Impossible not talk about Turkey’s founding figures, says education minister

Impossible not talk about Turkey’s founding figures, says education minister

Impossible not talk about Turkey’s founding figures, says education minister Turkish Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz has responded to criticisms about the content of a new draft curriculum that has drawn reactions over its coverage of Turkey’s founding fathers, saying it was impossible not to talk about the figures in the new program.

Speaking at the Ankara Science High School on Jan. 20, Yılmaz said it was impossible not to talk about İsmet İnönü, the Turkish Republic’s second president and founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s right-hand man, in the curriculum. 

“Is it possible not to talk about İnönü while you talk about the First İnönü War, the Second İnönü War? You will talk about the Lausanne Treaty, a treaty that guaranteed this country’s independence, but you will not talk about İnönü, is that possible? What they say is not true,” said Yılmaz. 

İnönü also represented Turkey at the 1923 Lausanne Treaty that resulted in Allied powers recognizing Turkish sovereignty after its people fought the three-year Independence War. 

The draft curriculum, which was presented to the public on Jan. 13 by the ministry, has been criticized on many points, but especially on its coverage of Turkey’s founding fathers and its coverage of evolution theory, with opponents arguing that in the former the importance of the historic figures had been diminished and, in the latter, that the evolution chapter for senior biology high-school students had been lifted. 

“Three topics that everybody talks about are Kemalism, İnönü and the other is the theory of evolution. So apparently they do not have anything to say about the others [topics]. And this means that we did a very good job,” said Yılmaz. 

He also denied that teachers’ opinions were not solicited for the drafts, reiterating that the curriculum was still in its draft phase and that they expected people’s contributions and revisions.

“Please have a look at it. We say, let’s make this draft much better with your contributions,” said Yılmaz, adding it was all teachers who had prepared the initial draft. 

Announcing the program on its website, the ministry shared its renewed draft work for the curriculum that is expected to be implemented by the upcoming education year to begin in September 2017.

According to the plan, the online platform where the draft can be edited, will be open until Feb. 10 and will enable people to contribute and share their opinions for all classes except religion and morality classes. After soliciting comments that are expected to come from students, teachers, parents and education experts, a corresponding commission in the Education Ministry will re-evaluate the draft and finalize its work by Feb. 20. The process will then be followed by the writing of new textbooks.