Gender-segregated classes like ‘relocating the furniture,’ Turkish principal says

Gender-segregated classes like ‘relocating the furniture,’ Turkish principal says

Gülseven Özkan – KONYA
Gender-segregated classes like ‘relocating the furniture,’ Turkish principal says The principal of a Central Anatolian high school who has become the subject of an investigation after he announced that some classes would be gender-segregated starting in the 2017-2018 school year has defended his proposal as no more than “relocating the furniture in a room.”

“It is not that of a big deal. If you shift all of the school system into male- or female-based classes, then that would only be possible with authorization from the ministry, the province, or governor’s office, but this is our internal matter. Think about it; it’s like relocating the furniture in your room, like the table. There is no need for a bylaw,” school principal Ömer Faruk Özarslan said. 

His announcement posted on Konya’s Konevi Anatolian High School’s website on June 11 triggered fury among the Turkish public, while a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also called on Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz to take action regarding the incident. 

Özarslan, however, said he was authorized to conduct such a project at the school, indicating that they removed the announcement from the website after the reactions and that the Education Ministry was waiting for an explanation on the matter.

“Such an action was undertaken in accordance with a decision coming from parents. We created two pilot classes at the beginning of the second period, one each for only male and female students. We saw that that was efficient, and we put such a system into practice as a result of demands from parents. Students are also demanding this. Sixty percent of the school population consists of girls. We should not look at the matter ideologically,” the principal told daily Hürriyet.

“In the past, there were also girls high schools, and believe me, the girls started to express themselves more freely. This is not an ideological implementation separate from education. Male students speak with each other using slang, and this affects female students psychologically and disturbs them,” Özarslan said. 

“Today, in all imam hatip high schools, the girls and boys are segregated. Why isn’t all hell breaking loose there?” Özarslan said, referring to Turkey’s religious vocational high schools. 

“Such a practice does not exist in the regulation on secondary education institutions, it is against the regulations,” an official from the Konya Education Directorate told Hürriyet. “An investigation has been launched into the incident. We have also launched an investigation into the class [pilot] opened last semester.”