Azerbaijan Creates New Class of Elderly Unemployed Teachers
This week, it appears nearly 30,000 teachers are getting the boot for being aged 65 or older. Trend has the story for us:
The retirement of teachers who have reached 65 years of old is discussed in Azerbaijan, Education Minister Misir Mardanov told reporters on Sunday. He said this age limit can be introduced after giving civil servant status to teachers.
Mardanov said that currently there are up to 30,000 teachers aged over 65 years in Azerbaijan.
“The status of civil servants will be given to teachers in stages. Teachers will receive a special status of civil servants. This will be reflected on wages, retirement age,” said Mardanov.
Talk about a dramatic change! Talking with a few of my PCV colleagues who are English teachers, this is hitting some of them pretty hard. One PCV’s counterpart teacher is over 65 and is probably one of the few teachers at the school who is actually trying. Yet, at the same time, a majority of these teachers are ineffective, anyways. They are Soviet holdovers who couldn’t be fired, or were always on time with their bribe payments to keep their jobs.
So while Azerbaijan is creating an entire class of unemployed elderly pensioners, they are also opening up 30,000 new jobs! That sounds good, for a country where unemployment is a serious drag on the economy, especially outside of Baku. Injecting this many new faces into the education system could make a significant change. New teachers, new ideas, a new set of minds to work with and mold to ideas of effective teaching. Yet, again, there are some serious drawbacks here. While all these new teachers will be flowing into schools, there will also likely be new revenue sources coming with them to grease the wheels of corruption. One PCV friend says that, normally, teachers pay up to 2000 AZN for a job at her school. With competition for these jobs likely to be intense, the cost for a job will go up to 3000 AZN. Who knows how big that cost might grow in cities or in Baku?
Considering the sheer size of this layoff, it has tones of Georgia’s fight against corruption in the police force, where President Mikhail Saakashvili fired 30,000 officers in 2005. You can hear a fascinating recounting of that in this short NPR interview by Robert Seigel with the president of Georgia. Azerbaijan’s creating this class of new teachers would be a phenomenal way to combat corruption in the education system, if the operation was coupled with serious training and anti-corruption measures. Unfortunately, it looks like no sort of program to do that is appearing alongside this new teacher hiring spree.