The educational system is extensive and illiteracy is practically unknown. In 1995, the adult illiteracy rate was estimated at 0.4% (males, 0.3%; females, 0.5%). The usual language of instruction is Azerbaijani, although Russian, Armenian, and Georgian are also offered by some schools. In 1997 primary schools enrolled 719,013 students in 4,454 schools, with 35,514 teachers. In the same year, secondary schools enrolled 819,625 students taught by approximately 85,000 teachers. In 1998, the pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was reported as 19 to 1.
Russian is more commonly used at higher-level institutions, but this is slowly changing with a growing demand for the use of Azerbaijani. Education is free. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3.4% of GDP.
Azerbaijan's most important institutes of higher learning are the Azerbaijan Polytechnic Institute, located in Baku, with seven departments and an enrollment of 12,000 students; and the State University, also located at Baku and founded in 1919. It has an enrollment of over 15,000 students in 11 departments. Other institutions include the Medical University, Technological University, the Economic Institute, and the Oil and Chemistry Academy. In total, 15,929 teachers were employed and 115,116 students were enrolled in institutions of higher learning in 1997.
Baku is sometimes referred to as an "oil academy" because of its ongoing research in the areas of turbine drilling, cementation of oil wells, and the development of synthetic rubber from natural gas.