Another wound in Turkish education

Another wound in Turkish education

The students of this country are constantly asked to bow down in front of those who have power.

I don’t know if the “project schools” students are receiving education that will make them progress in the fields of science, technology and art, but the education minister is certainly making sure they understand what “citizenship” means at an early age. 

 For example, the Kadıköy Anatolian High School’s students have learned in this 2016-17 academic year that when they protest the fact that their teachers are being sent away, disrupting their school’s identity and spirit, the police in this country always come to face down those demanding their rights. These children have been protesting for a while about the fact that their teachers (71 teachers in total!) – many of whom have been working in their schools for many years - have been sent away to other schools. They are also protesting about obstructions to their school’s traditional ceremonies and entertainment activities. Last weekend some students were called in for questioning. They were asked conspiracy theory-based questions like “who is your ‘superior mind’?” 

The other day water cannon security vehicles (TOMA) carrying armed police came to the school while the children were in class. Let’s read what happened from one of the news reports: “Police holding guns came to the front gate of Kadıköy Anatolian High School, which has been included within the scope of the ‘project schools’ changes. One student said, ‘there is a bus in front of the school with civil police as well as police with guns. The school is under blockade.’ The police came during the morning hours when students were in class and later left. Throughout the day there was no call for a protest or demonstration at the school.” Meanwhile, the students of the Kabataş High School on the European side of Istanbul have learned - within the curriculum of the “New Turkey” - that they will one day have to leave the positions they have acquired through merit and by working hard to some other “men of the current times.” They are not even able to open their mouths about this.

Experienced teachers with good language stills and graduates of good universities have been sent away from Kabataş High School. It is not just one or two of them. Out of 67 teachers at the school, 30 have been sent elsewhere, according to news reports. The school’s students have had to watch the departure of their teachers, who endorsed the culture and identity of the school, and watch the arrival of a new deputy principle, Şakir Voyvot. 

Voyvot came from the quota that the education minister is authorized to appoint to the “project schools.” Some may recall Voyvot from a speech he recently delivered at a meeting of an association. He said: “It’s now time for all schools in the country to be turned into imam hatip [religious] schools.” The video footage can be found on the YouTube. Students of the 155 top state schools in Turkey, which have raised numerous generations that have served this country, have learned a truth of these lands: “It is not the one who works who wins, but the one with the strongest backing.” The empty quotas of these schools have been quietly filled by the Education Ministry with “some students” with lower examination points. No statement has been made to the public, neither has any change in the regulation been announced on the ministry’s website. The students of these well-rooted educational institutions are now learning in their “citizenship” classes that if you raise your voice against injustice in Turkey, you will be faced with a TOMA. It is not enough to work hard, you simply have to be close to the man in power.

What a shame it all is.