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TAHA AKYOL >Higher Education Board and science

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The number of students, teachers and schools in Turkey are growing, but the quality is gradually deteriorating. 

It is like the “bad money drives out good money” rule in economics.

Which one should I mention?

In a World Economic Forum (WEF) report, Turkey ranked 91 in 2008 in the international ranking for secondary education. In a 2016-2017 report that it published, it went down to 105th place.

According to the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) index, Iran has passed us in the ranking of scientific journals as of 2011.

The director of the Scholar Rescue Fund established by the Institute of International Education (IIE), Sarah Willcox, had said that 65 percent of applications to them had come from Turkey. The issue of “skilled brains going abroad” was a problem talked about a lot, but now it has become stories at news agencies.

I see the latest statements by Higher Education Board (YÖK) head Yekta Saraç as a ray of hope. 

“Big radical changes in higher education that are not very well thought out, sometimes have destructive effects,” he said. 

This statement is, in fact, a life rule. Not only in higher education but also in all areas, “big and radical” regulations can be destructive if they are done without being properly thought of. The removal of the Transition from Primary to Secondary Education (TEOG) exam would hopefully not lead to such a result.

Saraç said the big and radical changes will not be done in university entrance exams and that the changes will “not be of such that could affect the studying habits of our students.” And rightfully, he emphasizes that the systems “require stability.” He believes only “simplification will be done in the current system.”

“It is required to determine what is right for the society,” Saraç said.  

Yes, the system that is “right for the society” and policies are determined with researches; and the results of experiences are made firm through a scientific analysis.

In ideologies, on the other hand, all “truths” are already clear beforehand in the form of prejudices; this is why they are misleading.

First of all, what are basic sciences? The answer is physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics.

At the base of all other physical sciences and technological improvements, lie these sciences’ methods. But because they cannot provide an immediate employment to their graduates, these departments at universities fail at most times to fill up their quotas.

Before, I had touched upon Saraç’s precautions for these departments with a priority on quality. And now he is bringing a new implementation: For the department of basic sciences, “outstanding success classes” will be formed for students who get into their top three choices in university entrance exams.

“No interviews, only exam scores will be looked at,” Saraç stressed.  

This is very right, as interviews have unfortunately in our country turned into an opportunity of “favoring those who are from us.”

Classes will not have more than 30 students, enough scholarship will be provided, and academics from various universities will lecture them “to meet new different universities’ cultures.”

Pay attention to the concept of “different universities’ cultures!”

In our era, universities are becoming international. The most successful universities in the world are now those that are the most open to the world with their academics and students.

I have also underlined Saraç’s concept of “enlightened science person.” The science people who think beyond high technical information, generate ideas, and have a sense of responsibility…

Because, apart from “physical sciences,” we also very much need other social and human sciences, law, art, education, moral and ethical values.

September/25/2017

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