School year ends amid controversy

School year ends amid controversy

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
School year ends amid controversy

Some 17 million students in Turkey received their term grades on June 8. AA Photo

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has asked the Constitutional Court to suspend and annul the controversial education bill that will profoundly overhaul Turkey’s education system and introduce the Quran as an elective course. The CHP argued that the education bill breached the equality and secularism articles of the Constitution.

“This bill will increase child brides and child labor. Imposing the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad as an elective course for 9-year-old pupils would create a heavy [social] pressure on them.

This bill is against the rational education principle, as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the secular state principle of the Constitution,” CHP deputy group chair Emine Ülker Tarhan said after the application.

The law, which extends compulsory education from eight to 12 years, also reinstates the secondary stage of the imam-hatip religious schools. It has also faced harsh objections for potentially opening the door for conservative parents to remove their daughters from high school in favor of home study. The law has also come under fire for decreasing the school-starting age from seven to five, on the grounds that kids are not pedagogically ready to take classes at that age.

The party’s previous appeal to the Court for annulment of the law on procedural grounds was unanimously rejected. The first petition was based on an argument that most articles of the bill were approved without any debate, in reference to the March 12 session of the Parliament’s Education Commission, where the bill was rushed through by ruling party votes while opposition lawmakers were beaten and chairs were thrown.

The new school year will begin on Sept. 17, 2012, and for the first time an “adaptation program” for the new beginners will be applied next year.