Schools everywhere in Turkey transformed into imam schools

Schools everywhere in Turkey transformed into imam schools

After my column about the transforming of the regular teachers’ high school in the inner Aegean city of Afyon into a girls’ imam-hatip religious high school (the religious vocational high schools), readers’ mails poured in. Here is a selection of some:

“I have been reading about the Afyon imam school dilemma in your columns. You also interviewed the education minister. The minister talks ideologically when he says there was a high demand for an imam school. Well, what about those who want the school to be preserved as it is? Of course, it is not possible to please everybody, but they should not decide ideologically. If they cannot solve it, then they should ask the people. In other countries, even if one resident does not want it, they cannot do anything new. This is justice.” (Aslı Ö.)

I agree with you, but unfortunately we do not live in Switzerland or Germany. Not only in Afyon, but in other cities also, similar transformations are in question.

The school in Göztepe became an imam school

“If things were like what Education Minister Nabi Avcı told you, that schools were transformed into imam-hatip schools upon the high demand, then why was it decided that the Yeşilbahar Primary School, which is situated in Göztepe, very near Istanbul's Bağdat Street, should be transferred into an imam-hatip school? One can easily understand that there cannot possibly be such a demand in that region after strolling the avenue for about 10 minutes. There was quite a resistance against this school and signatures were collected.

"Actually, citizens wrote to columnist Yılmaz Özdil who lives nearby and begged him to write on this issue, but in vain. I am not a parent, but I live in the area and this bothers me a lot. Now, after reading the Afyon story, I am thinking maybe they want to transform those schools with good reputations into imam-hatip schools and maybe place their students from other regions in them." (Ayşe K.)

I also think the same. They do not open these decisions to discussion; they just decide. How many people in that area demand a girls’ imam-hatip school, and how many want the school to remain a teachers’ school?

And are those girls attending the imam school with their own will?

“You have spoken to Avcı. I would have wanted to ask him: Do the girls who are sent to an imam-hatip school ask for this? Do they attend these schools with their own free will? What are these girls’ future aims? What would they want to do after they graduate from the imam-hatip school? Which university do they want to attend? What is the percentage of the female graduates of these schools participating in the labor force? And what do they work as? Isn’t it sad that no research has been done on this field?" (Osman S.)

Aren’t you superb? These are fantastic questions. I am also curious how he will answer.

"Go on, provoke this. Maybe you will create a 'Gezi' [a reference to last summer’s major protests] in Afyon too!" (Osman D.)

Hah! I am not provoking anybody; however, you don’t seem to have any other thing to say but to take shelter in Gezi. Among all those mails, yours is the only negative one and I am publishing it. If there were other negative ones I would have selected them as well. That's all.