Turkish time zone debate heats up with new suggestion
ISTANBUL/ANKARAComplaints have risen over the Turkish government’s decision to stop applying daylight saving time, prompting various suggestions on how to deal with challenges faced particularly by parents and students across the country.
Academics from the Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ) have suggested that schools in Turkey’s western provinces could start half-an-hour later in December and January, amid rising complaints from parents about children having to commute to school in the dark hours of the morning.
Professor Ahmet Duran Şahin of İTÜ said the decision to remain on summer time was made to conserve electricity, but admitted it had caused problems.
Şahin recalled that days will start getting longer after Dec. 21, and suggested that schools in western provinces start half-an-hour later throughout December and January.
Another academic involved in the study, psychologist Cem Demirbaş, also defended the government’s decision, claiming that the clock switch twice each year was “negatively affecting citizens’ psychology.”
“If there are too many problems, schools could start a little later. I’ve not seen any other country where school starts at 7 a.m. The whole world is discussing schools and businesses starting at 10 a.m.,” Demirbaş said.
However, parents have condemned the government’s decision to not change the clock during winter.
The authority to make changes in the schools’ starting time belongs to the office of the governor in each province. An official from the Istanbul Governor’s Office told daily Hürriyet that Istanbul has 5,736 primary and secondary schools with 2.67 million students and 149,000 teachers, which “makes it very difficult to change the time when schools start.”
The official added that a change would be especially difficult for schools that have education in two separate session, as a later start would mean a later finish, so the second shift student would have to go home in the dark.
“If you move the first class from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., then everything will be upside down. Even if a student leaves home at 7 a.m. instead of the current 6 a.m., it will still be dark then anyway,” he said.
The official also said city traffic would increase because of an overlap between school shuttle buses and commuters heading to work.
“In Istanbul the rate of students going to school in shuttle buses is quite high. The morning shift students would end up getting caught in traffic if the school day’s start was delayed,” he added.
At present there are no plans to adjust school hours in the offices of the governors in either Istanbul or in the capital Ankara.