A neatly refurbished school in the village of Dygyah near the town of Lenkoran stands as a symbol of affluent times in Azerbaijan, fueled by the Caucasus country’s energy boom. One thing, however, hasn't changed: in a village where almost the entire population is Talysh, an Iranian-speaking minority group, all instruction in schools is in the official language, Azeri.
Officials estimate the number of Talysh in Azerbaijan at 70,000, but some experts say their numbers go as high as 500,000. Whatever the case, Talysh are heavily represented in the regions of Lenkoran, Astara and Lerik in the southeast of the country, with a significant number also living in the capital city of Baku. Yet the situation in schools in Talysh-majority areas is similar to that in Dygyah, where there is virtually no instruction in the Talysh language.
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