Minister defends early education amid criticism

Minister defends early education amid criticism

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Minister defends early education amid criticism

The new education system (called ‘4+4+4,’ which extends mandatory schooling to 12 years and divides that time into three levels), which allows 66-month-olds to start school, will begin on Sept 10 for first graders because of the orientation program. Hürriyet photo

Turkey’s Education Minister Ömer Dinçer backpedaled yesterday on remarks he had made prior, telling CNN-Türk it is not true to say supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and some trade unions were directly related to those who opposed recent reforms in the educational system.

“I said this in a roundabout way. Also if children start to get an education at an early age it would be good for language education too. This is an important movement for our ‘Sorority Campaign,’” Dinçer said in a brief synopsis of his original response to the issue.

Only supporters of the PKK and secularists oppose the recent 4+4+4 reforms in education, Dinçer was quoted Sept. 3 as saying in an interview with daily Akşam’s İsmail Küçükkaya. Dinçer said members and supporters of the PKK opposed the new law because it meant an earlier education in Turkish for children.

“Those who say, ‘Don’t even get medical reports [to show that the children are not developmentally ready for school at 66 months]’ are the supporters of the PKK,” Dinçer said. “They want to stop us [from teaching children in Turkish]. And the secular people are upset over the reforms.”

During the televised interview with CNN-Türk, Dinçer also answered questions about religion courses for the primary school age children.

Recent 4+4+4 reform allows students to take a new type of religion lesson as an elective course, he explained, noting that they will choose their elective course on-line so neighborhood pressure will be avoided. According to the recent reform, the new age for children to begin school at is 66 months. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week said this decision was made following studies on the issue.

The deputy chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) parliamentary group Muharrem İnce asked yesterday whether Erdoğan would send his two grandchildren, who are respectively 60 and 69 months old, to school this year. “According to the law, both of the children should start school,” İnce said in a written statement that went on to ask whether Erdoğan would find “a special formula,” for not sending his grandchildren to school.

Earlier yesterday, CHP Deputy Chair Perihan Sarı harshly slammed education policies of the government, saying that the education system currently being built by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is “a system of social destruction.”

“The education system the AKP has created is a system of social destruction that divides the integrity of schooling, divides and tears the family unit into pieces, renders children unconfident, families concerned and blanks out the future of young teachers,” Sarı said in a written statement.