Cram school bill harbinger of purges at Education Ministry

Cram school bill harbinger of purges at Education Ministry

Cram school bill harbinger of purges at Education Ministry

Students sit behind school desks during an test prep exam on Jan 4. AFP photo

A bill outlining the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) plan to “transform” private cram schools that prepare high school students for Turkey’s highly competitive university entrance exam has been submitted to the Parliament Speaker’s Office.

When the bill is recorded in the Official Gazette, cram schools will be closed down – or “transformed” as termed by the government – while the senior-level bureaucratic administration at the Education Ministry will entirely be changed, with the exception of the undersecretary. 

A number of official are set to lose their jobs with the changes, including the president and members of the Board of Education and Discipline (TTK), deputy undersecretaries, director generals, strategy development directors, group directors of construction and real property departments, and all of those with the title of “group director” – all of whom are based at the headquarters of the Education Ministry – as well as those who hold the title of “provincial directors” in all provincial bodies of the ministry
According to the bill, the terms for principals and deputy principals will be set at four years. Accordingly, principals and deputy principals who have been in office for four years or longer than four years on the date when the bill goes into effect will automatically be relieved of their duties.

Weeks before the launch of the Dec. 17, 2013, graft probe targeting the government, tension rose to a fever pitch between the government and the Gülen movement, after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced plans to abolish cram schools (dershane). The government responded to the graft scandal with a massive purge within the Police Department and the judiciary. 

Deadline for dersanes 

According to the bill, the deadline for the closure of all cram schools is Sept. 1, 2015. Cram schools that decide to convert themselves into private schools will be granted time until June 2018 to fulfill all required conditions for such transformation.

Around 50,000 teachers are currently employed at cram schools. Those who have worked at least six years at such schools as of July 1, 2015 will be able to take an oral examination by the Education Ministry without taking the Public Personnel Selection Examination (KPSS), as they already have the qualifications to serve as a teacher at public schools, according to the bill. Those who pass the oral examination will have the chance to be teachers at public institutions.