has been started in 23 higher education institutions in 80 directions and more than 300 specialties. In accordance with the “State Strategy for the Development of Education in the Republic of Azerbaijan” approved by the Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated 24.10.2013, the legal and regulatory framework of higher education is being improved at the bachelor’s level. In order to implement the “State Program on Reforms in the Higher Education System of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2009-2013”, the President signed a Decree dated February 10, 2010 “On the introduction of a new funding mechanism in higher education institutions.” According to the Decree, starting from the 2010-2011 academic year, the principle of per capita funding has been applied in higher education institutions. 

Since 2005, admission to the master's program is carried out by the SSAC. At present, master’s degree training is carried out in most higher education institutions of the country. Since 2013, higher education institutions that train doctors have also been conducting residency training. In modern times, the integration of education systems in European countries and the formation of a pan-European higher education space are of particular importance. The Bologna Process is one of the measures taken in this regard. Azerbaijan joined the Bologna process in 2005, thus defining the outlines of reforms in higher education. The experience of many foreign countries in creating a legal and regulatory framework for the application of this system was studied, the “Model Regulations on the organization of education in credit institutions in higher education” was approved, and at the initial stage it was decided to introduce an experimental credit system in several universities.

The Azerbaijan Teachers’ Institute joined the Azerbaijan State Pedagogical University, and the Sumgayit, Salyan and Mingachevir branches of the Teachers’ Institute were abolished. In accordance with the program of socio-economic development of the regions, branches of Baku State University were established in Gazakh and Azerbaijan State University of Economics in Zagatala in order to meet the needs of new production and service sectors for qualified personnel. The Azerbaijan-French University (UFAZ) has accepted its first students in the current academic year.

In order to accelerate the process of integration of education in Azerbaijan into the world education system, especially higher education institutions into the European higher education space and the implementation of the requirements of the Bologna Declaration, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed the order dated January 2008. According to the first paragraph of the order, the “State Program on Reforms in the Higher Education System of the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2008-2012” was prepared and approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

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.

Today 2055 students are being educated in different leading foreign universities. 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 4723 persons covering 45 countries.

In 2016, “Maarifchi” (Enlightener) Student Loan Fund was established at the initiative of the Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan. The fund was launched by several state higher education institutions. The fund is designed to create equal higher education opportunities for students from low-income families, who experience problems with paying their tuition fees, through granting long-term low-interest loans to them. 

In the 2016-2017 academic year, French-Azerbaijani University (UFAZ) was opened. French-Azerbaijani University announced enrollment in four disciplines in 2016/2017 academic year: Chemical Engineering (State Oil and Industry University and Strasbourg University), Computer Science (State Oil and Industry University and Strasbourg University), Geophysical Engineering (State Oil and Industry University and Strasbourg University), and Oil Exploration and Exploitation (State Oil and Industry University and Rennes 1 University). 

In the 2016-2017 academic year, Baku branch of I. M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University was opened with a solemn ceremony.

Azerbaijan is in the 78th place in to the quality of higher education and training, 94th in involvement in higher education, 82nd in staff training and the 81th on the indicator of the quality of primary education in the world out of 144 countries ranked in the 2016 edition of the Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum.

The Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on education sets out basic principles of public policy in ensuring the citizens’ educational rights as established by the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the general conditions for regulating the educational activities. It sets the foundation for the adoption of corresponding laws and other legislative acts at various levels of education. Secular and continuous education in the Republic of Azerbaijan is a strategically important area of priority, which reflects the interests of citizens, society, and the state.

On November 16, 2018, President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on the approval of the “State program on increasing the international competitiveness of the higher education system in the Republic of Azerbaijan for 2019-2023”.

According to the Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev “On some measures to improve the management in the field of science and education in the Republic of Azerbaijan” dated July 28, 2022 the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan was renamed to Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The Action Plan of the “I State Program of the Great Return to the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan liberated from occupation” was approved by the Order of the Head of State. According to the Action Plan, the Ministry of Science and Education of Azerbaijan was instructed to prepare proposals for the construction and restoration of educational institutions in settlements in accordance with territorial planning documents for 2022-2026. The document notes that it’s planned to construct and restore 7 pre-school and general education institutions in the Shusha district, 29 in the Aghdam district, 23 in the Fuzuli district, 21 in the Zangilan district, 30 in the Kalbajar district, 21 in the Lachin district, 16 in the Gubadli district, 25 in the Jabrayil district, 20 in the Khojavand district and 5 in the Tartar district (including Sugovushan and Talish villages).

On 28 November 2023, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan signed an Order “On Establishment of Karabakh University”.

Modern Azerbaijani education is developing on the basis of its rich progressive traditions, with a strategic course defined by national leader Heydar Aliyev and successfully continued by President Ilham Aliyev.