New school system starts amid criticism

New school system starts amid criticism

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
New school system starts amid criticism

Nearly 17 million students begin to implement the new education system today.

Turkey’s controversial new education system, known as “4+4+4,” which will extend mandatory schooling to 12 years divided into three levels, begins today amid protests.

Nearly 17 million students and 800,000 teachers will begin to implement the new education system, with more than 1.6 million 66-month-old children having already returned to school last week for “orientation.” The new education system has drawn intense reactions from opposition parties and the public since it was announced by the government in early 2012.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) spokesperson Haluk Koç said the new education law is designed to pay off old scores the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has with the republic.
“Education in Turkey is being derailed from being scientific and contemporary,” he said yesterday in Ankara.

The CHP had applied to the Constitutional Court to repeal the law, and the court will evaluate the law on Sept. 20.

Thousands of people gathered to stage a protest against the new system in Ankara on Sept. 15, and 14 people were detained in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır the same day for holding an unpermitted demonstration. Several protests were held in Izmir and Kırıkkale as well.

The government’s education reform is under fire from opposition parties and civic groups, mainly for the early introduction of vocational classes – as soon as students complete four years of basic education – and for allowing students to opt out of school in favor of home study after eight years. Critics say the new system could encourage child labor and undermine the schooling of girls. Some critics have indicated that students in Western countries are asked to choose vocational programs no earlier than the age of 16.

Classes such as “The Quran and the life of the Prophet Mohammed” have entered the secondary school curriculum as electives, enabling students to study these topics in class two hours a week. Female students will be allowed to cover their hair should they so desire during Quran courses.

Some classes, such as “human rights, citizenship and democracy” and “games and physical activities” are listed as compulsory classes. Foreign language classes will start from the second grade of primary school under the new system.

A fund of nearly 300 million Turkish Liras has been budgeted for the purchase of 187 million books which will be delivered to students free of charge.