Parents seek TL 40,000 in damages for violation of students’ educational rights

İsmail Topçuoğlu is seeking TL 40,000 in damages from the Education Ministry for violating students' educational rights. (Photo: Cihan)
İsmail Topçuoğlu is seeking TL 40,000 in damages from the Education Ministry for violating students' educational rights. (Photo: Cihan)


Date posted: August 31, 2015

AYŞENUR PARILDAK / ANKARA

Parents İsmail and Seval Topçuoğlu are seeking TL 40,000 in damages from the Education Ministry for violating students’ educational rights by adopting a new regulation about dershanes (prep schools), claiming it aims to bypass a top court’s ruling to annul a controversial law to close down the schools.

The claimants said in their petition recently submitted to the Ankara Provincial Directorate for National Education, “Benefiting from the education services provided by private enterprises is part of the educational rights guaranteed in Article 42 of the Constitution.” They also emphasized that students’ parents have the freedom to choose where their children are to be educated and neither the government nor any other powers can restrict that right.

The parents say they will also file a criminal complaint with the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office over the Ministry of Education not implementing the top court’s ruling on prep schools.

Mehmet Kasap, a lawyer representing the Pak Education and Science Employees Union (Pak Eğitim-İş), told Today’s Zaman on Monday: “In the event that the dershane issue cannot be solved locally, we will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights [ECtHR] for both violating educational rights and for not implementing the top court’s ruling. Our country [government] will then have to pay millions in compensation.”

The Constitutional Court on July 13 annulled a controversial law that ordered the closure or conversion of all prep schools to ordinary schools by Sept. 1 with a majority vote of 12-to-five. Soon after the ruling, Ministry of Education officials made statements that the continued operation of prep schools is still not legally possible because of a new ministry regulation in which all the articles related to the establishment of prep schools were eliminated.

Speaking to the press on Aug. 7, Education Minister Nabi Avcı announced that current prep schools can continue to operate under a new name and offer “private educational courses” if they meet the requirements stated in the regulation.

Giving details about the operation of those new private educational courses, Avcı said: “The classroom size for those private educational courses that will provide education in three groups of science [math, science and social sciences] must not exceed 16. Every student will attend those courses based on their age group. Those prep courses that have not yet applied to convert to actual high schools will have to apply [for the conversion courses] before Sept. 1.”

He also said prep schools will need a new license from the ministry in order to be able to offer these private educational courses. A number of educators regard this as the government’s attempt to prevent Gülen-inspired prep schools from operating.

The law ordering the closure of dershanes was widely seen as part of the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) witch hunt against the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, a civil society initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen that focuses on education and interfaith dialogue. Gülen became the target of the AK Party following the eruption of a corruption scandal in December 2013 in which senior government members were implicated. Then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the movement of masterminding the probe in an attempt to topple the government and has since targeted those who are inspired by Gülen’s ideas.

The law ordering the closure of dershanes was widely seen as part of the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) witch hunt against the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, a civil society initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen that focuses on education and interfaith dialogue. Gülen became the target of the AK Party following the eruption of a corruption scandal in December 2013 in which senior government members were implicated. Then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the movement of masterminding the probe to topple the government and has since targeted those who are inspired by Gülen’s ideas.

Source: Today's Zaman , August 31, 2015


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