Nushabe Fatullayeva, a freelancer for RFE’s Azeri service has recently been recognized for her investigative reports by the German Technical Cooperation Society (GTZ) and the Open Society Institute (OSI). Both winning stories focused on corruption in the Azeri educational system.
OSI awarded Fatullayeva 3rd prize in a contest for Human Rights reporting. Fatullayeva's report had exposed the scandalous practices of a school for children with special mental needs in suburban Baku. To boost numbers and secure continued funding, the school had recruited underprivileged children that did not suffer from any disabilities. Subsequently, these children were limited in their academic development by attending a special needs facility.
The award came just a week after Fatullayeva was recognized by the German Technical Cooperation Society (GZT) for her report on bribes paid by Azeri students to government officials for permission to study abroad. This second place award came in a contest entitled "Right to Education: Azerbaijan's legislation and practice".
Corruption is a critical issue in Azerbaijan - according to Transparency International, Azerbaijan ranks 143 out of 180 countries on corruption. Radio Azadliq has a very popular web page dedicated to the topic, and Fatullayeva’s piece "Education by Bribe" was the most read feature on the Radio Azadliq website during the month of October.