‘Cooperative schools’ move fuels religious, tongue row

‘Cooperative schools’ move fuels religious, tongue row

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Cooperative schools’ move fuels religious, tongue row

The Ministry of Customs and Trade has given its first approval to the establishment of cooperative schools, which is expected to fire another row on religious education. AA photo

The Ministry of Customs and Trade has given its first approval to the establishment of cooperative schools, which will supposedly fire another discussion in Turkey. According to a ministry official, any group of people who share the same values and views will have the opportunity to come together to establish a school, in which their children will be educated according to their will.

“Cooperative schools will have the National Education Ministry’s curriculum, but we aim to give people the opportunity to educate their children according to their own views and the value judgments in their own neighborhoods. If there is a 100 person-demand they can open a school by getting together, and thus provide their children with education complying with their own demands,” an official from the Ministry of Customs and Trade told the Hürriyet Daily News about the cooperative schools.

The authorities said the foundation of the first cooperative school had been laid, but they refrained from saying where. The Ministry of Customs and Trade said they were taking steps with the consent of the Education Ministry, although Education Ministry authorities told the Daily News that a statement would be made on the subject in the coming days.

The project may have been negotiated between the ministers before, but conditions may not be appropriate for cooperative schools yet, they said.

“The curriculum of schools founded by religious communities is already supervised by the Education Ministry, no one can break the rules established by the Education Ministry,” the official said after being asked about how religious schools established under the status of cooperative schools by could be taken under control.

No visa for education in native languages

“In recent years, Kurds, Circassians, Laz, and Georgians have demanded the right to receive education in their native languages. Kurds can gather and establish cooperative schools in the eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey,” the official said.

“The curriculum of Turkish Republic schools is clear. Everyone, including Kurds or others, can establish schools, but they cannot give the main education in their native language, because the official language of education is Turkish,” the official said.

“We want to represent a new model and provide new employment. More importantly, if 100 people get together and establish a school, they will be exempt from taxes. We aim to bring a breath of fresh air [to education] and develop an alternative to state and private schools,” the official said, adding that even the foreigners could establish schools in Turkey.

According to the official, the cooperative system is not known enough in Turkey and is only ever brought to the agenda when there is news of fraud to report.

“Thanks to this project, a new perspective on the notion of cooperatives will emerge in Turkey. The state will allocate land for cooperative schools and order the schools to be built within a specific period of time. School construction will be required to be finished within the given period,” the official said, adding that many appeals had been filed with the ministry about the issue.