Date posted: November 21, 2013
Speaking to a TV station on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) will not back down from its decision to close prep schools despite ongoing discussions of the matter.
He asserted that the initiative to close prep schools is not new, but dates back to an earlier period of AK Party rule as part of a broader plan to transform the once-dysfunctional education system.
Erdoğan’s statements came at a time when the whole country has been locked in a debate surrounding the closure of prep schools and its implications on the education system.
Private Courses Union (ÖZ-DE-BİR) founding President İbrahim Arıkan said he is against the closure of prep schools because he believes these courses help students avoid getting into bad habits, such as smoking and taking drugs, and the schools give students who could not get into university the opportunity to help them gain entrance the following year.
Talking about the results of a study conducted on education and prep schools in Japan, Arıkan said Japanese officials encourage the establishment of prep schools instead of closing them down.
He said Japanese officials told him: “What is bad about children being at an educational institution when they are not in school? When they are not there, they will be in the streets.”
Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Muharrem İnce warned that the closure of prep schools will lead to a growing demand for private courses and that it will only be wealthy families who will be able to benefit from this.
Speaking at a news conference in Parliament, İnce said there will be a need for prep schools as long as there is a difference in the quality of education offered in each region and students are made to take central examinations and hence need additional preparation for these exams.
Leader of the Grand Unity Party (BBP) Mustafa Destici said on Thursday that the prime minister has still not made a convincing explanation about why his government wants to close down prep schools.
“I listened to the education minister and the prime minister. They cannot explain to the nation why they want to shut down prep schools. It seems that the issue is not prep schools and there are other reasons involved,” he said.
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy group chairman İdris Baluken, who spoke at a news conference in Parliament on Thursday, said prep schools are the result of the insufficiency of the Turkish education system and that the prep schools issue should have been addressed with amendments that would radically change the education system.
Can Teymur, a representative from the İskenderun Christian Orthodox Church Foundation, also voiced his criticism about government plans to close down prep schools, highlighting the role of these schools in the students’ preparation for the central exams.
“I think prep schools are very important for students’ success,” he told Today’s Zaman.
An Alevi opinion leader, Necati Gündüz, said the existence of prep schools is the result of poor education offered at state schools.
“If you abolish these educational institutions, there will be illegitimate courses, and the state will not be able to get taxes from them. I think the decision to close these schools is politically motivated,” he said.
In the meantime, BDP Co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş struck a similar tone to the prime minister regarding the prep schools’ closure, saying that prep courses must be shut down.
Speaking in a televised interview aired on CNN Türk on Wednesday, Demirtaş said the closure is a political as well as commercial issue, casting doubts on the government’s desire but expressing his approval at shutting down prep schools.
He said the government should make education free and available to all citizens rather than coming up with an inadequate formulation in order to address the need for a better education system.
Source: Today's Zaman , November 21, 2013