Education bill set to hit floor amid new debate in Turkey

Education bill set to hit floor amid new debate in Turkey

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Education bill set to hit floor amid new debate in Turkey

This photo shows students in front of the school building in Tellikaya neighborhood of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır. The number of girl student is well below avarage in the southeastern provinces despite campaigns to encourage parents to send their daughters to school, and many experts believe that to give the parents the option of home school with an education reform draft will cause the numbers drop further more. DHA photo

The university entry exam will be scrapped and that the thousands of private teaching centers that prepare students for the exam would be closed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.

“Those centers will either turn themselves into high schools or will be shut down. We do not want people to spend their scarce [financial] resources on that,” Erdoğan told reporters accompanying him on a flight to Seoul on the weekend.

Erdoğan also emphasized the need to boost vocational education, pointing to European countries, where he said up to 70 percent of the students attend such schools.

“We’ll allow organized industrial zones to open vocational schools. The kids will both study and do internship. They may earn money as well,” he said.

 The distance learning option in a controversial education reform bill has been designed for the girls of conservative families, Erdoğan said despite previous denials on the matter from officials.

“Particularly in the southeast, families refuse to send their daughters to school after they enter adolescence. Distance learning is for that. The [bill] would open the door for home study,” s. Officials had previously said the home study option after eight years of regular classes would be available only to limited groups like students with disabilities or prodigies.

The bill, expected to be put up for debate in Parliament tomorrow, has attracted pointed criticism on the grounds that it would undermine the schooling of girl.

Travel ban
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has imposed a travel ban on its lawmakers from tomorrow until April 5 to ensure full attendance in the parliamentary debate on the education bill.

“No one will leave Ankara. Parliament will be working even during nights until the laws are passed. Despite all the opposition’s obstructions, the people are awaiting the [education bill],” senior AKP deputy Oğuz Kağan Köksal said. The legislative drive will also target the adoption of a bill on trade unions, he added.

Ahead of his visit to Seoul, which will be followed by a trip to Tehran, Erdoğan urged his lawmakers to stand firm on the bill and ensure that it is approved in his absence.

Infuriated by the bill, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is scheduled to hold a rally at Ankara’s Tandoğan Square tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the head of Parliament’s Education Commission, Nabi Avci, has said the education bill will pave the way for the reopening of the secondary stage of foreign-owned schools like Robert College or St. Benoit. Such schools would be allowed to hold their own exams to select students, he said.

The bill calls for three, four-year tiers of mandatory education, but has been criticized for permitting the introduction of vocational schooling – especially religious education – after four years, as well as the home study option after eight years. The exclusion of preschool from the 12-year compulsory program has also been widely criticized.