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POLITICS > Erdoğan vows to end ‘under-the-counter’ prep schools system, signals imminent draft

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The Turkish prime minister has confirmed that a draft bill on education was imminent. AA photo

The Turkish prime minister has confirmed that a draft bill on education was imminent. AA photo

The test prep schools system in Turkey should change as it favors “rich families in urban centers,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, making clear that the government will not back down from an extensive education reform.
 
During a live interview with the private broadcaster A Haber on Nov. 20, Erdoğan brushed aside the criticisms regarding reports that the government was seeking to close the private examination prep schools, affirming that they would “end the under-the-counter dershane institutions.”
 
While announcing that the new draft bill was set to be prepared for the next cabinet meeting, Erdoğan described the harsh reaction of the Islamic Scholar Fethullah Gülen’s Hizmet (Service) Movement against the move as “ugly.” He added that the change in the educational system had been on the government’s agenda for almost 10 years.
 
“The headlines given to newspapers even before the draft was submitted to us were very ugly. A headline describing a ‘night raid’ is not something that we [can easily accept]. There is nothing yet submitted to the Parliament. And this is not a new issue,” he said, reiterating the proposal already expressed by the education minister on converting the test prep institutions into private schools.
 
“If you have a surplus of teachers, send them to us. We employ them in public schools through only an interview [test]. You refuse this, then let’s give you land, cut-rate credits. Make you discounts on taxes and energy consumption prizes. Why are you so much against private schools and you want dershanes at any price?” Erdoğan asked.
 
Daily Zaman, which first reported the story, had compared the reform with military coups. Education Minister Nabi Avcı had already expressed his discomfort towards the Hizmet movement’s criticisms. Gülen’s movement operates a number of such institutions in Turkey, which Erdoğan evaluated as 25 percent of all dershanes during the live interview.
 
Erdoğan claimed that far from reducing the social gap between the uneducated, impoverished and rural segments of society, the dershanes served students who were already going to the best schools, favoring those with more means to prepare better themselves for the university entrance exams.
 
“If the dershanes are enough, so why do we need schools? Their fees vary between 2,000 and 20,000 liras [per year]. It may rise some more. Let’s say they enroll four students each. Now they even created VIP dershanes,” Erdoğan said, criticizing the increase in the number of the prep schools.
 
“You take students who have been educated in public schools, give them a little test technique teaching and then [claim the student’s success] when he wins a university place. Why can’t the poor go to these lessons? All those who benefit from them are the children of the rich,” he said.
 
Erdoğan also added that the reform would prevent students going to their schools on weekdays and to dershanes at weekends. “We don’t want our kids turn into competition horses. They should spend more time with their parents or relatives,” he said.
 
Amid the row about dershanes, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, a figure close to Gülen, has announced an upcoming visit to the United States although he said he would not meet with the Islamic scholar. “The current situation is not suitable for that in terms of the political dimension,” Arınç said, referring to the tension.  

November/21/2013

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Misses Ataturk

11/22/2013 1:33:27 PM

Thank you Brit in Turkey :) x

Çılgın Kanarya

11/22/2013 1:15:57 AM

"A headline describing a ‘night raid’ is not something that we can easily accept". Yes Tayyip, that kind of stinging, cut-throat criticism must really hurt your sensitivities! In the meantime, you just continue to label all your opponents as terrorists, drunkards, looters and rodents! We don't mind, because we're too intelligent to take you seriously anyway.

K M

11/21/2013 9:06:23 PM

what does under the counter even mean in this context? Anything sensible in Turkish, or is he making stuff up?

sam afg alokozai

11/21/2013 1:23:24 PM

a very bad decision by the government, if you want more private school, give incentives to investors like tax free, credit without interest, for new private schools instead of closing test-preparation schools, this is right that only riches attend these school, but in general it is turkey who benefit, ... very illogical and senseless decision,

Cem Ian Hanley

11/21/2013 12:56:00 PM

Look at a country that educates well and try to copy it. For yrs Turkish education ministries have failed to do anything but change the system every 2 years or so. Rich familise, like Erdogan's are desparate to get their kids to UK/USA for education. 98% of UK schools are public and provide education Turkish people can only dream of. Go there, look and copy. As for universities, in TR most are just an extension of high school with yet more overcrowded classes and endless multı choice tests.

Najam A. Najmi

11/21/2013 12:38:54 PM

To close the prep schools can be titled as an “ill-advised decision,” at best. Majority of Prep schools standards are much higher than those of the government schools. The excuses given to us so far bear no weight. While the prep schools are licensed, inspected for record keeping, nobody checks the educational standards. The inspectors are from the “ice age” where everything had to be hand written and archived in volumes. The rules are “no rules,” the inspectors decide the rule or make his own

Brit in Turkey

11/21/2013 12:18:21 PM

'The test prep schools system in Turkey should change as it favors “rich families in urban centers,”' This is an entirely Socialist viewpoint born out of envy. Why should parents not spend their money on their children rather than on holidays, a new car, etc. as so often is the case? My wife and I did it that way. Misses Ataturk: I feel sure you are doing your best for your girls and good luck to you and them.

Agnes Smith

11/21/2013 10:45:05 AM

Its about taxes and not education. So you cannot have one without the other. If he could have come up with an unflawed plan of how the education system will benefit, we could say OK Mr PM good choice. He just wants taxes from these institutions AND the last thing he wants is education of the 'so called' elite who have an open mind. Well PM what do you really want? Yes we know....

Agnes Smith

11/21/2013 10:31:13 AM

Students are bandits and terrorists and should have no say in their education/democratic rights. Parents are not consulted (unless to be told to have a minimum of 3 kids) - well who are they anyway, just the breeding herd. Next will be the old folk who poured their lives into Turkey and wondering what they did to deserve this madness. But at least they can go to an empty mosque to look forward to the perfect life beyond.

Misses Ataturk

11/21/2013 9:08:49 AM

Erdogan, did you ever once stop to think WHY parents send their kids to dershanes? Well, I'll tell you why.. it's because the basic state education is rubbish. I agree that the dershanes are way overpriced, & unfortunately we cannot afford to send our kids to them. If you improved the education, children wouldn't need them. Plus, spend our tax money to make MORE schools, not mosques!! I've said before, my girls do half a day at school because there are too little schools for the number of kids.
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