Turkey to boost vocational schools to ease dense universities

Turkey to boost vocational schools to ease dense universities

Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
Turkey to boost vocational schools to ease dense universities

Turkey has to decrease the number of students at universities by strengthening vocational schools which would also help to supply the small and medium-size enterprises with qualified manpower, the education minister has said, underlining that the education life should prepare individuals for life and not university entrance tests.

“Our main project is to ease the accumulation at the universities by making our vocational schools more attractive. In countries where the number of university students is too excessive, that means there is a problem there. Not everybody has to go to university,” Education Minister Prof. Ziya Selçuk told the Hürriyet Daily News on a visit to the Demirören Media Center on Jan. 23 in Ankara.

The number of university students exceeded 7.5 million as of 2019, with more than two million high school graduates annually pass university entrance exams in Turkey. A very high proportion of university graduates fail to find a job, adding new figures to Turkey’s already troubled unemployment figures.

Strengthening and updating the curriculums and equipment of the vocational schools would be a good way to offer an alternative to the students, Selçuk said, informing about the positive results of the implementation of this new understanding in the pilot scheme.

“We have turned the hotels, factories and plants into vocational schools as the equipment pool at schools has long been ago outdated. The idea was ‘if you cannot provide new equipment, then relocate the education where you can find the necessary tools’,” he stressed. Initial results of this new system are encouraging as both the students and the businesses express satisfaction, he added.

Integrating education with the economy is key in creating value and boosting vocational schools would sure serve this purpose, the minister said, drawing attention on the need for qualified and semi-qualified workers in Turkey.

“In the meantime, we can also work to shift a negative approach to vocational schools. There are students who prefer to apply to the vocational schools we have opened inside the hotels. Some want to enroll in a vocational school at the Istanbul Technical University’s Teknopark. Because these are schools with job guarantees,” he said.

Students will receive tailor-made guidance

A key point in efforts to introduce changes in the education system is to be able to follow the academic and pedagogical development of each and every student starting from pre-school and elementary schools, the minister stated.

“A computerized system is designed to trace the performances, areas of interests and certifications of each and every student starting from primary school. The system will follow the children from the day they enroll in a school. Implementation will begin in the next academic year in pilot school and be fully ready for the 2021-2022 education year,” he stated.

Thanks to this system, the families, the schools and the students will be able to make sound decisions on how to proceed in academic life, Selçuk stressed.

Education requires national consensus

Education requires a national consensus, as there can’t be an education of a single political party, Selçuk said. “That’s why we call it the national education. And that’s why we should move in terms of the common ground of our nation. Otherwise, the process of becoming a nation would be delayed and everybody will try to educate the children through their own prism. And that destroys a nation’s shared dream and ideal.”

The world will mark a new turning point by the 2040s as it’s coming to the end of what we today call the information society, the minister said, predicting that this new era will abolish all the current employment systems.

“That’s why we should not pre-occupy the minds of our children with all these known competences. We should prepare our children for life and not for [university entrance] exams.”