Girls’ hair, the timeless topic in Turkish education

Girls’ hair, the timeless topic in Turkish education

How come it turns out that everyone has so much to say about the heads of girls? This topic has been implanted so deep in people's minds that debate on it has not ended in years.

Now it is being debated whether 10-year-old girls should be allowed to wear the headscarf and what this freedom will lead to.

Currently, it is forbidden for girls to dye their hair or have it streaked at school. But they can wear the headscarf because it is a freedom. It is said that it is ultimately the family’s decision. I agree. But, as far as I can understand, it is now up to the state, not to the family, to decide whether or not girls can change their hair color. 

Are we surprised? No. For years, a significant part of the education system in Turkey has been built around the heads of girls. We can understand the political stance of education by looking at the hairstyles of female students in each era. Why should this trend change now?

When we were students, headscarves were banned, so was letting down your hair without tying it at the back in a pony tail. Every Monday morning while entering school and every Friday while leaving, one by one, we were strictly checked: Which style was our hair braided, tied, or combed in, were those light browns on our bangs the result of the hairdresser’s touch or of sun light?

In fact, nobody asked us on those Mondays or Fridays: “Which books have you read this week?" "Have you gone to a play, museum, exhibition or concert?" "Did you observe a physics of chemistry experiment?" "Have you traveled?" "Have you researched any additional information?" I guess whether our heads complied with the rules was more important.

The mentality is the same, and the topic is again being discussed as a very important issue: It is argued that the headscarf was being worn in imam hatip schools anyway; that some students wore it in regular high schools in religion classes anyway; that it was time to regulate this de facto situation, etc.

Shall I tell you another de facto situation that again occurs around young girls’ heads? In the past three years, 130,000 young girls have worn wedding veils on their heads. In other words, the family has the right to marry the 14-year-old girl to a 50-year-old man, but the state prohibits the same girl from having her hair streaked and going to school, even if her parents allow it.

Another “head” problem: In the past 10 years, murders of women have increased 1,400 percent. In other words, husbands, boyfriends, relatives, sometimes the brother, other times the father have put a bullet in the heads of these women. Then, there was no issue left to discuss whether the family or the state should decide if she wears a headscarf, ponytail or dyes her hair...

Some heads have to change, but not the heads of girls.

I went to one of this country’s good schools, but the state of education was pretty bad then. Now? It is perhaps even worse. That comes out of the OECD Student Assessment Program survey. Turkish students rank 40th among 65 countries in sciences, math and reading comprehension. 

This is the beginning of the end. Turkey will be able to produce very few scientists for years.

There are no inventions; no innovations. Industry is going backward. Unemployment is high, but industrialists cannot find qualified personnel. We cannot create any value. What are we going to do when the last precious urban plots are sold?

I do not care if female students dye their hair red, shave it, wear a headscarf, felt hat, or plastic bag. But because of the low quality of education, our future is at risk. There is a poor and underdeveloped darkness in the horizon, where uninformed and unskilled young masses are taking us.

In my opinion, Turkey’s most serious problem is illiteracy. We have to focus on changing this situation, ponder on “better and scientific education,” rather than details and social engineering. Otherwise, this head is going to explode in our hands!