Half of Turkey’s secondary schools don’t even have a gym
Answering a parliamentary question from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Fethi Gürer, Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz stated that out of 6,857 secondary schools in Turkey, 6,280 have a physical education teacher. In other words, in 577 secondary schools there is no physical education teacher.
Worse, only 3,713 secondary schools have a gym. In other words, almost half of the schools in Turkey have no gym.
This is a terrible situation. Especially in today’s Turkey, where kids are grown in apartment buildings, depriving them of physical activity at school is not good for a country that wants to reach the “developed countries” category.
Physical education classes are more important than we realize. They allow children to express themselves with action. Instead of enclosing them in a classroom, they are able to live, act and learn. Physical education may be the class that most prepares children for life, helping them learn to be humans, to be well-behaved, and to express themselves.
As they are not acting on the directions of another person in the physical education class, they learn by living and doing, thus becoming humans and more well-socialized.
Physical activities make people interact with others. In physical education classes you can make children love the environment, for example, and teach them how to form relationships with other people. They learn to respect others through the games they play.
It also helps develop self-discipline. For example, obeying the rules of the game during physical education classes teaches children at a very young age to be ethical. Because children learn by experiencing, they can easily carry them to their daily lives.
Physical education provides such a sound foundation for the child, making it perhaps the most important instrument to raise democratic generations. If a child learns to be respectful of their opponents, before anything else, they will learn to accept the existence of others. The formation of a fair environment assures that democratic principles become a lifestyle.
It is therefore unacceptable for nearly 600 schools in this country to not have a physical education teacher. It is unacceptable that half of them do not even have a gym.
Contrary to popular belief, physical education classes are no just something that any teacher can handle. It requires expertise. Hasan Kasap, a retired academic from the Marmara University, said this was our biggest problem.
“We regard physical education class as one that can be dealt with by giving a ball to children and letting them just play. Because the administrators themselves have not seen good examples, and because they think they can do it, they don’t see that physical education teachers are a necessity. Physical education is seen as something that anybody can teach, but actually it is a field that needs pedagogic expertise,” Kasap said.
In the developed world, the design of all schools starts with the gym, he added.
“We should be able to provide several sports options to children so that they are able to discover the athlete within them,” Kasap said.
The aim of physical education classes should not simply be to raise national or Olympic athletes. The aim is to provide the means for all children to have healthy bodies and healthy minds.
That is the right of every human and it is the duty of the state and all its institutions to provide this.
As for local governments, unfortunately they are busy only with forming football teams. They should instead be focused on providing sports services that would meet the rights of the people.