Harvard graduate woman aids village schools in Türkiye
Ece Çelik- ISTANBUL
A young Turkish woman who returned to her homeland after completing her master’s degree at Harvard is rendering support to many village schools with the foundation she established to combat social inequality in education.
Participating in many projects during her education phase, Mine Ekinci decided to establish Village Schools Exchange Network (KODA), which supported 40,000 children, 4,500 teachers and 2,000 teacher candidates in five years.
Noting that “village schools stand at the center of social justice,” Ekinci stated that an educational model in which families and teachers cooperate can create a difference in terms of social injustice.
The project enables many teachers of village schools in some 17 cities to meet once a month to support each other and determine their training needs in the school.
With the support of the Education Ministry, the foundation helps to provide different training programs to teachers and conducts necessary training for those who will teach in village schools for the first time.
Within the protocol between the foundation and Education Ministry, guidelines are prepared for teachers in villages, while they also reach teacher candidates in educational faculties.
“I talked with two teachers, who were both from the eastern province of Muş. While one of them always thought about how she could get out of teaching at village school, the other taught all the women in the village to read and write,” she said, underlining the importance of a teacher’s willingness.
Ekinci also stated that aid to village schools should be systemized instead of randomly sending some items that are not used anymore and do not fit the needs of a village school.
“There are some encyclopedias that have never been read in the schools. A lot of shoes were sent to villages, but their sizes did not match the children’s. Even if these aids meet the needs to some extent, they do not fundamentally transform the system,” she explained.
Ekinci, who grew up in a village in the Marmara province of Yalova, “has always been aware of social injustice in education” as she studied on scholarship from high school education to earn a master’s degree.
After graduating from Robert College and Boğaziçi University, two of the country’s leading educational institutions, she started her master’s degree at Harvard University to study inequality of opportunity in education.
“As I was a promising student, I always studied at private schools on a scholarship. From a young age, I have always wanted to do something about society and justice,” she explained.
While studying at Robert, socio-economic differences had an influence on her as there were many children from rich families to lower economic classes.
“I met non-governmental organizations while I studied at Robert College,” she added.
Presently, Ekici is working to establish a center in the northeastern province of Bursa’s Orhaneli district. “We want to do all training programs here and make Orhaneli district exemplary in terms of village schools.”