British Council Azerbaijan in partnership with the Ministry of Education of the Republic Azerbaijan organised a UK Study Tour for leaders in Vocational Education from Azerbaijan.
In response to the changing needs of the labour market and globalisation, the development of the vocational education system is one of the national education priorities in Azerbaijan and the government has been implementing several programmes with the aim of improving the capacity of all educators in this field.
The study tour programme aimed to expose Azerbaijan educators to the educational policy environment in the UK and provide them with first-hand experience of teaching and school leadership in an international educational context.
The programme covered such topics as engaging employers, apprenticeships, assessment, curriculum development and student-centred approaches in TVET.
The British Council has been working in Azerbaijan since 1993 and over the years it has managed to build mutually beneficial partnerships between the most important and influential Azerbaijani and British institutions in the field of education to support best practice and to deliver sustainable changes.
We believe that our mission is best pursued by working in global partnerships and achieving the purpose involves supporting government education reforms, sharing of knowledge and experience and creating opportunities for people.
The two week programme that took place from 26 January to 9 February in partnership with Capital City College Group engaged 15 leaders from different vocational education institutions in Baku and the regions, selected to participate on this capacity building programme. During the study tour participants were shown presentations from a number of key sector stakeholders and participated in workshops delivered by People 1st.
From the very beginning each participant was very excited and keen to obtain extensive and transferable skills that would help them make important steps in overcoming existing problems mainly in key areas such as apprenticeships, quality assurance for vocational education and training, as well as public private partnerships.
'We believe that the skills and knowledge obtained during those two weeks will bring positive changes to the current vocational education system and contribute to social stability, equality and increased opportunities for young people to broaden their horizons.' Participant in the Study Tour
It is already an axiom that no country’s strong economy can develop without quality technical and vocational education system.
Although vocational education in Azerbaijan faces a number of challenges and requires major reforms, the government of Azerbaijan is trying to learn from other successful, economically viable and sustainable vocational education systems in order to select those features that best match goals in Azerbaijan and to adapt them as necessary to the local context.
It is obvious that there is no quick and easy way to reform the existing situation in TVET and therefore Azerbaijan is learning from the UK experience in the area, as well as experience of other countries. The UK model seems to be the most applicable in Azerbaijan.
The UK study tour included a well-designed programme that provided comprehensive information about the TVET system in the UK. The training included sessions on curriculum and programme development, establishing and managing the governance of TVET, quality assurance systems and developing successful career pathways. Delegates also gained insights into the UK’s world class apprenticeships and were given the opportunity to discover various approaches to putting policy into practice.
One of the key topics covered was Public Private Partnerships (PPP) which today play an increasingly important role in vocational education systems. Delegates learned how to develop effective cooperation with businesses and how to tailor curriculum to meet market needs.
The programme also included industry visits that showcased apprenticeship schemes in practice and site visits which gave participants the opportunity to witness the hands on experience colleges have in implementing teaching and learning processes.
Moreover, the programme included very useful sessions where participants were able to exchange knowledge on lessons learned from success stories and learn about new methods for learning and student performance, the application of technology in school management, quality assurance and conducting comparative analysis.
Partnerships are a powerful mechanism to engage the UK internationally and to build trust.
One of the most significant achievements of the UK study tour was the signing of a Letter of Intent between Baku State Vocational Education Center for Tourism and Social Services and Westminster Kingsway College to develop mutual cooperation on the exchange of experiences, and continue international cooperation in the near future. The selected group consisted of TVET leaders with a range of experience and levels of representation from cities and regions, different ages and representatives of the State Vocational Agency under the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan and vocational school leadership. This variety helped to add to knowledge sharing and learning.
Since the completion of the study tour participants have cascaded new knowledge and experience with their staff as well as proposed suggestions on future activities.