Education Ministry to hear minorities’ appeal

Education Ministry to hear minorities’ appeal

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Education Ministry to hear minorities’ appeal

Karekin Barsamyan, the principal of an Armenian High School, says they have taken important steps to resolve past problems. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The Armenian community is preparing to present a report to the Turkish education minister, requesting certain modifications to the regulations at minority schools. 

In a report to Education Minister Ömer Dinçer, the Armenian community will demand the abolition of the practice of appointing Turkish deputy principals to minority schools. 

Yedikule Surp Pırgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation head Bedros Şirinoğlu is set to meet Dinçer in the upcoming days. According to the report, the community will demand the abolition of Turkish deputy principals being appointed to minority schools, which started being implemented during the 1970s. The report will also demand that the terms of offices of Turkish language and Turkish history teachers be determined by the schools themselves. 

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, Şirinoğlu said he had some concerns about the subject of the deputy principals, but that he was planning to prioritize the issue of teacher appointments at the presentation of the report. 

“Of course, the state should give citizens their rights, but this should be carried out with a proper attitude. I am planning to give priority to the issue of the teachers’ terms of office, and I believe we will get positive results [from the meeting],” he said.

‘We want to legalize the regulation’

Karekin Barsamyan, the elementary school principal of Private Pangalti (Mihitaryan) Armenian High School in Istanbul’s Nişantaşı neighborhood, said they had taken important steps to resolving the problems, as a result of a series of negotiations they had so far held with Ankara. 

Barsamyan said the difference of opinions between Armenian principals and Turkish deputy principals had caused some major problems in the past. “Actually, according to the current regulations, we are able to choose our own deputy principals and teachers. We only want to legalize this regulation,” he said. 

“The teachers’ current term of office is 5+1 years. We want this period to be reduced to one year and to select our own teachers according to performance,” Barsamyan said. 

Silva Kuyumcuyan, the principal of the Armenian School in Karaköy, also contributed to the report. “It is true that we are not currently experiencing the problems that we faced in past. We only demand equal citizenship. We demand that the regulations of other schools are practiced in our schools,” he said. 

In Istanbul, there are 14 elementary schools, five high schools and one kindergarten belonging to the Armenian community. There were 3,000 students registered in these schools during the last school year. 

Greeks face reciprocity problem

Another minority community in Turkey, the Greeks, will not claim such a demand, due to the reciprocity law based in the principles of the Lausanne Treaty, signed in 1923. 

“According to the reciprocity law, every implementation made here should correspond to an implementation made in Western Thrace [in Greece]. Therefore, this issue exceeds our capabilities, it can only be solved through direct Turkey-Greece negotiations,” said Y.A., the principal of a historic Greek school in Istanbul.

He was also more skeptical about their ability to appoint their own teachers according to their own criteria. “We have also had problems with Turkish deputy principals in previous years, but now the teachers are more democratic. Above all, if we appoint the teachers, who will pay their salaries? We already have financial difficulties,” Y.A. said.