NGO releases report on teachers’ role in building social peace in Turkey
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
The Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly has released a report named “The role of teachers in the building of social peace – How is the schooling system affected by the Kurdish issue?.” AA photoThe Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly (HCA) has released a report about the role of teachers and schools in the Kurdish peace process and the building of peace within society.
The report, named “The role of teachers in the building of social peace – How is the schooling system affected by the Kurdish issue?” analyzes how decades of clashes and violence within society have affected Turkey’s education environment and what kind of recommendations could be made to change it for the better.
For the preparation of the report, teachers across various fields working at elementary and middle schools, and prospective teachers who were studying at education faculties, were interviewed. The report consists of four chapters, touching upon approaches to peace and the relations between these approaches and education, as well as reflections on the Kurdish issue on Turkey’s education environment. The report also includes a chapter where a field study was conducted with teachers, school managers and parents, in which the teachers and parents’ views on the peace topic are shared.
The report states that teachers, who have an important role in ensuring a peaceful school environment, need to be supported.
“The books and their content, interpretation and their reception of what students read are processes that are then realized by way of teacher’s guidance. It is important to support teachers who may possess a critical role in peace building,” reads a part of the report.
The report emphasizes that there has been an increase in the analyses that prove Turkey’s education system to be monistic, discriminative, nationalistic, militaristic, sexist and conservative, and this discriminative mentality is almost at the same level in both the public and privates spheres, with the state’s assistance. Thus, the report states that it is difficult to pursue an analysis solely on the education system.
Two teachers, one being of Kurdish origin and the other Turkish, who work in Turkey’s northern province of Van, have shared their experiences on condition of anonymity.
“I am a bilingual geography teacher. I find it very hard to avoid saying the Kurdish names of the endemic flora,” said the teacher of Kurdish origin. “The child feels himself invaluable in an environment, where Turkish and Turkishness is being blessed.”
The teacher of Turkish origin said that students came across the Turkish language for the first time when they started school. “The problem is such: Kurdish is a language - do we appreciate its deserved value? Bilingual students are being supported in Europe, here they are not. I do not speak Kurdish but I have started learning it from my students,” said the teacher with Turkish origins.
The report was prepared under the project named “Supporting teachers as a player of the peace process,” which specifically aims at promoting the teaching abilities of educators, who work in hard social environments.