Abant Platform Proposes Mother Tongue Education


Date posted: March 15, 2012

The Journal of Turkish Weekly  Thursday, 15 March 2012

The 26th Abant Platform, which brings together high-profile intellectuals, journalists, legal experts and politicians, concluded on Sunday (March 11th) with a recommendation that Turkey’s Constitution recognise the right to education in languages other than Turkish.

“Education in one’s mother tongue is an essential human right. The constitution should not have any restrictions on receiving an education in one’s mother tongue and it should recognise the right of education in different languages. In addition to this, provided that the official language of the country is taught and learned, everyone has the right to use his/her mother tongue in education,” the final declaration stated.

As a key demand of Turkey’s Kurdish population, education in languages other than Turkish is a particularly sensitive and politicised issue. Article 42 of the constitution prohibits the teaching of any language other than Turkish as a primary language in schools. While the government took some steps in the early 2000s towards allowing private Kurdish courses in line with the EU harmonisation process, many such courses faced restrictions and closed down.

Because multilingualism has been closely intertwined with the Kurdish issue, it has often been viewed as security threat, says Muge Ayan, an expert on language issues at Bilgi University in Istanbul. “It is fed by a fear [the state] will be divided,” she explained to SES Türkiye.

According to Ayan, another concern about education in languages other than Turkish is that it could lead to the polarisation of society based on the scenario that Turkish pupils would attend Turkish schools, while Kurdish pupils would receive education in Kurdish in separate schools.

She says this is based on a misconception by some segments that mother tongue education means education in only one language, whereas in reality it would mean multilingualism.

“Multilingual educational models can be designed by covering both the mother tongue of the pupil, the dominant language of the society [Turkish] and also an international language like English,” she said.

Another facet of mother tongue education is whether it would give special privileges to the Kurdish people, as the second largest ethnic group in the country.

However, according to Turgut Tarhanli, a law professor at Bilgi University, such a constitutional guarantee would not constitute a privilege to any specific group, but would be an opportunity to establish equality between them.

“In addition to this, the relevant article of the constitution should not precisely refer to any specific language, but instead would establish a basic principle on the issue,” Tarhanli told SES Türkiye, acknowledging that other social and cultural groups could also claim similar rights in this process.

Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy and prominent Kurdish writer Altan Tan told SES Türkiye that the use of languages other than Turkish both in educational and public spheres would be an important step towards the resolution of the Kurdish problem in Turkey.

As a platform that brings together the voices of those who want democracy and freedom in the country, Tan says the government should consider what the Abant Platform has to say.

“If the government had paid attention to the previous declarations of the Abant Platform, we would have already reached a different stage in the resolution of Kurdish problem,” Tan emphasised, noting that during the Platform’s previous meeting in 2008, the right to speak one’s native language and use it in teaching and education was considered an undisputed human right.

Gokhan Bacik, of Zirve University, agrees with Tan, adding that the Kurds who attended the Abant Platform did not oppose the idea of having Turkish as the primary language in education and public spheres. “All these people want is to use their native language alongside Turkish in order to make daily life easier,” he said.

Bacik underlines that without a constitutional guarantee for mother tongue education, the new constitution wouldn’t have legitimacy in the eyes of some segments of society. “It is dangerous to have only one language in education. The state should soften its stance and take an approach that unites people,” he told SES Türkiye.

Now, as the constitutional process continues, the state’s traditional red lines over the issue of mother tongue education may be shifting. Minister of National Education Omer Dincer went so far as to say that Kurdish might become an optional language in schools.

“If you are establishing a flexible system, why can’t we provide our Kurdish citizens with courses in Kurdish just like we are providing pupils with German or English courses?” he said on TRT television on March 12th.

Source: The Journal of Turkish Weekly (JTW) http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/132519/abant-platform-proposes-mother-tongue-education-.html

JTW is a publication of International Strategic Research Organization 

The Abant Platform is an independent think tank that takes its name from Lake Abant in the province of Bolu, the location of its first meeting. It is one of the most well-known programs of the GYV, which was established in 1994. Its mission and work were inspired by the GYV’s honorary president, Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.


Related News

No return from democracy, Zaman editor Dumanlı says under detention

Ekrem Dumanlı, the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s most circulated paper, the Zaman daily, emphasized his strong belief in democracy on the third day of his detention in an unprecedented government-backed police crackdown.

Gülen’s speech broadcast live for first time after website banned

A speech by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania in self-imposed exile, was broadcast live on YouTube and a number of stations for the first time on Sunday, after Turkey’s state-controlled Internet watchdog blocked access to herkul.org, a website that previously was used to broadcast his speeches.

Foes on the Run as Erdogan Makes Power Personal

Members of the Gulen religious movement insist they are innocent of plotting against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, but he has chased them into the shadows, and they fear for their lives and livelihoods. At the same time, Mr. Erdogan has increasingly made himself the face of Turkey’s state, and now he is seeking more authority to rule.

13 recommendations to MGK secretary for inclusion in ‘Red Book’

The president pays attention to the current National Security Council (MGK). He is determined to declare Hizmet a terror organization. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is not interested in the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Kobani, Syria, the approximately 3 million refugees and the murder of 40 people in violent protests. His only concern is Hizmet. Given that the MGK is designed to be a place to discuss personal concerns, I, as a citizen, would like to raise some points of recommendation for the MGK secretary-general for possible inclusion on the agenda of the council.

What should we expect from 2015?

As you may know, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have been able to postpone the Kurdish settlement process they started in 2009 until after the 2015 elections.

Gülen: purge of public officials seems ‘arbitrary’

The Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who has inspired the popular civic and social Hizmet (Service) movement, has said that the reassignment of thousands of public officials from their posts without any disciplinary procedures following the Dec. 17, 2013 corruption scandal seems to have been conducted on an arbitrary basis.

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

‘Erdoğan to take action against Hizmet after restructuring judiciary’

Human rights group urges foreign gov’ts to ensure safety of Gülen followers

Torture appeared widespread after Turkey coup: UN expert

Government allegedly plots to blame Bingöl attacks on Hizmet movement

Unmasking Turkey’s most wanted man

How Turkey is emerging as a development partner in Africa

America Shouldn’t Give up Fethullah Gülen to Turkey

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News