Millions of students head to school amid debate over removal of Turkish high school entrance exam
ANKARAMillions of students will head to school for the new education season amid a fresh debate over the removal of the Turkish high school entrance exam.
While the new semester is set to begin on Sept. 18, Turkey has been discussing the removal of the Transition from Primary to Secondary Education (TEOG) exam.
The issue was initially brought to the country’s agenda on Sept. 15, when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “he hopes TEOG will be abolished immediately,” while also stressing he found the practice wrong.
“Don’t we have shortcomings in the national education [system]? Yes, we do. We will overcome them. For example, I do not want TEOG anymore and I find it wrong. It needs to be removed,” Erdoğan told private broadcaster A Haber late on Sept. 15.
During a press briefing before his departure to the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 17, Erdoğan was asked for his comments on the exam and asked about which stage the removal process was at.
“There is no obstacle for its immediate removal. It is a very simple issue,” Erdoğan told journalists, as he added that he discussed the subject with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Sept. 16.
“It is possible for this step to be taken with our prime minister and minister friends immediately,” he also said.
Saying Yıldırım agreed with him on the issue, Erdoğan noted the abolishment of the exam will relieve all families and students.
“It will be to the point to direct our children to classes at their schools while removing this item from our agenda. The whole point regards what students will do when they finish middle school and go on to high school and the necessary steps to be taken,” he added.
During his speech, Erdoğan reiterated his previous comments on high schools making their own exams rather than a centralized system.
“Those exams can be carried out under the control of the Education Ministry,” he said.
Erdoğan also said “money is being poured” for private TEOG preparation courses.
“I hope we will save our students from this process called TEOG, which suppresses them and consumes money,” he added.
On Sept. 15, Erdoğan said parents send their children to courses in order to pass the TEOG exam.
“What do we need to do? First, we need to increase the level in schools. I also ordered this during my term as prime minister. Let’s give additional classes in some of our schools via the Education Ministry’s own teachers on the weekends. Let’s pay those teachers an amount of money in return,” he added.
“As the president of this country, I can tell my minister and prime minister once and it will be done [removed],” he said, while urging for the removal of TEOG to be carried out quickly.
“Let’s save this country from these [exams]. We are not primitive anymore. Those days are in the past. This country has gone through a lot. It is enough,” he added.
A day after Erdoğan’s remarks, Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz presented a report on the issue on Sept. 16 to Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım.
Meanwhile, nearly one million teachers and 17 million students will head to private and official schools on Sept. 18. The first semester will end on Jan. 19, 2018 and the semester break will last until Feb. 2, 2018.
The second semester is scheduled to start on Feb. 5, 2018 and will end on June 8, 2018.
Students starting first, fifth and ninth grades will start receiving education in accordance with the renewed curriculum.