Income distribution and education in Turkey

Income distribution and education in Turkey

Is there anyone following the news in Turkey who is not worried about the country’s future and its economy in terms of income distribution? Specifically, is anyone not troubled by the government’s most recent decisions on the education system?

The latest study by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed that income distribution has continued to deteriorate over the last few years. Poverty continues for many while the share of the richest in the country’s resources continues to increase.

While the share of the richest 20 percent has kept increasing, the share of the lower income groups has decreased. When we look from the perspective of income per capita, the income of the top 20 has increased while the income of the next two groups has decreased by around 20 percent. The income of the middle class, politically seen as being of crucial importance, has continued to decrease. Meanwhile, more than 14 percent of the total population are below the poverty line in Turkey. 

Of course, this situation will have social consequences. However much social welfare a government gives, or however much it tries to resort to other feelings in order to cover up this economic statement, there will be outcomes.

One of the most important recent news items in Turkey was cancelling the Transition from Primary to Secondary Education (TEOG) exams. Even more important was the way it was cancelled. Although officials have asked for a one-year transition period, and although the replacing system is still unclear, the TEOG exam system has been cancelled. Is not problematic to simply cancel the TEOG exam without first discussing what it could be replaced with?

You may say, “OK, I understand the relevance of income distribution, but what does the education system have to do with the economy?” But in my opinion, all this is news has a direct influence on the economy.

It is impossible for producers and consumers not to be affected by these hopeless statements. If you saw the news about changes in Turkey’s education system in a foreign newspaper, how do you think it will affect your decision to make a foreign direct investment? If the current trajectory in Turkey continues, it will be impossible to keep pace with the latest developments in technology. We will find it difficult to accommodate ourselves to the contemporary world, let alone developing the kind of labour force that will boost the country and create the democratic and free climate that is necessary for competition.

There are many important experts on the education system. The government never asks their opinion, but what these experts say is very clear: With this understanding, Turkey’s already low education level is falling further back. We are moving away from competing with the world and ignorance is increasing.

The truth revealed by the TÜİK figures is that - despite our insufficient education level - income per capita increases when education levels go up. It is very simple: When countries improve their education systems, their incomes increase.

Instead of this, are we aiming to become a country that is poorer and more ignorant?