Turkey’s religious vocational schools to teach Spanish to connect with South American Muslims
ANKARA – Anadolu AgencyTurkey’s religious vocational high schools, known as imam hatip high schools, are set to introduce Spanish education in the following academic year, aiming to strengthen relations with Muslims living in Central and South American countries.
Two high schools in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district have been designated as pilot schools for the project and a preparation class will be formed for incoming students who will be taught Spanish in the 2016-2017 academic year.
The Education Ministry released a written statement to make the announcement, wherein it underlined that Spanish will start to be taught at a ministerial school for the first time.
In its statement, the ministry underlined that around 7 million Spanish speaking Muslims inhabit countries in Central and South America and imam hatip graduates from Spanish language schools are expected to be instrumental in forming and enhancing relationships with these communities.
A total of 68 students are expected to be enrolled in Spanish classes next year.
Turkey has accelerated efforts to increase its global educational reach following a rift between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and Fethullah Gülen, a U.S.-based Islamic scholar accused of running a purported terror organization with aims to topple the AKP government, as Gülen scholars have a strong international presence in the field of education.
The AKP has recently finalized a draft bill proposing to form a “Maarif Foundation” under the Education Ministry to provide education services in foreign countries at elementary, middle and higher levels, as well as private courses, culture centers, libraries, laboratories and arts and sports centers, in addition to dormitories for students and instructors. The foundation is set to have a budget of 1 million Turkish Liras.