Turkey’s education system is failing

Turkey’s education system is failing

Once more, the bitter fact that our education system is undergoing a total collapse has struck our faces like a slap. 

According to recent reports, the 27,863 candidates who sat for an aptitude test to become math teachers were only able to answer an average of nine questions correctly out of 50.

Physics teachers were able to answer an average of 15 questions correctly out of 50. Chemistry teachers were able to answer an average of 17 questions correctly out of 50.

You might say these are only candidates, and the many who failed the test will not become teachers anyway. But don’t be so optimistic. In another exam organized by the Education Ministry to fill vacant deputy principal positions in schools, out of 54,611 teachers who took the test 43,790 scored about 5 percent success rates on questions in Turkish, the history of the Turkish Republic revolution, and general culture.

Last year, 32,000 of the students who sat the Higher Education Entrance Exam (YGS) were not able to answer even one question correctly. A quarter of all the students who took the test were only able to score an average of 3.6 out of 10.

Meanwhile, according to the latest PISA results, out of 72 countries Turkey is in 49th place in mathematics. In science, we are 52nd. In comprehension, we are 50th. Overall, we have fallen around 10 places in three years.

All of this shows that our education system has hit rock bottom. Of course, past governments are also responsible for this awful picture and for not producing a proper education policy. But it is fair to say that most of the blame should go to the current ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been ruling the country as a single party for 15 years.

So far six different AKP deputies have served as education ministers. Every one of them has tried to change the previous examination system. They have all tried to base education on religious foundations and to convert regular high schools and middle schools into vocational religious “imam-hatip” schools.

The system has now reached the point of total collapse. It is neither the teachers nor the students who are failing. It is nobody other than the education ministers who are failing.

Did you say ‘dual-headedness’?

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has recently been trying to repair the damage he caused with his recent words. But somehow he is only causing new damage. This is like a textbook example for politicians: Do not speak the first thing that comes to your mind.

Kurtulmuş claimed that if a “yes” vote comes out of the referendum it would save the executive body from “dual-headedness.” 
“There will be more effective decision-making mechanisms in the fight against terror. I’m not saying we were weak in the fight against terror in the past, but a ‘yes’ vote would mean that our nation is supporting the decisions of our government,” he said.

Kurtulmuş earlier referred to two terror issues in Turkey: One is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the other is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

I wonder whether it was the “dual-headedness” in the executive that allowed the PKK to build up an arsenal in cities during the now-collapsed peace process. Was it “dual-headedness” that did not allow provincial and district governors to permit military operations? Was there “dual-headedness” in the government when jihadist militants were allowed to cross the Turkish border into Syria to try to topple Bashar al-Assad?
No, there was not. The president and the prime minister were in complete harmony through all these.

If those decisions were discussed in a parliament that was not held captive by party leaders, if the parliament and the public were heard, would all this be the same?

Kurtulmuş has admitted that Ankara’s Syria policy was wrong from the beginning. But there was no “dual-headedness” when that wrong policy was being implemented. Only one person was deciding and everybody else was nodding along.