Turkish Parliament’s Education Commission approves bill on cram schools
According to the bill, the deadline for the generalized closure of cram schools is Sept. 1, 2015.A bill envisioning the “transformation” of private cram schools, which prepare high school students for Turkey’s highly competitive university entrance exam, was approved by the Parliament’s Education Commission.
The bill also envisions the replacement of the senior-level bureaucratic administration at the Education Ministry, a move considered to be a follow-up to a mass purge in the judiciary and police ranks where followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen are influential.
The terms of office of members of the Board of Education and Discipline (TTK), deputy undersecretaries, director generals; group directors of construction and real property departments and provincial directors in 81 provinces of the country will end as soon as these arrangements are published in the Official Gazette.
According to the bill, the deadline for the generalized closure of cram schools is Sept. 1, 2015. For those cram schools which decide to turn into private schools, they are granted time until the end of the 2018/2019 school year to fulfill all required conditions for such a transformation.
The government’s decision to close down – or “transform” as they term it – the cram schools was the last straw, making an ongoing rift between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the Gülen Movement visible to the public eye back in November. The escalating tension triggered a chain of events which eventually led to a public fight between the government and the movement, in which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Fethullah Gülen themselves were also publicly involved.
The draft by the government was revealed by Turkish daily newspaper Zaman, affiliated with the Gülen Movement, with the daily underlining that the draft’s presence was denied by the government in talks with cram school owners many of whom are businesspersons close to the Gülen Movement.
“We are abolishing the cram schools. Does the state have schools? Yes. Then, why cram schools? They have always regarded our citizens as a commodity; they have constantly swindled [them]. Because there was a very huge annuity there; 1 billion US Dollars in a year. Would this annuity get lost? Of course, steps have been taken because of this,” Erdoğan said on Feb. 22, delivering a speech at a rally of his party held in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas.