Prime Minister lashes out at leading business group
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Prime Minister Erdoğan says uninterrupted eight-year compulsory education harmed both society and the economy. AFP photoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) for having a “blind ideology” as he kept up an onslaught on the business group over its criticism of the planned education reform.
“They are confusing people with their blind ideology in order to block our recovery efforts in the field of education. But we will not allow this. We are not the government of elites and bosses,” he said.
The government’s education reform plan came under fire by opposition parties and nongovernmental organizations as the plan envisaged vocational education starting after the first four years of school at the age of 10. Critics indicated that students in Western countries were asked to choose vocational programs no earlier than the age of 16.
Speaking at the press conference revealing the new sign of the Turkish Lira yesterday, Erdoğan said uninterrupted eight-year compulsory education harmed both society and the economy. “An association representing the businessmen shot itself in the foot by imposing its own ideology. Vocational schools became dysfunctional after the Feb. 28 [1997 National Security Council] decisions. The industrialists, economy, people and the country suffered from it. They [TÜSİAD] are trying to repeat a mistake they made before,” Erdoğan said.
Uninterrupted eight-year compulsory education was enforced after the “Feb. 28 process” of 1997, closing down the middle classes of vocational schools. The motivation behind this decision was seen as wanting to block students from attending imam-hatip religious schools at a younger age.
TÜSİAD chair Ümit Boyner last week criticized the government’s plan, indicating that separation of primary education into two tiers and efforts to associate the second tier with “open learning” could cause problems in girls’ schooling rates. The government later agreed to present students with homeschooling options after eight compulsory years in school rather than four, but Erdoğan slammed the business group, urging them “to mind their own business.”
Erdoğan yesterday said uninterrupted education was implemented in accordance with a report of TÜSİAD dating back to 1990.
“We welcome the NGOs’ opinions related with their professional field. But they [TÜSİAD] express their ideological stance outside of their interest area. If some reports were implemented with antidemocratic methods, then we criticize it,” he said.