POLITICS > Turkey’s step on education in mother tongues sets example for Europe: PM Erdoğan

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during the informal meeting of the OECD Education Ministers in Istanbul Oct. 2. AA photo

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during the informal meeting of the OECD Education Ministers in Istanbul Oct. 2. AA photo

Reforms that allow students to receive education in their mother tongue in private schools sets an example to follow for European countries, home to a large Turkish migrant community, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said. The new policy was unveiled as part of a much-anticipated democratization package announced earlier this week.

“Those people who contribute to the economy of the country they reside in by working and [turn an honest penny] for more than half of a century have become, to a great extent, permanently settled. However, a large part of those [Turkish] citizens have not been granted education in their mother tongue despite their great efforts and demands,” Erdoğan said during the informal meeting of the OECD Education Ministers in Istanbul Oct. 2.

Erdoğan stressed that measures foreseeing the provision of education in one’s mother tongue was included in the European Union acquis.

“So, this right has not been provided to [Turkish citizens] despite this falling within the EU acquis. So, we have made a step that will allow European countries to take an example from Turkey on this matter,” he said.

Although branded as an important step for the resolution in granting cultural rights to Kurds, the reform was described as “falling short” by the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

“This is another sort of discrimination. Poor Kurdish families will not be able to enroll their children in these private schools,” BDP’s co-chairwoman Gültan Kışanak said, demanding the measure to also apply to state schools.

Meanwhile, state school students have been able to select a Kurdish language course as an elective subject since September last year. However, schools often lack qualified teaching personnel and the first graduates from Kurdish language institutes are still awaiting their maiden appointments by the Education Ministry as Kurdish teachers.


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Hans-Joachim "Terrorist" Zierke

10/4/2013 8:51:33 PM

Brit in Turkey, yes, Latin was the Lingua Franca for all of the church's area of influence. Mass was also held in Latin, the unwashed masses didn't need to understand it. While you are right about this, it was nobody's mother tongue any longer. French then became the language of diplomacy (look at very old treaties). But schools didn't offer French for mother tongue speakers. It was for career. The 150-year-old German school in Den Haag was founded by the local German community.

Brit in Turkey

10/4/2013 12:48:01 PM

Hans-Joachim: History is not my best subject, but in the Middle Ages wasn't Latin common in Europe, and also French in Britain? These must have been taught somewhere. Perhaps the Vatican was first. Slightly off subject, but I have often pondered how the Apostles, for example Peter, travelled around the Med. and were apparently able to make themselves understood. Latin again perhaps?

Hans-Joachim "Terrorist" Zierke

10/4/2013 10:39:52 AM

mara mcglothin, education in mother tongue ONLY is of course a horrible idea, which would ruin the life of the kids. But bilingual schools seem to work quite well, especially in our border regions, where they have kids from both sides of the border. There are also one or two dozen bilingual schools German/Turkish (Example: "Europaschule Aziz Nesin" in Berlin), but many of them suffer from low interest by parents without Turkish background, making the objective harder to achieve.

Agnes Smith

10/3/2013 11:28:21 PM

He is just out of touch .... and his voters know no better. Such a shame for Turkiye.

Hans-Joachim "Terrorist" Zierke

10/3/2013 9:48:50 PM

Does anyone know, which one is the oldest bilingual school in EU territory? The school in Den Haag for German mother tongue opened in July 1863. Are there older ones?

Hans-Joachim "Terrorist" Zierke

10/3/2013 9:44:56 PM

The first multilingual private school in Germany opened in 1957. This isn't Turkey, there are no laws against certain languages or forbidden characters of the alphabet. Not today, not 50 years ago. You want a private school? Found it, run it. Within the quality standards of common education, of course - what we don't accept, is certain Christian fundamentalist sects attempting to operate schools for keeping their kids away from science.

Suhail Shafi

10/3/2013 9:20:07 PM

I find it ironic how many people accuse Mr Erdogan of taking Turkey ``backwards'' even when he tries to expand Kurdish rights when many of his predecessors tried to suppress them.

Brit in Turkey

10/3/2013 8:54:25 PM

Brian Irlanda: And ayran.

mara mcglothin

10/3/2013 8:19:46 PM

In the West, anyone is able to get education in mother tongue by banding together an opening a private school funded solely by the students who attend, BUT you are correct RED TAIL, segregation is already a problem and Turkish children would be harmed by this system, just like Kurdish children will be harmed by not mixing with other Turks.

Suhail Shafi

10/3/2013 4:50:10 PM

If ``multiculturalism'' and ``integration'' across Europe has been such a failure ( to quote Merkel ) one wonders why Turkey should be expected to European ``standards'' of minority rights. If Turks in Europe were to demand the right to education in their mother tongue over the threat of violence, Europeans would not tolerate it. By contrast, Kurdish rights in Turkey are in the process of being expanded.
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