Families seek medical aid to avoid early schooling

Families seek medical aid to avoid early schooling

Tarık Işık ANKARA / Radikal
Families seek medical aid to avoid early schooling

This photo shows parents lined up in front of a doctor’s office to get a medical report for their children that says they are too young to start school. Radikal photo, Mehmet Bilber

With two weeks remaining before first graders start school, many families are looking to obtain medical reports to avoid sending their 66 to 72 month old children to school, arguing that it is too early for their children to start formal schooling.

Schools open on Sept. 17 in Turkey, but the new education system (called “4+4+4,” which extends mandatory schooling to 12 years and divides that time into four years of primary school, four years of middle school, and four years of high school), which allows 66-month-olds to start school, will begin on Sept. 10 for first graders, because of the orientation program. While discussions are ongoing about the new education system, many families are trying to obtain medical reports for their children whose parents think school starts too early for them.

Dr. Fatih Ceylan, who is a child psychiatry specialist at the Dr. Sami Ulus Hospital in Ankara, said applications to receive medical reports have significantly increased in recent days. Ceylan said more than 75 percent of the children who took the examination have received reports declaring them “not ready for school.” Ceylan also highlighted that there were similar education systems in Europe, but that Turkey’s shift had been very sudden.

“Children who have an age difference of 1.5 years will be instructed in the same classroom. Besides, education in overcrowded classes will cause a number of problems,” he said.

Medical examinations

Ceylan said evaluations were being conducted by applying three different kinds of examinations. “In the physical examination, we test the child’s height, weight and his or her skill in using a pencil. In the mental examination we check for anxiety disorders, the effects of leaving the mother, shyness, excessive stress, and depression. In the intelligence examination, we check cognitive development by looking at comprehension ability. In some cases, we apply intelligence tests,” he said.

Families complained about the new education system, saying that their children are not yet out of babyhood and struggled to express themselves at such a young age. Some parents also said that their children could only use the bathroom and maintain personal hygiene with the help of their family.

Another concern for the families is whether there are sufficient teachers, and a number of parents claim that teachers have not been adequately trained for the new education system.