Turkey's Changemakers: Cooperation for a Better Education
The Cooperative is currently offering courses in four districts; Sultanbeyli, Yenibosna, Tuzla and Ataşehir.The latest episode of “Turkey’s Changemakers” features the Life in May Cooperative, where volunteers help students in need prepare for the university entrance exams.
The “Life in May Cooperative” was established in 2002 by five young alumni of Boğaziçi University. At this Cooperative, students who need help with their school courses or in preparing for the university entrance exams receive assistance from volunteer teachers and university students. Aware of difficulties faced by students in preparing for the university admission test and willing to help other students through this process, the founders established the Cooperative in Ümraniye, a district with low-income and education levels in Istanbul.
Starting with one center in 2002, the Cooperative is currently offering courses in four districts; Sultanbeyli, Yenibosna, Tuzla and Ataşehir. To date, the Cooperative has worked with nearly 200 teachers, and helped close to 1,000 students with university entrance exam preparation, open courses and English lessons. Today, 60 of their former students are pursuing a university degree.
Teachers, as well as students, can become members of the Cooperative, founded on the principle of solidarity, in exchange for a fee. Thereby, teachers and students collectively cover electricity and water costs of the Cooperative, pay rent and taxes, and buy tea, sugar, paper, and other materials. Teachers and students become a member of the Cooperative by contributing 15 Turkish Liras each.
The “Life in May Cooperative” also conducts research on the shortcomings of the current education system, and brings these issues to the attention of the public. In addition to preparing publications and organizing panels and forums on education, the Cooperative also has two theater groups named “Awakening” and “Gift,” and a music group called “Yenibosna.” They announce their educational programs and activities through a newsletter entitled “The Life in May Cooperative Bulletin.”