The norm or discrimination?
There is a so-called ‘Russian sector’, in other words a group where classes are conducted in Russian, specifically in higher education institutions throughout Azerbaijan. Therefore, if one wishes to receive their higher education in the Russian language, it’s not a problem. However, in this case, a separate exam in Azerbaijani language must be taken prior to the entrance exams for higher education institutions.
This exam has never been too complicated – it’s not the IELTS or TOEFL. In previous years, one was required to give the correct answers to 7 out of 20 questions in order to pass the exam; this year it’s now 15 out of 20 questions. Also, now the exam has a ‘second round’: conducted on May 1 and June 12.
For Russian-speaking Bakuvians this is a day full of anxiety. There is still a surprising number of people in Baku who do without the state language and regard it as their sacred right. Each year, following the exam, several comments on social networks about the discrimination of the Russian-speaking population can be found , in addition to theories like ‘sifting out applicants on ethnic grounds.’ And certainly a comment like: “Why should a software specialist know the Azerbaijani language at all?’
We have asked the Russian-speaking Bakuvians, whether they know the official language and if not, whether that hinders their daily life; whether the exams were tough this year and whether they are necessary at all.
The very fact that we couldn’t find a single student who failed to pass the exam, shows just how simple it is.