Turkish Education Ministry lets religious Ensar Foundation arrange courses in public education centers
ANKARAA protocol signed by the Education Ministry and the Ensar Foundation, an Islamic-inspired children’s group that was previously embroiled in a major child abuse scandal, allows the latter to organize courses in nearly 1,000 public education centers, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Aug. 2.
The first article of the protocol signed last month between the two parties notes that its aim is to “organize social, artistic, sporting, scientific, and technological activities, seminars for course attendees and trainers in non-formal education institutions, as well as for mainstream schools students and teachers.”
The foundation will also “organize project works, competitions, vocational and technical training.”
“[The Education Ministry] will make it possible for the curriculum in the online informal education system [‘e-yaygın’ in Turkish] to be used. [The ministry] is also open to a new curriculum to be set by the foundation that does not exist in the online informal education system,” the protocol’s sixth article reportedly stated.
Accordingly, the Ensar Foundation will be able to prepare its own curriculum in these centers for newly opened programs, such as university entrance courses, Cumhuriyet reported.
Another article states that if the protocol is not renewed within five years, the term for which it is initially valid, its validity will be automatically extended for another five years. This article will thus give the Ensar Foundation the potential to provide courses to 8 million individuals over the next 10 years, Cumhuriyet noted.
Following Cumhuriyet’s report, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) İzmir deputy Mustafa Balbay condemned the protocol, taking the issue to the agenda of the Turkish Parliament, Doğan News Agency reported.
“That such a protocol was signed with the Ensar Foundation, whose name was mentioned in the sexual abuse case against children in Karaman, is sheer carelessness. That the Ensar Foundation has partnered with the national education system will have serious consequences,” said Balbay, who is also a member of parliament’s Committee on National Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.
He also submitted a parliamentary question to Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz. “The damage caused by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) is out in open, especially in the education system. If partnering the Ensar Foundation with the national education system leads to a similar damage, who will be responsible for this?” Balbay asked in the motion.
Public education centers are state institutions that exist in all cities and towns to meet locals’ lifelong learning and continuing education needs, regardless of age.
There are 986 public education centers across Turkey, offering 3,176 courses on various topics such as handicrafts, clothing, navigation, and health, Cumhuriyet reported, citing Education Ministry figures. Around 3.4 million men and 4 million women are recorded to have taken training in these centers so far, it added.
The Ensar Foundation was at the center of a scandal in 2016 after a teacher working in its branch in the Central Anatolian province of Karaman was convicted of sexually abusing 10 male school children aged 10-12 from 2012 and 2015.