Solving virtual problems in reality in Azerbaijan

Apr 23, 2012
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Difficult realities are sometimes hidden from the general public. This often happens in the virtual world.

In former Soviet countries, problems of development are most often connected with surprisingly simple issues that are not always open to outsiders. Those problems are not mentioned in reports of international organizations, media or in blogs.

The question of new media in Azerbaijani education is on this list. According to official reports the number of users is increasing, but content on the Internet is still just taking ant steps.

The reason is not connected to “cultural” stuff, as many try to show. This is mainly an issue of low financial spending. Internet providers don’t advertise their prices, outside of a few hand-size ads in the Baku subway. Media organizations are not involved in creating real money-making online projects. Few get grants to build websites for issues–issues in which a large part of society is not interested anyway. And those who do get money don’t do enough advertising to really get their message out.

Online media that are already sustainable are able to get very little funding since they are not known. This strange situation, when money is not available for the most active and successful organizations, kills the future of local content.

Another issue is university education in the field of new media. Many foreigners don’t know and will not understand that university professors sometimes aren’t paid enough to even cover the cost of transportation to and from the university. For example, the highest paid teachers of new media (as well as others) receive less than 5 euros per class. In best case scenarios, there are only four hours a week offered. So what kind of education can students expect on the views, democracy and sustainability of new technologies from such a low-paid teacher. Of course most of these teachers are volunteering. In addition, the majority of those who really know the issue don’t stay in universities. And the problem is not culture, low interest in teaching, or “generational views”, but payment. In a market economy everything has its own price. I don’t think that good education should cost so little.

In fact, the main problem of online media is money. But changing this situation is connected to solving other problems in society such as: corruption, monopolization, salaries, etc.

(Image courtesy Flickr user webtreats)

About the Author

Emin Huseynzade

A leading new media expert Emin Huseynzade has consulted and worked with the OSCE, OSI, Internews, EJC, Oxfam and other international organizations. He is actively involved in projects covering Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Central Asia. Follow him on Twitter: @eminhuseynzade
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