Education minister reveals plan to close teacher gap in Turkey’s east

Education minister reveals plan to close teacher gap in Turkey’s east

Education minister reveals plan to close teacher gap in Turkey’s east Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz has revealed a plan to meet the deficit in the number of teachers on duty in the Turkey’s eastern and southeastern provinces by compelling all contracted teachers to work in the region for at least eight years before being reappointed elsewhere. 

“At the moment we appoint a teacher to the southeast and almost 90 percent of them return within a year, citing an excuse or spouse-related issue,” Yılmaz said during a June 16 parliamentary debate on a draft bill for the establishment of the “Maarif Foundation,” tasked with providing education services in foreign countries.  

The Education Ministry currently has to reassign these teachers due to constitutional provisions on protecting the family and ensuring family unity, he added.

According to the new plan, contracted teachers will be assigned to schools in southeastern or eastern parts of the country on “fixed” terms, preventing them from being tenured before completing five years in their posts. 

The teachers will be tenured after five years but they will still not be able to work elsewhere. Instead, they will have to work another three years to ask for a reappointment. 

“If you don’t remove the contracted status, you may not be able to find a single teacher to work in the southeast,” Yılmaz said amid a renewed conflict between Turkey’s security forces and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

He also stressed that while there is a teacher deficit in some provinces, others - such as the eastern province of Tunceli and the capital Ankara - have an excessive number of teachers. 

Official figures announced by the minister suggest that there are currently some 921,133 tenured teachers in Turkey, in addition to some 46,133 contracted teachers. 

In his remarks, Yılmaz underlined that despite a number of teachers waiting to be appointed, it is currently impossible to do so as 94 percent of the positions are already taken. The remaining six percent, on the other hand, allows for reassignments based on teachers’ demands, he added. 

This year, education services ground to a halt in a number of southeastern Turkish towns during curfews imposed to conduct military operations against the PKK. 

The Education Ministry issued a circular to a number of schools in the southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır, Mardin, Hakkari and Şırnak to disregard the discontinuance of students. 

According to the circular, the students whose education was disrupted due to anti-terror operations will not be expected to attend at least two written examinations to pass a course, a prerequisite in current regulations. 

Instead, students’ grades from the first term will be used while summer courses will be organized to ensure they make up the difference with their peers.