Is the FATİH project doomed to fail?
The readers of this column know that I really am keen on technology to be used in every possible way that can take mankind to a better level of being. Therefore, Turkey’s biggest ICT project FATİH, through which billions of dollars have changed hands, is one of the projects I’m watching very closely. In the last weeks I have written about impossible tender methods, how rules can be changed after meetings behind closed doors, and how our nation’s money is spent without much strategic thinking.
This week I will write about the results so far of the FATİH project. According to the government, FATİH will change everything in Turkey’s education system for the better. Many journalists wrote that after the FATİH project was implemented, all our classrooms would be equipped with high-end technology that would make our students the luckiest in the world, as well as the brightest. Unfortunately, you cannot see the same big name journalists or government authorities commenting on the results.
There are two outcomes to be achieved by the project. The first one is about the physical conditions of classrooms and the hardware such as intelligent boards and tablets. The second is about how children have improved themselves.
The latest research shows that the equipment procured for the project has not had any effect on children’s ability to understand, comprehend, solve problems or learn any subject better than without the equipment. It also shows that the children have not found it useful and the lesson content is not enough. In short, the FATİH project failed to meet expectation so far, in terms of educational progress.
To achieve results in hardware procurement would be considered the easiest in any type of technology project. Alas, the results of FATİH’s physical progress are even worse than its educational progress.
The number of schools whose Internet connection should have been renewed was 21,689 until this month. The number of schools whose Internet connection has improved is only 154 so far. The number of schools that should have been fitted with smart boards was also 21,689, but only 3,657 schools have the new boards so far. Again, 21,689 should have been given new servers and computers, but there are only 216 schools with the new servers now. There should have been 295,000 intelligent classrooms, but there are so far only 84,921 of them.
By all standards, so far, FATİH is well behind schedule and seems to be unmanageable.
If this project was a private business, then the managers and all responsible for such a failure would be forced to resign. But in our country things work differently. No one will be bothered by the fact that billions of tax dollars has been spent in vain.
I hope the government will somehow begin to manage the project better. I really would love to write a big success story about the FATİH project.