Controversy erupts on bill for education

Controversy erupts on bill for education

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet
Controversy erupts on bill for education

DHA photo

A new education reform bill is ill-conceived and would effectively make primary education two-tiered while also negatively affecting girls’ schooling, Turkey’s leading businesswoman said yesterday, urging lawmakers to instead focus on increasing the quality of education.

“The main goal should be to attain a well-educated, pluralist and libertarian society along with the process of democratization. It is questionable how the draft law presented to Parliament is going to serve these goals,” Turkish Industry & Business Association (TÜSİAD) leader Ümit Boyner said.

Reminding that the bill was prepared without outside help, she said the separation of primary education into two tiers and efforts to associate the second tier with “open learning,” could cause problems in girls’ schooling rates.

“This arrangement is also in contradiction with the policies of other countries of the European Union with regard to delaying vocational choices. The drawbacks of an arrangement that is going to push the age of apprenticeship down to 11 must also be taken into consideration,” she said.

The amount of vocational and technical training in middle school education has greatly increased in recent years, and the need to focus on the quality of education first has thus become apparent, Boyner added.

Parliament’s Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Commission has begun discussing the draft proposal presented by the group of deputy leaders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The draft proposes increasing the length of mandatory education in Turkey to 12 years while ending uninterrupted education by dividing it into three tiers, consisting of four years each.

“Can you provide just one negative example in relation to 15 years of the administration of eight years’ uninterrupted education?” said Engin Altay, a deputy from the main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP) from the Black Sea province of Sinop. There is not a single educator among the signatories of the proposal, he added.

Zuhal Topçu, an Ankara deputy from the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said the party had failed to understand the aims and goals of the proposal and had requested its withdrawal.

However, deputy AKP leader Nurettin Canikli said the main points in the proposal are related to increasing mandatory education to 12 years of formal open learning, abolishing the differences in coefficients used in university exams and putting education into tiers,. The proposal is expected to increase the rate of schooling, particularly with respect to girls, he added.