Turkey shies away from legal measures to provide equal opportunity in education

Teachers from 30 various prep schools in İzmir province were pictured protesting the government’s decision in this Dec.2013 file photo.(Photo: Sunday's Zaman)
Teachers from 30 various prep schools in İzmir province were pictured protesting the government’s decision in this Dec.2013 file photo.(Photo: Sunday's Zaman)


Date posted: March 9, 2015

MELİH GÜNGÖR / ANKARA

The recent move to close down prep schools that serve to significantly boost equal opportunity in education may be seen as yet another failure to promote equality on the part of a government which has not yet ratified a UNESCO agreement to end discrimination in education.

A draft bill, addressing UNESCO’s Convention against Discrimination in Education, is still waiting to be approved by the Turkish Parliament. This legislation includes measures to address inequality and poverty on the basis of income distribution and its adverse effects on education. It was prepared by the government in 2009 and was opened to public discussion in 2010.

The convention also proposes to make educational opportunities equally available and to standardize the quality of the education system. All limitations on education are banned, including those which most commonly affect low-income populations.

There have been no concrete steps taken to formalize equality of education or to prohibit discrimination in Turkey, despite positive developments such as the proposed legislation which also mentions the induction of independent bodies to monitor schools and enforce standards. While formally adopting this legislation and imposing sanctions on the education system could be a turning point for the country, regulations have not yet been implemented, as UNESCO emphasized in a recent UN Human Rights Council report.

During the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Turkey’s record at the council, the Turkish delegation, led by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, failed to respond to many questions about discrimination and human rights put forth by UN member states, especially those asked by countries in the European Union.

The UPR is a forum for countries to discuss human rights issues, and many concerns were raised about human rights in Turkey. For almost a decade, many students, their families, teachers, schools and school administrators have been victims of discrimination at the hands of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The education system in Turkey has suffered a universal drop in quality. The AK Party’s policies have caused extensive, persistent problems in the system, disrupting it with what were apparently politically motivated and unplanned changes.

The AK Party insists on shutting down prep schools in spite of strong public resistance. Last October, the government introduced a bill that included amendments to Law No. 5580 on Private Educational Institutions and it was sent to the Parliament Speaker’s Office in February. Experts maintain that only a prep school education can resolve critical problems experienced by students in public schools. These private teaching institutions, known as dershanes, are considered by many to be invaluable as they allow children from poverty-stricken families to succeed in school. More than 4,000 prep schools around the country have played an important role in improving the quality of education and have helped underprivileged high school students earn high marks on university entrance exams.

Dershanes play significant role in combatting inequality in education

Speaking to Sunday’s Zaman, Sakine Esen Yılmaz, secretary-general of the Education Personnel Union (Eğitim-Sen), made clear that even if some children are underperforming in exams, families can’t cover the cost of private lessons and coaching. “Cash credits the government announced they would provide, ranging from TL 2,550 ($1,012) to TL 3,550 ($1,409) per student, do not provide enough support for the average family to send their children to private schools.” Yılmaz also emphasized that the only families to benefit from this incentive program are those who can already afford annual private school tuition, which ranges from TL 15,000 ($5,955) to TL 20,000 ($7,940).

In the South and Southeast, the faith-based Gülen movement, or Hizmet, administers a network of more than 500 educational establishments in order to discourage Kurdish children from joining the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) as militants, and to provide them with opportunities they might not otherwise receive. Still, only 25 percent of private schools, representing approximately 1,000 dershanes and employing about 20,000 people, are related with the Gülen movement, including a number of small and medium-sized pre-schools as well as prominent institutions that cater to older students.

Speaking with Sunday’s Zaman, Eyüp Kılcı, the vice president of the Güven Preparatory Schools Owners Association (GÜVENDER), said, “The extent of regional income inequality still strikes down the opportunity for equal education in Turkey.” Kılcı stressed that because of their affordable fees, dershanes are regarded by low-income families as the main provider of equal opportunities for education. Representatives from civil rights organizations state that, if not for these dershanes, students attending public schools in the region would likely earn significantly lower scores on university entrance exams, as public schools in the east are much less qualified than those in the west.

The attempt to shut down prep schools comes at a time when the Gülen movement is being subjected to a smear campaign by the government. Since graft allegations against then-Prime Minister Erdoğan and many high-ranking government officials first emerged when probes were made public on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, Erdoğan and his supporters have gone to great lengths to conceal their implication in the sweeping corruption scandal. As a part of this attempt, they have accused the Gülen movement of attempting to topple the government and have maligned affiliated institutions, including Bank Asya, the Zaman daily and preparatory schools.

Source: Today's Zaman , March 07, 2015


Related News

Çağlayan: TUSKON Trade Bridge soon to be global brand

Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said Tuesday that the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists’ (TUSKON) Turkey-World Trade Bridge summit, which opened its doors to visitors from around the world on Wednesday, is on its way to becoming a global brand as it gets better every year. Çağlayan said the event has been attracting larger crowds […]

Gülen appeals for steadfastness against gov’t ban on prep schools [in Turkey]

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen has asked his followers to be resolute and not yield to despair in the face of a government attempt to shut down private educational institutions [in Turkey] that assist students to prepare for high school and university admission examinations, which was interpreted as a major blow to the right to an education and to free enterprise in the EU-candidate country.

Buhari’s wife hails culture

The wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, has described as noble and fascinating the diversity in culture and languages in Nigeria. She spoke at the International Festival of Language and culture in Abuja organised by the First Surat Group of companies in collaboration with the Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA.

Opposition, diplomats slam gov’t attempt to shut down Turkish schools

The government’s attempts to shut down Turkish schools abroad which are affiliated with the Hizmet movement, inspired by the teachings of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, have been severely criticized by opposition members and diplomats.

Dismissed policeman detained while applying to post-coup rights commission

I.K., a former deputy police chief in Gaziantep’s Sehitkamil district who was dismissed in the government’s post-coup crackdown, was detained when he visited a local State of Emergency (OHAL) commission in Sivas to reclaim his rights.

Aydan Meydan from Bosna Sema School won the “Inspiring Educator Award”!

The final competition of the Google Science Fair 2015 was held on the 21st of September in Mountain View (California), in the main headquarters of Google Corporation. 20 projects of young scientists from all around the world were presented at this prestigious competition. The finalists represented 10 countries. According to the number of projects, they […]

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

Nigerian Turkish Foundation donates educational materials to Lagos schools

Turkish PM Erdoğan’s imagined enemies

Kazakh students win medals at international science fair

Kimse Yok Mu delivered aid to Arakan Muslims

Final Declaration of “Coexistence in Islamic Civilizations and Contemporary Reviews” Conference

Report: Turkey Mulling Attack On Fethullah Gulen

Turks and Egyptians tight-knit at Turkish Olympiads Egypt Finals

Copyright 2022 Hizmet News