Will technology save our education system?

Will technology save our education system?

There are different realities when it comes to education in Turkey. First of all, the money spent on education is rising fast. The Education Ministry is enjoying budgets that have never been seen before. Many technological investments have been made and many are waiting to be implemented.

The Movement of Enhancing Opportunities and Improving Technology, or FATİH, is among the most significant educational investments in Turkey. The FATİH Project calls for the “Smart Class” project to be put into practice in all schools around Turkey. With this project, 40,000 schools and nearly 600,000 classes will be equipped with the latest information technologies and turned into computerized education classes (Smart Class), thanks to the project. FATİH will cost approximately 3 billion Turkish Liras and will be completed within two years.

With a view to increasing quality in education and training so as to ensure equality in opportunities, the project aims to create an Internet infrastructure by donating laptops and projectors to 570,000 classes in elementary and secondary schools, as well as multi-purpose photocopiers to every school. Approximately 600,000 teachers serving in the schools will attend in-service training activities on the infrastructure of the equipment via face-to-face and distance-learning methods. In this process, educational e-contents will be created by harmonizing curriculums with information technology-supported education, while new e-books and educational objects will be prepared for each course.

The motto of FATİH is to conquer our tomorrow today – a militaristic reference to Mehmet the Conqueror (Fatih Sultan Mehmet) who conquered Istanbul in 1453.

New “intelligent” boards are replacing the old blackboards or whiteboards all over Turkey. These technological boards will be used just like an iPad. Furthermore, intelligent tablet computers are going to be given free of charge to each student. From then on, the students will not have to carry heavy school books anymore.

The aim of the e-book project is to transfer all books and supplementary materials to the electronic environment, free the student of the burden of carrying books and contribute to the national economy by replacing annual, costly book-publication processes by uploading data via e-books.

The project, prepared by EGITEK, which is affiliated with the Education Ministry, is still expanding, with the process of uploading books determined by the Board of Instruction and Discipline via the Internet.

This is are all very nice and good but I believe that technology is not what is missing in our classrooms. If it were, Turkey wouldn’t rank at the bottom of every international education list. We cannot teach our children as well as many other countries that have few technological capabilities.

Are students well prepared for future challenges? Can they analyze, reason and communicate effectively? Do they have the capacity to continue learning throughout life? The OECD Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, answers these questions and more through its surveys of 15-year-olds in the principal industrialized countries. Every three years, it assesses how far students near the end of compulsory education have acquired some of the knowledge and skills essential for full participation in society.

Turkey was ranked 41st out of 60 OECD members in 2010 in the PISA. The situation is even worse in mathematics, understanding an article and science. Turkey ranks third from last. It was the same in 2000 and 2004. It is obvious that the government hasn’t been able to make successful reforms. Something is missing in our education system and it is the government’s duty to find out. Technology will help but I believe that we need to do more