Finding the best schooling option in Azerbaijan can be a challenge for expat parents. While public schools in Azerbaijan offer a decent level of education, expats don’t usually send their children to local schools because of the language barrier. Expat parents often rather choose to enrol their children in an international school, opt for homeschooling, or send them to boarding school back home.
Public schools in Azerbaijan
Schooling in Azerbaijan is compulsory for children between six and 15 years old. The basic public education system is divided into three stages: primary, general secondary and full secondary. Primary school spans four years while general secondary school is similar to middle school, and spans five years. Students aged 15 to 16 attend full secondary school where they specialise in certain subject areas including technical subjects, humanities and natural sciences.
The school year in Azerbaijan runs from September to June.
The primary language of instruction is Azerbaijani. The use of Russian in schools has declined over the years though it may be offered as a second language.
Azerbaijan boasts high literacy rates and public schools are of an adequate standard but, as mentioned, the language barrier means expats don’t usually send their children to public schools in Azerbaijan.
Private schools in Azerbaijan
Numerous private schools are available in Azerbaijan. These schools have mostly been established with the support of international organisations and large corporations, with some following the local curriculum and others offering an international curriculum.
These schools are usually more expensive than public schools, but offer a more extensive range of extracurricular activities and a more personalised approach to education.
International schools in Azerbaijan
International schools in Azerbaijan offer a high standard of education. Expats should also expect to pay high tuition fees at these schools and should ensure that their expat relocation package caters adequately for this.
International schools in Azerbaijan don’t all follow the Azerbaijani school year, but may rather follow that of their home country.
All international schools have their own admission requirements and parents should contact the school directly for further information. Space at international schools may be limited so parents should plan well ahead of their arrival in Azerbaijan.
Nurseries in Azerbaijan
Enrolment in pre-school is not compulsory and relatively few Azerbaijani kids attend pre-school. Fortunately, expat parents can find various childcare and pre-school options in Azerbaijan, particularly if they are staying in Baku. Private nurseries are dotted around the capital city as well as daycare and early learning programmes which are part of larger private and international schools.
Homeschooling in Azerbaijan
Expat parents who wish to homeschool their children will be happy to know that Azerbaijan's legal system accepts this practice. Homeschooling offers parents an alternative to mainstream classrooms which may not suit every child or family. Public schools present language barriers while private and international school fees can be prohibitively expensive – homeschool provides an opportunity to balance the best of public and private education in terms of affordability, convenience and quality.
Parents should note that children may need to take an exam organised and invigilated by a representative for the Ministry of Education in order for their education and certification to be formally recognised in the country.
Special-needs education in Azerbaijan
While the government supports inclusive education and strives for equal access to schooling, on-the-ground services in special-needs education is limited in Azerbaijan. Parents often find that teachers do not have experience teaching children with disabilities and that schools lack acceptable facilities.
Some international schools make greater provisions, such as in specialised learning support, however, their services are not comprehensive. To find out if and how schools can meet individual needs, we recommend parents contact the schools directly or get advice from fellow expat parents.
Tutoring in Azerbaijan
Tutoring is one of the best ways to get settled in a new destination. New arrivals can hire a tutor to learn the Azerbaijani language and children can get extra support in specific subjects outside the classroom.
Thanks to a host of online portals, it’s easy to search for a tutor in Azerbaijan. Popular websites and private tutoring companies include Apprentus, TeacherOn and Private Tuition Club. Tutors found through these platforms mostly conduct online classes only – so parents can hire tutors from anywhere in the world. Networking through expat forums and with other families in Azerbaijan can also help new arrivals find a tutor, including tutors who offer in-person sessions.