Turkey’s draft curriculum receives suggestions on Atatürk, theory of evolution

Turkey’s draft curriculum receives suggestions on Atatürk, theory of evolution

Gamze Kolcu – ANKARA
Turkey’s draft curriculum receives suggestions on Atatürk, theory of evolution

A draft curriculum presented by Turkey’s Education Ministry has received a total of 184,042 suggestions, with the most complaints and suggestions coming regarding classes on Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, and the theory of evolution. 

The ministry shared its renewed draft work for the curriculum, which is expected to be implemented by the start of the new school year in September 2017.

Officials set up an online platform between Jan. 13 and Feb. 10 to solicit the views of the public on a total of 52 classes, apart from the religion and morality class.

After receiving recommendations from students, teachers, parents and education experts, a corresponding commission in the Education Ministry will re-evaluate the draft and finalize its work by Feb. 20. The process will then be followed by the writing of new textbooks.

Some 175,342 suggestions were sent to the ministry’s website and a total of 8,700 emails were sent to the institutional mail addresses of the ministry. Most of the people who made suggestions stressed that the theory of evolution should be taught in the fourth year in high school and that information on Atatürk should be increased in the books. 

The theory of evolution is an “archaic and decayed” theory, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş recently claimed, stirring debate. 

The Education Ministry on Jan. 13 published the draft national education curriculum to the public, after which it was seen that the evolution chapter had been lifted from senior biology high-school students’ lessons.  

The “Nutuk,” a speech delivered by Atatürk, should be taught to students, the suggestions also said. 

Several of the people who submitted their views said religion and morality courses should not be compulsory. 

A total of 33,648 suggestions were submitted for 11 classes in elementary school. Some 7,882 views were sent to the ministry regarding the human rights, citizenship and democracy class. Some 5,076 submissions were made for Turkish class, 3,621 for visual arts, 3,579 for social studies, 3,021 for science courses and 2,863 for mathematics.

The course which received the lowest number of suggestions was the traffic safety class with 499 views. 

Some 47,536 suggestions were sent to the ministry for 14 courses in middle school. The revolutionary history and Kemalism class received the highest number of suggestions at 12,799. Some 8,067 comments were submitted for social sciences, 4,553 for science classes and 3,477 for visual arts classes.

For 25 classes in high school, 94,158 suggestions were submitted to the ministry. The highest number of complaints and suggestions were made for history classes with 41,010 comments. Some 1,674 suggestions were made regarding the contemporary Turkish and world history class, in which the Turkish Republic’s second president, İsmet İnönü, was removed from lessons on World War II.

Some 15,743 suggestions were made regarding physics, 9,958 for biology and 4,467 for philosophy. The least number of suggestions were made for French, with 71 submissions, and traffic culture and first aid, with 90 views. 

The course commissions are expected to submit the suggestions they find appropriate to the ministry. The ministry will finalize the draft program by Feb. 23 and the process of writing the text books will begin afterwards. 

The draft drew harsh criticisms for its suggested coverage of a number of key topics for Turkish students, with classes on history, life sciences, Kemalism and positive sciences at the heart of the debates.

In science, many expressed concern about the lessened significance of evolutionary theory in biology classes.

Compulsory religion classes will be taught in such a way as to approach all religions equally while an approach that championed Sunni Islam will reportedly be eliminated in accordance with European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings, Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz said last week.

According to the curriculum, the changes are based on an ECHR ruling that said it was a violation of the freedom of belief for a state to inculcate one religion even if it is the belief that the majority of that country follows.