Discovering the European Azerbaijan School

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EAS is a school dedicated to creating an authentic learning community using its Azerbaijani setting and its global perspective.

BY KELLY CHAIB DE MARES

AZERI OBSERVER STAFF WRITER

As a cosmopolitan city, Baku has a considerable number of public and private schools offering a range of foreign and international curricula. Therefore, choosing the right school that meets the children’s and the family’s needs can be an exhaustive and overwhelming process. For sure, the search carried out by parents or caregivers will lead them to discover the European Azerbaijan School (EAS), an IB World private school authorized by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

EAS has grown from the original 95 students in 2012 to more than 800 students who currently attend one of its four divisions: an Early Learning Center for children aged 3-5, a primary school starting at the age of 6, the Middle School for ages between 10-15, and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) for students aged 16-18. The belief that drives this solid academic community is the power of individuals and their ability to achieve; that is why they incorporate the challenging IB programmes throughout the different courses.

For those readers unfamiliar with the subject, the IB was developed in Switzerland as an internationally recognized education programme to develop students intellectually, emotionally, and socially by promoting individual learning, critical thinking, cultural awareness, and service.

The IB covers the different school-age ranges. The Primary Years Programme develops caring and culturally aware children to become active participants in their learning. The Middle Years Programme develops students’ ability to connect classroom learning and the real world. And the most well-known and widespread IB programme, the IB Diploma, prepares them to excel in their future careers and lead challenging and rewarding lives.

EAS immerses its students in English as the language of instruction. The curriculum is developed and implemented by professional bi-lingual local teachers and native English-speaking teachers, providing the full range of IB programmes and monitoring the students’ language development, reinforcing when necessary. Local students study the Azerbaijani language, its literature, history and geography to provide them with an insight into the heritage of this beautiful country.

The school has additional offerings for non-Azerbaijani students; academic, social and cultural events to support their mother-tongue languages. Furthermore, Russian, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Korean are offered in acquisition courses depending on demand and the student’s language ability.

To guarantee that all students benefit from the challenging international curriculum, EAS has a support network of services to assist children’s social development, and their language and learning needs, alongside university counselling. In addition, solid pastoral leadership and social-emotional and community action programmes to develop “the whole child” are offered by the school.

Besides developing the curriculum, which ensures that every student becomes a high achiever, the school instils dynamic life skills and experiences. Cultural, social, art and sports clubs are organized during and after school hours taking into account students’ interests. The clubs offer are  broad range of activities, from traditional techniques of the region and the country, such as ebru, carpet weaving and Russian drama, to student government, Model United Nations and the European Youth Parliament.

Like every year, 2022 has a well-planned programme of activities suited to students’ needs and designed to promote their social, emotional and academic growth. Some exciting activities for developing teamwork skills and life-long friendships are the winter camp in February in Gabala for grades 3 to 9, the charity concert on 7th March, and the World Scholars Cup event bringing together students from across the city.

Nothing demonstrates the high quality of a school better than the achievements of its students. Last November, EAS students secured 1st, 2nd, 3rd places in the International Festival of Science and Technology in Tunisia, where more than 40 countries competed. Indeed, the Diploma Programme gains EAS graduates access to the highest standard of universities worldwide, with high-performance scholarships.

As a sample, two of its graduates received offers from prestigious universities thanks to their high DP scores in 2021, allowing them to choose the best institutions in their respective fields. One such student is studying Innovation and Technology at Vilnius Tech in Lithuania, and another Medicine at Charles University in Prague. These latest achievements are even more impressive considering that they were obtained in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic with its associated challenges.

As satisfied as the students are with EAS, so are the parents, who highly appreciate the teachers’ work and often send supporting letters. In the words of one parent, “I am happy that my two children studying at EAS are taught to acquire knowledge by treating them as individuals”.

EAS’s exponential growth and multiple achievements in a relatively short period result from teamwork that integrates professional teachers, a responsible administrative section, committed parents, dedicated students, a supportive Board of Trustees, and an innovative leader, Francesco Banchini, its CEO and Director. He is the author of the book “Convergent and Divergent Thinking” and an award-winning leader. He has led the school for the last three and a half years, winning the Golden Palm Awards for the school’s success in 2021.

Mr. Francesco Banchini

Undoubtedly, what makes this school stand out is its sense of community. As Francesco Banchini told The Azeri Observer, “improving the educational system in Azerbaijan is also among our goals, and we will spare no effort to support education in our hosting country. We also support international students who live in Azerbaijan and receive education here. We provide all the students with an opportunity to develop”.

Guided with such purpose, EAS developed the İşıq Toxumları project, which can be translated into English as “Seeds of Light”. After the war in Karabakh, EAS staff visited families who suffered in Barda and the Garayusifli villages, providing them with material and moral support. It was on this occasion when Francesco Banchini announced his initiative to offer free education to students and provide teacher development to these regions.

Executing the project, during the second half of the academic year in 2021, several EAS volunteer teachers conducted online classes for schoolchildren living in Barda and Aghdam, as well as working with their teachers to share educational strategies. Around 350 students attended these lessons. The benefit of Seeds of Light was well described by an Azerbaijani language and literature teacher at one of the Secondary schools of Aghdam: “The project increases our students’ self-confidence and allows us to explore the strategies that teachers from EAS are sharing with us”.

Continuing on this path, and seeking to share knowledge and educational strategies, Francesco Banchini led the establishment of the Caucasus and Central Asia IB Association, the first one in the region. The founding partners are the Nazarbayev Intellectual School Nur-Sultan of Kazakhstan and the European School of Georgia. The new institution has approval from IB headquarters.

The vision of the Association is to become an extensive learning community, building on the premise that “the best resources for teachers are one another”, as the Head of the International Baccalaureate Programmes at the European School of Georgia, commented to The Azeri Observer. Therefore, the parties are confident that their union will flourish, with other schools from Azerbaijan and the wider region.

The Association was launched at the Secondary premises of EAS, on December 10, 2021, as well as its first joint project, the Experiential Learning Conference. The event brought a large delegation from Kazakhstan, Georgia and international key speakers to share ideas on international education and new ways of learning by doing. “The initiative proves that we are not just committed to teaching but at the same time learning ourselves,” Francesco Banchini stated.

European Azerbaijan School hosts launch of first IB association in the region, as well as its first joint project, the Experiential Learning Conference in Baku on December 10, 2021.

Francesco Banchini’s initiatives are executed one after another. To advance the teaching profession, understanding and implementing the latest trends in the education of the 21st century, the school has acquired the educational platform CENTURY. This step makes EAS Azerbaijan’s pioneer in using an artificial intelligence-based teaching and learning platform in the educational system.

Parents and caregivers interested in giving their children the opportunity to develop in this encouraging environment should look forward to the opening of the admission process to students of all nationalities for the 2022 – 2023 school year. To ensure excellence, admission to EAS is on a competitive basis. Preschool groups and first-grade candidates are interviewed orally, in the language in which the student most freely expresses their opinion. For second grade and above, students are admitted by taking English and Mathematics exams; in addition, Azerbaijani language is required for Azerbaijanis. To find more information: https://www.eas.az/menu/admission

Both campuses are in Baku and worth a visit. They are equipped with modern and well-equipped science labs, top sports facilities including a swimming pool and gymnasium, a modern theatre, a fully equipped computer lab, music and art rooms, a spacious library and a large comfortable dining area.

The Early Training Center and the Primary School are located at 7C Hasan Majidov Street, Yasamal district. The secondary School campus operates at 1128 A. Abbaszadeh Street, Badamdar settlement. EAS will not only arrange a tour, but work with each family throughout the admission process. To arrange an appointment or for more information, contact Irada Heybatova in the Admissions office via telephone +99412 499 89 35/36/37 or e-mail irada.heybatova@eas.az.