» 08/24/2013, 00.00
Turkish government promoting Islamic schools at the expense of secular education
Out of more than a million applicants to secular high schools, only 360,000 have been accepted for the 2013-2014 school year. This favours the Imam Hatips, religious high schools centred on Qur'anic and Islamic studies. For education advocate Unsal Yildiz, the government is trying "to impose an Islamist mindset" on new generations and on society.
(AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Turkish government is restricting access to secular
schools to the benefit of Hatips Imam, Islamic schools that focus on Qur'anic
studies. According to Unsal Yildiz, deputy chairman of Egitim-Sen, an
independent trade union representing teachers and educators from primary to
high school, Erdogan is using such schools to raise a new generation infused
with Islamic values and erase the country's secularist past.
More than a
took the placement test this year," Yildiz said. "This stands as a proof that
all these kids want to continue their education in 'academic high schools.'
Despite that, the Ministry of Education allowed only 363,872 students to do
that. This new system is forcing more than half of the students to continue
their education in vocational high schools [or] Imam Hatips. . . . Such a
forced imposition on students cannot be accepted."
For the Egitim-Sen
chairman, the ruling
party is more interested in raising an obedient new generation, and that is why
religious education has become a priority.
years, the Erdogan government has in fact shifted education funding towards
religious schools, improving their organisational and material endowment, at
the expense of other schools that are struggling even to find full-time
In a recent
statement, Education Minister Nabi Avci claimed that families prefer to send
their kids in growing numbers to religious education, but for Yildiz, this is not the direct result of personal choice but of government
The facts appear
to back his claim. In 2012 and 2013 for example, there were a total of
1,141 Imam Hatips. Of these schools, 42 were closed due to lack of student enrolment.
Of the remaining 1,099 schools, 78 never had a student, and 461 were at
half-occupancy. With such low enrolment, the authorities were
forced to students into these schools by reducing access to secular schools.
6 August, Environment
and Urban Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar laid out the Justice and Development
Party's views on the matter.
"This is a Muslim
country," he said. "Ninety-nine per cent of the population is Muslim. We have a
structure [i.e. Turkish society] that comes from history. Due to Turkey's
geographical placement, we don't have inventors. Therefore, we need to put our
focus in raising strong, well-educated and mid-level technical workers."
In ten years
of power, Erdogan has tried to reshape Turkish society, favouring an outlook on
life inspired by the country's Ottoman past. His government has done so in many
ways, from funding blockbuster movies that highlight great Ottoman figures to banning
alcohol or the use of lipstick by flight attendants on Turkish Airlines.
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