Government to consult with all concerned parties on private prep schools, Turkish Deputy PM says
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
AA photoThe government will reevaluate its work on the controversial closure of private examination prep schools together with the related parties, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has said.
“The issue of the dershanes [private prep schools] has come onto the agenda. We have agreed to reevaluate this issue together with the related parties, while also discussing the issues that have been reflected wrongly in the public,” said Arınç, speaking at a press conference Nov. 18 in Ankara following the weekly Cabinet meeting.
“Our prime minister has given instructions upon the advice of our [education] minister. ‘You’ll meet with whoever has said anything [about the issue], see what [demands] can be met and then you’ll face the public with a certain mind,’ said [the prime minister],” he added. “I have respect for everyone’s criticism. We do not find it necessary to have any separate organ between our government and children and parents.”
Arınç also took the opportunity to praise the contribution of prep schools to the country’s education system, saying that he had also sent his children to them. However, he added that the conversion of prep schools into private schools was part of the government’s development plans.
“Turning prep schools into private schools in due course was in the 7th, 8th and 9th development plans of government … The need for prep schools came from unsuccessful students due to the inefficiencies in our education system in the past. Now, the proper education must be given by our schools and others should not have to give any additional education,” said the deputy prime minister.
He said the government believed the prep schools would no longer be a necessity in the new education system. “These prep schools can use their experience in becoming schools supported by the state. But we should not damage them, and in doing so harm students or teachers,” Arınç added.
No general amnesty on agenda
Meanwhile, responding to a question about a possible general amnesty following a speech in Diyarbakır over the weekend by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Arınç said no amnesty was currently on the agenda.
“A general amnesty is on nobody’s agenda today. The prime minister was drawing a perspective for the future in that speech. [He said] the restrictions must be removed, and that everyone must embrace each other and no one remain in prison or in the mountains,” he said.
Prime Minister Erdoğan had said on Nov. 16 that a “new process, a new climate, a new spring atmosphere is being experienced not only in Turkey but also in the region.”
Arınç said it was wrong to interpret Erdoğan’s speech as if it meant a general amnesty would be coming soon. “We are not the ones who will empty the prisons. There is a judicial system in Turkey,” he said.
The Deputy PM also touched on the recent rift between himself and Erdoğan, saying the two had settled their differences, which stemmed from the recent mixed-sex student housing controversy.
“We have discussed everything that was necessary. We are the kind of people who solve everything and continue on the path after that. We sacrifice ourselves if we have any word that damages our party or government. We discussed that very well with the prime minister and decided on what to do. Martin Luther King said, ‘I have a dream.’ We have such dreams for the new Turkey, and we see the bigger picture,” said Arınç.
The rift between Erdoğan and Arınç stemmed from Erdoğan’s remarks on student houses, after Erdoğan said on Nov. 5 that the government could interfere in private housing arrangements to prevent university students from living in mixed-sex accommodation.
Attempting to sooth the controversy one day later, Arınç said the government had no plans in place for students currently sharing mixed private houses, but this was later again contradicted by Erdoğan.