Education Ministry calls for action against high schools protesting administrators
ISTANBULTurkey’s Education Ministry has sent a letter to provincial directorates for national education, urging action against high schools which have been raising their voices against “restrictive” high school adminstrations by issuing critical manifestoes.
“It is being understood that these manifestoes, which appeared in the press without including the names of students or their parents, were organized by some political circles and CSOs [civil society organizations] rather than by students or their families,” Education Ministry Undersecretary Yusuf Tekin said in the letter, arguing these schools’ reputations were being hurt as they were being manipulated for “political gain.”
Tekin added it was against the law to publish political manifestos using the corporate identities of schools without getting the approval of their students.
The intention was “provocative” and aimed to “exploit” the students, he stated, calling on provincial authorities to take action against persons involved in the aforementioned activities, while urging both parties to behave responsibly.
A wave of protests across Turkish high schools started after students at the prestigious Istanbul Erkek Lisesi turned their backs to their principal, Hikmet Konar, during his speech at this year’s graduation ceremony on June 4.
Konar was appointed to head the high school after a controversial change allowing the Education Ministry to directly appoint teachers, principals and school executives.
The legislative arrangement had given the Education Ministry authority to include schools on what it calls the “Project School” list, thus giving it more direct control.
The protest at Istanbul Erkek Lisesi was echoed by a number of prestigious institutions across the country, which started issuing manifestoes mostly criticizing “restrictive measures” applied by the administrations against social activities while sometimes citing a rise in “reactionism.”
The criticisms were slammed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a June 12 speech, during which he accused a group of unidentified provocateurs of trying to create discontent by fueling protests at high schools and universities.
Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has embraced the protesters, criticizing Erdoğan for “losing sleep” over high school manifestos.