Schools should prepare students for life, not marriage

Schools should prepare students for life, not marriage

What might a “Tourism Week” at school feature? Local cuisine, popular geographic destinations; if there are any historic artifacts and places, they would be depicted; there could also be folklore, dance and other shows, right? 

But, somehow, at an Anatolian High School in the Alaplı district of the Black Sea province of Zonguldak, students were dressed as brides and grooms during the school’s tourism week. Under the title of “Re-enacting the Alaplı traditions,” kids are staging weddings, betrothals, henna nights and “taking the bride from her home” shows. 

Henna is applied to the hands of kids who wear weddings dresses and suits, the tradition of taking the bride from her home is re-enacted, and students dance folkloric dances to folkloric instruments. The girl in the wedding dress rides a horse to the “groom’s house.” 

The district governor, the mayor, district police chief, district education director, teachers and parents and all the townsfolk watch this show where kids are made to demonstrate behaviors that belong to grownups. Not one person comes up and asks “Could you not find any other show for the kids?” 

When reporters asked the principal, he said, “I don’t think there is a problem. The kids are big anyway.” In other words, he accepts that they are kids but invents a concept such as “older kids.” 

It was only four months ago, in a supplementary book for grade-one elementary school students, that the image of a little girl wearing a wedding dress was published besides the sentence “Özge has become a little bride.” Who knows what the Alaplı school principal would have said, but the ages of these kids were not at all “big.” It was a mystery how this publication that legitimizes child abuse was approved by the Board of Education and Discipline. 

Does it stop there? No. At a dormitory building in the southern province of Adana, a “Preparation to Marriage” course was opened. The two-month school where participation was obligatory was promoted with several pro-marriage slogans on the bulletin boards. 

In the police academy in Samsun, 900 students attended a “Pre-marriage Education Program.” Lecturers wished police cadets “success in their married lives.” If police cadets had been trained about aiding women victims of violence, this would have not doubt been much better for society. 

Universities should be places where free thoughts are disseminated generously, where ideas compete with each other to generate new ideas and where young people are prepared to step into life. Conferences and seminars organized at universities should broaden the horizons of students. They should not be places where conferences named “The Road Map of Marriage” are held. Is the university the correct place to talk about the importance of selecting the right partner? 

Child marriages and early marriages are our bleeding wounds. Because of their gender roles, women in Turkey are oppressed, subjected to violence or die. 

Is the goal of educational institutes to improve society or is it to prepare children and young people for marriage? 

Tell me, what business does marriage have in education?