Turkish Ambassador to Macedonia Tülin Betül Kara, has drawn ire following she made remarks last week that shocked the country about schools linked to the faith-based Gülen movement operating there, implying that they were raising students to be terrorists.
A Turkish state-run educational foundation has signed memorandums of understanding with 26 countries in Africa to take control of schools belonging to people from the faith-based Gülen movement. The Maarif Foundation is claimed to have been established to spread President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist ideology abroad.
The closure of Yavuz Selim schools isn’t just a blow for its students, but also for the state of education in Senegal, a country where about one-third of children remain out of school. The schools had a reputation for excellence, ranking for years among Senegal’s best. Students got top scores in national exams, and went on to study at international universities.
Turkey’s President Erdoğan has aimed at replacing the positive contributions of the schools opened by the Gülen movement in Africa to preventing clashes in countries, where there is Christian-Muslim tension, with radical Islamist rhetoric and thus will create conflict rather than dialogue in African countries, stated a report recently released.
The Islamabad High Court, while rejecting the petition filed by Turkey’s Maarif Foundation, decreed that there was no meaning in the foundation’s demand for inclusion in the case as it was out of the question for such foreign structures to find in themselves any right to take over the [Pak-Turk] schools in Pakistan.
Since the ill-intentioned Maarif Foundation was found by Erdoğan regime in wake of failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, just for aiming at taking over the successful schools operated by Turkish civic society, Gülen movement, the step has not been welcomed by the affected schools in Afghanistan.
The school administration believes that the action is taken to appease Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who believes that the school promotes and teaches his arch-rival and cleric Fetullah Gulen’s teachings. “We have gone through the school curriculum during our time and have not found them imparting any extremism ideology or anything that goes against the interests of Pakistan,” said one of the graduates.
Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani has agreed to hand over the Afghan-Turk schools, previously run by a pro-Gulen institution, to the Turkish Education Foundation which is a governmental institution. This step has, however, not been welcomed by the affected schools. Officials of the schools have warned that the move would lead to closing the schools and damage the quality of education.
Justice Aamer Farooq of the Islamabad High Court on Friday disposed of a petition filed by Pak-Turk Educational Foundation against the possible handover of its schools to another Turkish educational network, the Maarif Foundation.
Bilal, a parent, told media that the network consisted of 28 schools and colleges in 10 cities of the country with a staff strength of 1700 including 108 Turkish teachers, teaching around 12,000 students from pre-school to A level. Since 1995, he added, the schools have been giving quality education to Pakistani students with no political motivation or illegal activity.
“All the Turkish teachers and administrators have left Pakistan and the schools are being run by Pakistanis,” said one of the parents Syed Amir Abdullah. He added that the government still seemed hell bent on ruining these institutions by handing them over to an ‘infamous organisation’ which has no experience of running them.
Parents of students of Pak-Turk schools and colleges blasted the Pakistan government for handing over the education system to a Turkish nonprofit organization called Maarif Foundation. They said that the schools and colleges would suffer if handed-over to the “poorly-equipped and infamous” Maarif Foundation.