“Dalga” Youth Movement southern regional office head, “Janub Khabarlari” Newspaper correspondent Parviz Azimov alleges that he was kicked out of Lankeran State University due to an article entitled “Lankeran State University Corruption Scandal,” which was published in the 25 January 2009 edition of “Alma” Newspaper and later picked up by qaynar.info
and “Janub Khabarlari” Newspaper.
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety has translated this article into English to foster international dialogue and understanding about Azimov’s case.
LANKERAN STATE UNIVERSITY CORRUPTION SCANDAL
Taking into consideration the beginning of exam session in universities, we conducted a small investigation in Lankeran State University (LSU). The goal of our investigation was to determine if there is or isn’t bribery, if there is bribery to determine at what level it exists, and to determine the reasons that corruption occurs in educational institutions.
To learn the answers to the questions above, we obtained the opinions of teachers, students, university officials and representatives of relevant agencies.
Professor Mesud Mammedov: “Here all types of corruption can be encountered”
The first person who we learned the opinion of was LSU Professor Mesud Mammedov.
In Mammedov’s opinion, in Lankeran State University there is not just bribery, but all types of corruption, and he does not associate this only with the exam period.
– In LSU, bribes and other instances of corruption are encountered at other times, in addition to the exam period. To prove this, I can speak about an incident in which my colleagues and I exposed one of our fellow teachers. Me and two teachers that I once taught with at LSU, Rasul Abdulov and Mirzagha Mirzayev, presented evidence that a person in the LSU finance department misappropriated 32,000 USD, and signed relevant papers about this.
According to Mammedov, we spoke about this on numerous occasions to the country’s press, however the opposite of what he expected to happen occurred.
– To date I have written about 30 articles about cases of corruption. In the end what happened?! In a situation where I anticipated that university rector Asef Isganderov would be arrested, instead they bestowed on him the title Honored Science Servant. From this one could conclude that I slandered A. Isganderov. If this is so, why didn’t they arrest me?
M. Mammedov said that after this incident he decided not to write anything else about this for the press. Because in M. Mammedov’s opinion, if he writes several times more about this, they will give A. Isganderov the Honor title.
-I didn’t want to be the catalyst for this type of thing, so I decided not write about cases of corruption in LSU.
M. Mammedov’s response to question “Does the taking of bribes affect the salaries of teachers?” was this:
– In my opinion, no. Everything is based on a person’s moral upbringing. Any teacher that respects himself would not commit such an act.
The venerable professor met the question “Up to today has any student offered you a bribe, and if so, what kind of reaction did you give?” with a smile:
– Interesting question (laughs). However, I can say with certainty that to this day I have never encountered such a situation, because I did not create such conditions.
Note that Masud Mammedov has worked in Central Asia for many years, and returned to his native country Azerbaijan after the country gained its independence.
“Rector surrounds himself with relatives…”
We appealed to a person whose name was mentioned above, Psychology PhD. Candidate docent Rasul Abdulov, who was a dean at LSU.
Rasul teacher’s response to the question “Are there bribes at LSU?” was concrete:
– I think there is no need for this question. This is openly seen. Regarding reasons, I can say that, there are a variety of issues at the core. For example, if in an educational institution a rector gathers all of the people close to him, he is surrounded by all his relatives, and they are given various positions, indirectly this creates grounds for bribery. I note that when it is like this, difficulties occur in exposing corruption.
R. Abdulov says that if someone tries to expose an incidence of corruption, they blackmail this person.
According to R. Abdulov, LSU is known for its high level of corruption.
-In LSU, the amount of bribes is considerably large. Maybe, LSU can be the country’s “leader” university for this.
Regarding concrete facts, R. Abdulov said that he encountered these types of situations during the period that he worked.
-During the period I worked as dean there were situations like this, but our staff continuously struggled against this. I can say that there were some positive results. But now bribery is out in the open.
In Abdulov’s opinion, the size of teachers’ salaries is not the main factor in this issue:
– I repeat that the main reason for this is that the leadership does not properly execute its work or does not want to. For example, one can look at Educational Work Department Inspector Gorkhmaz Agayev.
Student Elmir Rustamov: “Before they would write a ‘3’ for 30 AZN, now it costs 50 AZN.”
Regarding the subject of this article, we spoke to several students studying at LSU and learned their opinions. Out of the 25 students that we appealed to, we could only learn the opinion of five. You probably understand their reasons. And in this case, the students’ opinions still did not coincide with each other.
In the opinion of LSU Business Work Organization faculty junior student Elmir Rustamov, in LSU there is bribery, and the main people to blame are the teachers.
– In LSU there is bribery, and on a very big scale. The main people to blame are the teachers, because today in the library there is not the necessary literature. Teachers only give the material necessary to prepare for the exam to students who give them money. If that is not the case, they do not provide any help.
In Elmir’s opinion, teachers do this intentionally, so students are forced to give bribes.
Elmir’s response to the question was “Have you to this day given a bribe?” was this:
– No, in LSU I did not give any bribe for an exam. I have never been interested in this.
Responding to our questions, Elmir Rustamov said that amount of money students give to receive a ‘3’ is increasing:
– If before teachers demanded 30 AZN from students for a ‘3’ now the price is 50 AZN.
“I would like to take this opportunity to request from everyone, that if we want to live together in this beautiful country, we must struggle against these types of situations,” said the junior student.
Elhan, a student who is studying Customs Work at LSU, said there is no corruption in his university:
– For four years I have been studying at LSU. For this period, I never gave a bribe, nor did I ever encounter such a situation. If some teacher says that there is bribery here, probably they themselves have received a bribe.
Our next respondent was a student in LSU named Shamkhal. According to Shamkhal, there are considerable cases of bribery in the university he studies at.
– I have witnessed a considerable number of instances of bribery. In my opinion, as some people have said, the main culprit is not the teacher. In these cases the students are also to blame.
Regarding the consequences of bribery, Shakhmal said that the result of this is that the university’s graduates cannot find work in the field in which they studied: “I agree with the slogan, ‘Bribery in Education, in corruption in the future.’”
Another student who answered our questions during the conduction of our research, Fagan Aliyev, said that from the day he came to the university he has encounters instances of bribery.
– Here I have been a witness to bribery since the first day I studied arrived. But now, now it is in a more repulsive form. The worst thing is that in an educational institution there are prices called “tases” for grades.
According to Fagan, whenever inflation occurs in the country or students stipends are increase, these “tases” increase.
Fagan, who believes that both teachers and students are main culprits in bribery that occurs during the exam process, said that if students were not inclined to do this, students would not takes bribes from them.
“Today there is a very weak struggle being carried out against bribery. This is just empty speculation. We must find the way to carry out this struggle,” said Fagan.
“If I took bribes I would not live in a rented home”
We learned the opinion of LSU Educational Work Department Inspector Gorkhmaz Agayev, who was previously mentioned, about what has been said.
According to G. Agayev, he has not concretely encountered any instance of bribery. The inspector’s response to students’ accusation was this:
– A should come to me and say concretely so-and-so teacher wants a bribe from me. Then we would take necessary measures against that teacher.
G. Agayev called the accusations directed at him by R. Abdulov slander:
– If I am a bribe-taker or one of the people that create conditions for this, having worked for 10 years in this position, I wouldn’t live in a rented home. R. Abdulov bought a house for himself after working as dean for one or two years.”
G. Agayev says that if Rasul teacher was not a bribe-taker, he would not have been dismissed from his position:
-R. Abdulov was removed from his position because he took money from students and wrote grades for them without the permission of the subject teacher.”
In the opinion of LSU Student Youth Organization Chairman Samir Salayev, there is bribery at LSU and measures are being taken against this.
– I have been studying in this university for four years and have been chairman of the university’s student youth organization for two years. I have not encountered a concrete case of bribery in LSU. But, if there is a struggle being conducted here today against bribery, this informs us that even if it is minimal, there are bribes.
According to S. Salayev, there are very strong measures being taken against corruption in LSU:
“For example, I point out the box for suggestions and concerns that was placed in the university last year.” Mr. Samir says that as a student organization they are constantly fighting against bribery:
– Because we know that if today there is bribery in educational institutions, this will make future generations unintelligent.
Not a single complaint to relevant organizations
In connection with this issue we contacted some organizations working in this field. The hotline, operating under the wing of the Republic of Azerbaijan Education Ministry, which is intended to defend the rights of students during exams, told us that during the 2009 exam period no students from LSU complained to them.
The Lankeran office of “Transparency-Azerbaijan,” which fights corruption, told us that they had not received any complaints.
“Janub Khabarlari” Newspaper correspondent