Mother tongue education causes rift in the ruling party
Kuzu, the head of Parliament’s Constitution Commission, has argued that allowing education in one’s mother tongue would ‘divide the country.’ AA photoA recent regulation promised by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the right to education in one’s mother tongue has caused a rift within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Burhan Kuzu, an AKP legislator and the head of Parliament’s Constitution Commission, has argued that allowing education in one’s mother tongue would “divide the country.”
“Mother tongue education is not right, it will disturb the peace in the country,” Kuzu said in a televised interview late Oct. 2. “If division is good, let’s get divided.”
On Sept. 30, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced as part of a “democratization package” that private schools in Turkey would be allowed to provide education in languages other than Turkish, a move considered to be aimed at pleasing the Kurdish minority. However, after the announcement, Kurdish politicians insisted that education in one’s mother tongue should also be made available in public schools.
Kuzu said there were 18 ethnic groups in Turkey, and it would not be possible to provide text books and teachers in so many languages.
“How can we achieve peace then?” Kuzu asked. “Make Kurdish education mandatory in all schools, establish a university, will this ever end?”
Although Kuzu opposed the regulation, the move is widely supported within the AKP.
“There are some 50 countries all over the world providing mother tongue education and none of them have been divided,” Galip Ensarioğlu, who represents Diyarbakır in Parliament on the ranks of the AKP, told the Hüriyet Daily News yesterday. “Rights and democracy do not divide countries; on the contrary, they unite people. Fears are what have put this country in the current condition it is in; it is now time to put fears aside and support freedom.”
Ensarioğlu said nobody wanted to divide the country. “We will be equal citizens, and everybody will get their rights. No one should be worried, freedom will unite the country,” he said.
Education Minister Nabi Avcı has said that private schools could commence education in Kurdish and other languages by the next school year.
“Some courses in schools providing mother tongue education, just like the minority schools and the schools that educate in English or German, will be in Turkish,” he told reporters on Oct. 2. “Our main concern about mother tongue education is the need for teachers. Speaking a language and giving education in that language are not the same. we can overcome this problem and start the process in the 2014-2015 academic year.”
Avcı said the schools should find at least 12 students willing to get education in a specific language and then apply to the ministry for permission, with a sufficient quota of teachers and a suitable curriculum. He added that nation-wide exams could include questions in one’s mother tongue in the near future.