We have hit rock bottom in education

We have hit rock bottom in education

The results of the first phase of the university entrance examination (YGS) were announced last weekend. This year, a total of 2,084,000 people took the YGS, including around 913,000 senior year high school students.    

It is the same almost each year: Just a little less than half of the applicants are those who will graduate from high school that year. The others are those who want to try their chances once more or university students who are not happy with their department or school and want to change. 

Even these numbers show lessons to be learned: If we satisfy those who have enrolled in universities, then the number of those taking the entrance exam, and thus the demand, can be lowered. 

The number of students who took the test this year and are graduating from high school is exactly 912,797. 

Let me repeat the sentence I write every year: If these 912,797 people represented “one person” and the YGS represented the high school graduation test, that person would not be able to graduate; that person would be made to repeat class. 

Well, this one person is the Education Ministry. This ministry we entrusted our children to for 12 years does not provide a good enough education for them to graduate high school but nevertheless, they join life as high school graduates.

This is not a new situation. This failure has been going on for years. With one difference: In the past, our high schools had less than half of this number of graduates because at least three out of 10 students who graduated from junior high would not continue on to high school. The loss was much higher before 8-year compulsory education began, especially for girls, most of who would not continue their education after elementary school. 

Whereas today, because of 12 years of compulsory education, our schooling rate is almost 100 percent and the number of graduates has reached close to 1 million. 

Maybe because the number of graduates has increased is why the number of students taking the YGS has increased. Maybe because the quality of education has fallen, the YGS success rate has steadily declined and hit bottom in the past few years. 

Hitting rock bottom was more visible first in math and science, but it is now quite apparent that our system has difficulty in teaching our children our mother tongue. They cannot comprehend what they have read and express themselves properly in their mother tongue. 

On average, high school senior students were able to answer only 19.31 of the 40 questions in Turkish. Out of the more than 2 million students who took the science test, almost 750,000 did not answer even one question correctly. In other words, out of three students who took the test, one of them received zero in science. Some 500,000 students answered maximum three questions correctly. This is more than half of all the participants. 

Imagine you are a teacher and you have 21 students in class. You make a test of 40 questions and 12 of your students can only answer three questions correctly. Would you blame the students or yourself? Here, the Education Ministry plays the role of the teacher.

In math, almost half of the students who took the test answered maximum three questions correctly. High school seniors on average answered 7.9 questions out of 40 questions correctly.

In Turkish and in social sciences, majority of students are in the 10 to 20 correct answer block. The average of correct answers in social sciences among high school seniors is 10.45. 

However, despite these results, the Student Selection and Placement Center (ÖSYM) has announced that 75.6 percent of all participants have scored above the threshold of 180 points.
A full score is 500, so 180 points corresponds to 3.6 out of 10. 

Some 500,000 people have not even scored 3.6 out of 10 and these people will be on the job market for at least 30 years and will want a profession. These are only for this year. Next year, the same number of people will join them. 

Sometimes, hitting rock bottom creates an opportunity for the person. One might think, “Okay, there is no other place deeper than this; but it is possible to leap from here.” But when it is our education system in question, this leap forward never comes.