Deputy PM defends education reform
Bekir Bozdağ. AA photoThe government’s intention to introduce Koranic studies as an elective course may result in a decreased interest in imam-hatip schools, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said yesterday, adding that girls would wear the headscarf in such classes.
As Parliament continued to debate the controversial education reform bill, Bozdağ said the legislation would pave the way for religious education that Turkish schools were currently lacking.
“We know that people often send their children to imam-hatip schools to provide them with religious education, and not to make them imams. Therefore, if Koranic or other religious studies are introduced as an elective course, parents may decide not to send their children to imam-hatip schools,” Bozdağ said in an interview on the NTV television station.
Asked whether the introduction of Koranic classes, in which girls are required to cover their heads, would breach the ban on the headscarf in state schools, Bozdağ said that girls at imam-hatip schools already wore the headscarf. “No one is contesting their attire. There is no difference between the imam-hatip schools and the regular high-schools,” he said.
There is no need to mention the Koranic classes in the text of the bill, since drawing up the list of elective courses would be up to the Education Ministry afterwards, he said, dismissing a proposal to that effect by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) as a political “manipulation.”
The MHP’s Oktay Vural however insisted that his party would submit such a proposal at the debate. In a bid to counter the MHP move, the AKP was drafting up a proposal to mention “The Koran” and “The Life of the Prophet” as elective courses as the Hürriyet Daily News went to print.
Bozdağ also charged that the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) objections to the bill were a “camouflage” to its opposition to the re-opening of the secondary stage of the imam-hatip schools.
However, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu vowed that his party would continue to call people to street action in the future.
Justice and Development Party (AKP) is planning to have the bill passed by Parliament this week, in line with a call that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made before he embarked on a trip to South Korea and Iran last week.