Compulsory Ottoman language classes in high schools stirs debate

Compulsory Ottoman language classes in high schools stirs debate

Compulsory Ottoman language classes in high schools stirs debate A proposal to have Ottoman language courses included as part of compulsory curriculum for high school students has sparked a fresh debate about the Turkish government’s alleged bid to encourage a reinterpretation of history.

The National Education Council has agreed to send a proposal to introduce compulsory Ottoman language courses in high school education to a vote in its general assembly meeting. The approval of the proposal raised a debate over the necessity of Ottoman language courses in high schools, with some council members claiming the courses should be elective rather than compulsory.

The proposals will be voted for in the general assembly meeting and those accepted will be sent to the Education Ministry as official recommendations.

The Democratic Teachers Union made the proposal during the 19th annual meeting of the council, taking place in Antalya. The union members said many documents from the Ottoman era, including some inscriptions on gravestones, cannot be read today. Turkey switched from using the Perso-Arabic script to the Latin-based alphabet in 1928.

Eğitim-İş Union Secretary General Önder Yılmaz told the commission that Ottoman language courses should not compulsory, saying that students of science-focused high schools would not benefit from compulsory Ottoman language classes.

Other figures have questioned whether there are enough teachers in Turkey who could teach the Ottoman language in high schools.   

Prof. Mustafa Safran, an academic from Gazi University’s Education Faculty, said there is not a sufficient cadre in Turkey’s education faculties to provide the high schools Ottoman language teachers.

Veteran historian Professor İlber Ortaylı also said there were not enough teachers across the country to teach Ottoman. Ortaylı said that even the graduates of imam-hatip religious vocational schools are unable to learn Arabic and asked “How could they teach Ottoman in high school” with the current teacher cadre.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Sivas deputy Nursuna Memecan has similarly argued that it would be better to have the Ottoman language as an elective course, rather than a compulsory course. “I cannot understand how this course would contribute to our next generation’s race to keep up with the advancing technology in the world,” Memecan said.

Meanwhile, the council meeting in Antalya also agreed to increase security measures at schools by introducing metal detectors at the entrances and hiring private security guards for them.

It also approved a proposal to introduce religion courses to primary schools and kindergartens on Dec. 4, in another move that has prompted questions among parents and pedagogues in Turkey.