How to fix the education system?
Unfortunately every year the quality of education in our beloved country sinks even deeper. I have written before, Turkey lags far behind in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores compared to countries with which it wants to compete. Now that there is a university in almost every city, there are more students than ever in Turkish history. But quantity does not guarantee quality. Those who can make it to university and somehow have graduated are most likely to be added to the already high jobless youth statistics. Turkey’s youth unemployment rate was at 18.50 percent in April and 21.50 percent last year. However, these numbers are not really showing the actual reality, because they don’t include the number of youth who gave up looking for jobs. If you just take a look at the local coffee houses, called “kahve” in Turkish, you will see many young people playing cards all day. And this is even after thousands of people were recruited into the police and the “neighborhood guard” units.
However, many youngsters can’t even make it to that point.
The results of the national university admission examination were announced recently. And the situation is very grim. The average rate of questions answered correctly was 16 out of 40. It was 5.6 out of 40 questions in the basic math section and 2.8 out of 20 in the basic science section. In the subject tests, the situation was even graver. The average of correct answers was 0.46 out of 14 in the physics section and 1.3 out of 13 in biology.
How can Turkey lead the region and the world in technology, economics, sciences and everything else if it cannot educate its youth properly?
If we want to move forward, we must fix the education system.
Do you remember the Fatih Project? It was a very ambitious digital transformation project aimed at redesigning the whole education system with technology.
It failed miserably.
It failed so badly that no one wants to talk about it anymore.
Now there are thousands of handheld devices waiting and rotting away in government depots, because the whole project was based on upgrading the hardware of the Turkish education system.
I wrote it several times that even though the Fatih project was a well-intended mega project, without the content and without the software, it was doomed to fail.
More than $7 billion were aimed to be spent in 2013. We are now in 2018 and things are only getting worse even though the hardware is much better now.
But we should not put ourselves down; we should not surrender to hopelessness.
I urge officials to let Turkish-run e-learning companies like Udemy and E-nocta to join forces and create an updated content for the Fatih project.
If we can provide our students with the right content and with the right educational tools, they will perform as well as their peers across the world.
Also we can learn about children’s inclinations better and quicker with the online classes. Not everybody is geared for university. Who knows, maybe some of the kids who performed poorly in the university entrance exam might create wonders if they were asked to make a robot. Or maybe we are missing out on great musicians, artists, writers, photographers, dancers, mechanics, athletes, cooks, and football players…
It is obvious that what we’ve been doing for the past decade is not working.
Let’s do something new.