Turkish law prohibits foreign investment in education sector, 7.4 percent of which is made up of private schools. Sector representatives demand reciprocity rule and tight control for the market to open to foreign investors
Turkish students are seen with their tablet computers in a classroom. Some 500,000 students in the country go to private schools.
Turkey’s education sector is not open to foreign direct investors based on current regulations, while only limited rights are granted to certain groups educating the children of foreign nationals living in Turkey, according to a report issued by the Union of Chamber and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB).
However, foreign investors may still be invited for a 49 percent share in local schools if the remainder is supported financially by the Turkish government, the report said.
Non-Muslim minorities in Turkey are granted rights to establish schools within the framework and curriculum of the national education system, and there are also a number of private high schools and public universities that have been established due to inter-governmental agreements in the past.
However, two equity funds have managed to bypass the current regulations, when 50 percent stakes in private Doğa and Bahçeşehir schools were sold to investment funds Turkven and Carlyle respectively last year.
However, Necdet Doğanata, the president of the Turkey Education Assembly of TOBB and co-author of the report, sounded cautious about foreign investments in his replies to Daily News questions yesterday on the phone.
“No [foreign company] should be granted the opportunity to establish schools in Turkey unless there is a reciprocity [agreement between Turkey and the country of origin of the investor],” Doğanata said, adding, “If we cannot establish a university in Germany, why should we let them do it in Turkey.”
In addition, even reciprocity is not enough, and other cultural considerations must be taken into account, according to Doğanata. “English language books also infuse the English culture,” he said.
Turkish education businesses are ready to open schools in foreign countries, he said, citing Turkish schools in numerous foreign countries, which are known as “Fethullah Gülen schools.” However, European countries do not allow Turkish investments in this sector.
“I believe in integration. I have a dream that one day passports will vanish. If [foreign investors] are so sincere, let them come [to invest in the local education sector,” he said.
Doğanata is also the chairman of the Doğanata Educational Institutions and the president of the board of trustees at İzmir University.
Cem Gülan, who is the president of the Private Schools Union of Turkey, agrees with Doğanata that the issue is a sensitive one and reciprocity should be sought.
“[Allowing foreign firms to establish schools in Turkey] would be a political decision. I think the education system should be partially closed to foreign investors,” he told the Daily news yesterday on the phone.
“I am not against foreign capital in principal at all, but one should be very careful when it comes to the education sector. There must tight control,” he said.
Gülan is the vice president of the Turkey Education Assembly of TOBB and the founder of Private Doğan Private School.
The number of private schools increased to more than 3,000 last year from 1,788 in 2000, according to the report, citing the Ministry of Education data. Some 56,000 teachers were employed at these schools as of last year. The private sector share of overall education is 7.4 percent in Turkey, while the rate is 39.5 percent in South Korea, 19.5 percent in Mexico and 12.9 percent in Slovakia, according to OECD data.
GLOBAL BODY DEFENDS LOCAL TUTORING COURSES
ISTANBUL – Anatolia News Agency
Abolishing Turkey’s dershane system would violate global education rights, European Network of Educational Support (ENESCO) Chairman George Hagitegas said yesterday.
The dershane system refers to businesses offering private tutoring and preparatory courses, often aimed at university entrance exam preparation in Turkey.
Haigtegas’ comments came after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
said over the weekend that the government plans to eliminate the system in the 2013-2014 school year.
“Dershanes contribute to the ability of students who are at an economic disadvantage to receive better education. [To abolish dershanes] would leave those students in a more difficult situation. Above all, it would violate the principle of equality in education,” Hagitegas said.