Turkey’s good schools and the rest
I initially decided that I would not write about Turkey’s education system as I had lost all my hope in it.
I had convinced myself. I told myself: “Whatever we write and whatever experts say, some people are determined to pursue their own agenda and do not care about children or reactions.” But on Nov. 19, when I saw the results of a competition by chance, I had to write about it.
The name of the competition was the Baltic Sea Philosophy Essay Event (BSPEE).
It was organized by the Finland branch of UNESCO’s Associated Schools Network, Finland Philosophy Teachers Association, and the Finland Philosophy Community, with the support of Norway High School Philosophy Association.
Philosophy teachers had selected the best two articles and sent them to the competition’s jury.
The jury evaluated each of the articles based on their relevance to the subject, the subject’s philosophical clarity, originality, their arguments’ persuasiveness, and consistency.
The results were announced on Nov. 16.
The gold medal was awarded to three articles, one of which was written by Kıvanç Sezer from Ankara’s ODTÜ Development Foundation High School.
Sezer, a grade 11 student, won the award alongside a Finnish and a Norwegian student.
The bronze medal was awarded to two Norwegian students and Doğa Efe Polat, a Turkish student from Istanbul’s Saint Joseph French High School.
The jury also gave the “Honorary Award” to 28 essays selected from the articles received.
Seven students from Turkey were among those who were granted the “Honorary Award.”
Philosophy is a difficult subject.
But the Education Ministry deemed philosophy unnecessary when they announced only a month ago that they would not include philosophy courses in the high school education system.
After a significant backlash, however, they backed down from this decision.
In the present situation, where philosophy is not encouraged, do you realize the importance of this success?
However, the result of the competition reveals another problem in our education system.
Apart from the student who entered the competition from Istanbul’s Kabataş High School, a public school, those who received the awards all came from private schools.
The Kabataş High School is one of the best schools in Turkey, which the Education Ministry calls a “good-quality school.”
When Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz made a distinction between schools as “good-quality” and “the rest,” everybody had reacted to it.
Unfortunately, there is a big “quality problem” in most state schools.
On top of that, the gap between those who study at “good-quality state schools,” private schools, and “the rest” is widening every day.
During my years at university, when I was reading “Capital” by Karl Marx, a businessman I knew told me: “Why do you bother reading this heavy book? Let me summarize it for you: There are rich and poor in capitalism. In communism there are only poor people.”
When I see these changes being made in the education system, I remember his words.
Because I worry that every school is to be downgraded to the same level, to the level of the “rest.”