The biggest portion of our stock of problems

The biggest portion of our stock of problems

Turkey is a country that prefers to postpone issues rather than solve them. Not that any of our problems have truly been solved, but those we sweep under the rug and tend to forget are many times worse than the ones we’ve solved.

We have a colossal stock of problems that have accumulated in this way. In this colossal stock, there is one precious member that has reached gigantic proportions because it has been pushed back for such a long time: Education.

An OECD report, issued last month, displayed the situation of this issue in a dramatic way. In 2000, under 10 percent of the 25-64 age population in Turkey were university graduates. In 2012, it was 17 percent. Yes, there is an almost two-fold increase, but Portugal had similar rates to us in 2000 and is now at 20 percent. A more striking example is Ireland: While 20 percent of its 25-64 age population in 2000 were university graduates, now this rate is 40 percent. All this while we are the ones boasting of having such a young population.

How about our high school graduate levels? In the same age group, less than 20 percent of our population are high school or equivalent graduates. Half of them are graduates of vocational schools. In Germany, almost 60 percent of this segment are high school graduates. An overwhelming majority of them are vocational school graduates. In South Korea, 40 percent of the population are high school graduates.

So, a significant portion of Turkey’s population does not have adequate education, and our country does not have the knowledge or skills required by the 21st century.

If we remember that those who are 64 today were born in 1950, then we can better understand that we have been accumulating our problem of not giving adequate education to the public since the 1950s.

When we delve into the details of the OECD data and review the duration of education of each age group, then the astonishing situation becomes even clearer. 

A negligence of at least 50 years

Of today’s 55-64 age group, 21 percent are high school graduates; in other words one in five.

This rate goes up a little for the 45-54 age group: 25 percent; in other words one in every four people. Between the ages 35 and 44, this rate is 32 percent, or roughly one in every three people.

What about the relatively young? Between the ages 25 and 34, it is 46 percent; less than half.

Let me give the figures for South Korea for the same age groups so that a comparison can be made. For the 55-64 group, it is 48 percent; for the 45-54 age group, it is 78 percent; for 35-44, it is 96 percent; and for those between 25 and 34, 98 percent are high school graduates.

It is not yet in the data, but we should have reached roughly 60 percent of high school graduates for the population between the ages 15 and 24,  those born between 1990 and 2000.

Those who were born in 2000 are now 14 years old. Of this generation, we will only succeed in making just over 70 percent high school graduates.

So, as you can see, the future may not be any brighter than today.