In some ways - I almost feel sorry for the authorities at Lenkoran State University, where my student Parviz was expelled last month. (The expulsion was just made public last week.) The authorities may not have understood his character. He's a very tenacious guy - and very brave. Very few students would dare to take on their professors and their school administrators over the issue of bribery.
If school officials thought that expelling him from the university would make the issue go away, they are sadly mistaken. Parviz is petitioning parliament on the issue, and I don't think he's just going to be quiet about the issue. He shouldn't. After all, I firmly believe the facts are on his side. I had so many people complain to me about the corruption in the school system when I was teaching over there. Americans who taught on Fulbright Fellowships talked about it. The students, of course, complained. One of my students - who herself wanted to become a teacher - couldn't enter her profession because she couldn't pay the requisite bribes. The system is shot through with corruption - and everyone knows it.
Silence is the necessary accomplice to corruption. Maybe the matter of Parviz will open the proverbial can of worms. Who knows where it will send? After all, it's not just the education system that is corrupt - as anyone who knows Azerbaijan will tell you. Several years ago, Azerbaijan was ranked lower than Nigeria in the corruption index compiled by Transparency International. When I talked to Azerbaijanis, this corruption was a source of shame for many, but the problem seemed like it was insurmountable, as daunting as the creation of a real democracy.
Here's a link to a little news conference held a few days ago on the subject of Parviz's expulsion from the university.
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