Religion courses for primary schools on agenda of Turkish education council
Religious culture and moral knowledge courses are compulsory for every Turkish student from the fourth grade onward. DHA PhotoThe national education council is set to discuss the introduction of religious courses to primary schools and kindergartens across Turkey, raising fresh concerns over the rise of religious conservatism in the country.
The suggestion has been made by teachers’ union Eğitim Bir-Sen, which offered to discuss religious courses in primary schools during meetings for the 19th national education council in the southern province of Antalya. The council decided to discuss the proposal during its ongoing meetings, and if it is approved by the council, it will be included in non-binding recommendation letter submitted to the Education Ministry, Doğan News Agency reported.
Religious culture and moral knowledge courses are compulsory for every Turkish student from the fourth grade onward. Religious courses are currently not given to first, second and third graders.
During discussions in the council, a number of members objected to the proposal, saying children at such a young age cannot understand the concepts of “God, heaven and hell,” so it would be confusing for them to receive such courses. However, the Eğitim Bir-Sen representative who proposed it responded by asking, “Are you against Allah?” daily Cumhuriyet reported on Dec. 3.
Eğitim Bir-Sen Deputy Chairman Ali Yalçın said they had also proposed religious education class for pre-school students.
“Our proposal to start ‘values education’ to preschool children has also been accepted [to be discussed in the council’s agenda]. This course is a necessity,” said Yalçın, adding that parents demanded such lessons.
However, another teachers union, Eğitim Sen, rejected the proposal.
Meanwhile, a separate proposal for compulsory Ottoman language classes has been accepted by the council. According to the current curriculum, Ottoman Turkish classes are elective for secondary school students.
Mixed education request
Eğitim Bir-Sen also recently made headlines after making another controversial proposal to remove mixed-sex education across the country. However, national Education and Discipline Board head Emin Karip said this issue would not be discussed in the council’s current meetings.
“No proposal can be approved here if it is not on the agenda of the council. The proposals that are not on the agenda cannot be voted on,” said Karip.