Speech of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev at the meeting held at school No 18, in Baku on the occasion of beginning of a new school year - September 1, 1997



Dear children, pupils and students!

Distinguished teachers, parents!

I heartily congratulate you on the occasion of outset of new academic year in all educational institutions in our country, and I wish you successes in your education, classes and life.

Today is actually a big celebration for our country and people. This day is relevant to each family and person. Somebody's firstborn goes to school, somebody has already had several children in school and they begin a new school year in different classes, and somebody's grandchildren go to school. And some children have already finished secondary school and go to university to get higher education.

Today is a momentous day in every family, every home and every corner of our country. Today is an important day for every citizen as well as for our country and people, because this day is dedicated to development and education of our people from children to adults.

Today Azerbaijan is all wrapped in flowers, joy and good mood. Wherever I am, I always celebrate this day as a holiday and I am very glad that I am with you today and I celebrate this day with teachers and pupils of school № 18.

The difficulties existing in recent years have been eliminated and our schools work under normal conditions. As before, this year our schools have done all the necessary preparatory work for receiving pupils. New school buildings have been constructed in some places. School doors are open to all students. This is one of the main factors of normal and free life in our country.

That is why I particularly emphasize that because of troubles occurring in our country starting from 1988-89 years, the military invasion of Armenia towards Azerbaijan, as well as the arbitrariness, lawlessness and chaos affected all spheres of life in the country, including education. Functioning of schools weakened and dropped to zero. Crime and arbitrariness, prevaiting in our country in those years, frightened parents so much that they could not send their children to school. It is known that the education process was halted in many families in those years.

I am glad to say that all the difficult moments of our country are behind us. We eliminated those circumstances, removed crime groups and created comfort and peace for the people in our republic. As you see, now, our schools function freely and children receive education in all regions of Azerbaijan.

This is the greatest achievement in the life of our country in recent years. Because in other spheres somehow you can tolerate weakness and backwardness and damages inflicted in these areas can be eliminated quickly. But nations education system must not be damaged. It is such work that should be consistent. Even if there is break for one year, it can cause great harm to people. We received such blows and saw their serious repercussion. But today, we should all rejoice that there is an order in the education system, our schools are run, and all parents send their children to school safely and are engaged in their education.

Education occupies an important place in Azerbaijan. Imagine, today 130,000 children start school and begin their studies in our country. 560,000 children will be studying at secondary schools this year. 160,000 teachers, it is great contingent, will teach at secondary schools.

Admission to high schools was also quite normal. This year 19,000 students have been enrolled to high schools of Azerbaijan. This year 89, 000 students will study at high schools, 25,000 at colleges and 25,000 at technical colleges. These figures are an indication that all young people in Azerbaijan are surrounded by education. These figures show that we are building a good foundation for the future of Azerbaijan. Calling your attention to these facts, I want to say that the independent Azerbaijan can be proud of all these facts. Level of each nation is determined by its level of knowledge. And to have a level of knowledge it is necessary to have continuous education and it should be developed. We have achieved this and I hope that it will be in the spotlight in the future. We will be able to improve the quality of education in Azerbaijan in future.

Today, I reiterate my respect and esteem to teachers and say that teachers have a special place in our society. They deserve respect and they should be surrounded with special care. I hope that our teachers at secondary and high schools will be devoted to their professions and will improve their knowledge in future. With the efforts of our teachers, our education system will improve, and all this will serve to the future of independent Azerbaijan.

Dear children! You are happy. You are happy, because you study at schools of independent Azerbaijan. One of the values of state independence is that we build our education system according to the history, spirit and traditions of our people. But this is a very complicated process. This process can be completed in a short time. Today, I appeal to all citizens, teachers, school leaders and I ask them to conduct their work in the education system on the basis of the principles of independent Azerbaijan. Writing new textbooks is of particular importance.

I know that it is not easy. It depends on many factors. And today, I strongly suggest that the Ministry of Education and the Cabinet of ministers be more seriously dealt with the replacement and creation of new textbooks in accordance with the history and life of independent Azerbaijan. If the lessons of humanitarian subjects, such as history, literature and others are conducted on the basis of old textbooks, they do not bring benefit to us. Still there are people educated on the basis of old textbooks, and their views, thoughts are in the process of change. But today's students must necessarily learn from new textbooks.

We have adopted a new Latin alphabet. I feel that the use of the Latin alphabet is very slow. I think we have to accelerate this process. The old read the Cyrillic alphabet that is why it is difficult for them to read Latin. I want to say that there is nothing difficult in this. The difference between the Cyrillic and Latin is not so big. I address to the older generation and call them to take pains a little and eventually you will soon get rid of the Cyrillic alphabet.

Our today and tomorrow is connected with Latin alphabet. Today, I address to the publishers to print all the books in Latin. All the books from 1939 until now have been published in Cyrillic. Great achievements and inventions have been made in our history, science and culture during these years. All these have reflected in the books. Our libraries are full of these books. Undoubtedly, these books are used and will be used after a dozen years. If we do not swicht to Latin in all areas, we will be late. This should especially be organized at schools. I demand it from the Ministry of Education and from all schools.

Sense of independence, freedom of Azerbaijan must be taught in detail at schools. It is very important because sense of patriotism should be taught from childhood. Peculiar character isties of our nation lies in the fact that our people are patriots. They get a sense of patriotism in their mothers womb.

Training and education are of particular importance in this sphere. To educate our people, our nation and our youth is the main direction of our schools and the responsibility of our teachers. You should give students a comprehensive education. Students should learn all subjects at secondary schools. In addition to all these, to teach students the rich history, culture, morality and moral values and to educate students on the basis of these traditions are sacred duty of teachers. I wish our teachers will never forget this.

We must use every opportunity. I believe that the attributes of independence of Azerbaijan should be promoted in schools. Respect to and understanding of its holiness should be in every child and teenager. Flag of Azerbaijan is not just a flag. It is a symbol of our nationhood and independence. According to the old traditions this flag had no special significance, this flag bore a formal nature. But now we live a new life. We are in our independent country and state. Regardless of what country we visit, raising the Azerbaijani flag indicates representation of Azerbaijan in that country, and it creates a sense of pride among our people.

I visit many countries. When I see the flag of Azerbaijan at the airport, I feel very happy. I see the flag of Azerbaijan at my residence, on the car I travel in and during negotiations. It is a symbol of our independent state. Therefore, every citizen, particularly young people of Azerbaijan must understand and appreciate it. Love of this flag must be equal to the love of the motherland, nation and state. Flag of Azerbaijan should be in every home, every family should worship the Azerbaijani flag. This flag should be not only in official places, offices, streets, palaces, schools, but also a precious part of every family.

We must promote State Emblem of Azerbaijan. State Emblem of Azerbaijan together with the Azerbaijani flag is an attribute of our national independence. Azerbaijan has a beautiful anthem. Today the national anthem of Azerbaijan has been performed here. It is applanding that this anthem was written in 1918. Author of this anthem is our great composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov. The words of the anthem were written by our great poet Ahmed Javad. Both music and words of our national anthem are beautiful.

When I visit a foreign country, two anthem are performed -Anthem of Azerbaijan and the national anthem of the visited country. National anthem of each country is nice for them. It is natural. But comparing all the anthems I see that the authors of our national anthem wrote it with great virtuosity. Every time I listen to this an them in a foreign country, I feel pride. Anthem must not only be listened to but also be sung. Unfortunately, we have no such tradition. We listen to the anthem, but the anthem has also words. I think this is a drawback in our lives. People should sing the national anthem when it is performed. It is important. One thing is to listen, and quite another to say these words with music. All this helps to develop a sense of patriotism. It is also important because it is respect to our anthem. Therefore, I oblige all secondary and high school students and teachers to learn the anthem of Azerbaijan in the short term. You know better than me how to organize it. But it should be organized so that everyone can sing the anthem skillfully.

I say this not only for schools, but for society as a whole. Perhaps these days I will have to give a decree on the organization of this work everywhere. In society everything starts at school, and education. Therefore I say this here, at school, in front of the people who are engaged in education. This is one of your responsibilities. I wish you to do this in the short term and report to me.

It is very necessary. But the main duty of school and teachers is to prepare worthy citizens for our people and country. Today's children are adult citizens of the future.

Teacher is a good profession as they bring up the most valuable, talented, educated and patriotic citizens for society. No doubt that in the first place the teacher himself I herself must have these qualities, must work on himself. I herself teacher who does not work on himself I herself can not be a good teacher. Most of our teachers are good as they work hard on the subject they teach, develop their knowledge in social and political sphere and improve themselves. School is such a process where all students, teachers and all the staff develop.

I wish you all successes in the performance of these glorious duties. I want to express my confidence that positive changes in secondary and higher education will be strengthened and shortcomings in educational institutions will be eliminated.

I assure you that education is the primary responsibility of the government in independent Azerbaijan and it is under special attention of President. I shall continue to do my duty with dignity. I hope that you will also perform your duties with dignity.

I Once again I congratulate you on this remarkable day. I wish you happiness and health.

I congratulate all students, children and teachers in Azerbaijan on the new school year. I wish everyone health and happiness. Goodbye.

"Azerbaijan" neuspaper, September 2, 1997