Children's Encyclopedia - Educating for the Future
Above: Exxon Azerbaijan has targeted education as one of their main contributions to Azerbaijani society. Seven volumes of a Children's Encyclopedia in the new Azeri Latin script have been published and distributed to schools, libraries and refugee children.
During the 20th century, Azerbaijan changed its alphabet three times (from Arabic to Latin (late1920s), Latin to Cyrillic (1940), then Cyrillic to Latin 1991)), the consequences of which have spilled over into the 21st century. When Azerbaijan gained its independence in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of the earliest decisions made by Parliament was to revert to a modified Latin script similar to the one that the country had been using during the early Soviet period before Stalin imposed Cyrillic.
As was expected, the transition to Latin has been slow, very difficult and economically burdensome, and there have been serious consequences for the country's children. All of the sudden, there was a tremendous need for children's books and educational materials to be published in the new Azeri Latin script. See the entire issue of Azerbaijan International, "Language and Alphabet in Transition," AI 8.1, Spring 2000. SEARCH at AZER.com.
Above and below: The Children's Encyclopedia in the new Azeri Latin script published by Ayna Publishing House in Baku and sponsored by Exxon Azerbaijan.
Exxon Azerbaijan Operating Company has been at the forefront in helping to create materials to alleviate this problem. It is financing the publication of the first-ever Azeri Latin children's encyclopedia. The books have been developed by Azerbaijani writers, artists and scientists and published by the Ayna Publishing House in Baku.
Seven of the volumes have already been published, covering a wide range of subjects: "History: From the Past to the Future", "Nature: Things That We Do and Do Not Know", "Art: Unparalleled Treasures of Mankind" (with a section devoted to Azerbaijani artists), "Earth: Our Planet as it Is", "Ecology: Our World's Today and Tomorrow", "Sports: Strength and Beauty" and "The Human Being: The Biggest Miracle of the World".
In February 2001, refugee children in the Sabirabad, Saatli and Bilasuvar camps received Volumes 6 and 7, "Sports" and "Ecology", which were distributed by Exxon and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Refugee children in the regions already have the first five volumes, as do Baku schools and libraries. Exxon Azerbaijan also presented the encyclopedias as prizes at events such as the New Year celebrations held by the Kainat Youth Center.
Exxon Azerbaijan has supported numerous educational projects in Azerbaijan, with a special emphasis on opportunities for refugees and IDPs. The company's efforts have included scholarships for Azerbaijanis to study in the United States, donations of textbooks and educational materials to refugee children in the southern camps as well as the publication of the first-ever Azeri-English dictionary in the Azeri Latin script (1998). The reverse volume, English-Azeri, which is also being sponsored by ExxonMobil, should be available soon. See "Linguistic Milestones," AI 6.3, Autumn 1998, p. 67. SEARCH at AZER.com.
From Azerbaijan International (9.1) Spring 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2001. All rights reserved.