Turkey’s educational report card is very weak, both in terms of academic success and children’s well-being. Pupils’ unhappiness and lack of success point to inequalities between regions and schools and the need for reform relating to teachers. The “Education Monitoring Report 2016-2017” produced by the Educational Reform Initiative has appeared. According to the report, there is a need for a larger budget to be assigned to investments to enhance children’s well-being. The payment of incentives to private schools since the 2014-15 educational year contradicts the principle of the equal use of public resources in the educational field. The people who have a key role in terms of academic success and children’s well-being are teachers. The weak report card in these two areas and inequalities between schools and regions point to the need for reform relating to teachers. There is one psychological consultant and guidance teacher per 538 pupils in Turkey. The climate in schools should be non-violent, safe and conducive to well-being for pupils and teachers. The number of psychological consultants and guidance teachers must be increased and guidance intensified in the interests of a positive educational environment. According to the report, 28.6% of pupils in Turkey gave scores of between 0 and 4 on a life satisfaction scale from 0 to 10, in other words, they reported being dissatisfied with their lives. Attention is drawn to this finding as a significant pointer to the need for policies and practices aimed at enhancing children’s well-being in Turkey.
900,000 child workers
Child labour and child marriage prevent certain children from accessing educational institutions. In Turkey, there are 900,000 children aged 6-18 who are engaged in economic activity; 44% of these children work in seasonal agricultural jobs. Virtually half of these children have no access to school; many registered seasonal agricultural worker children do not attend school regularly.
Religious lessons should be non-compulsory
It is stressed in the report that the compulsory nature of the Religious Culture and Morality lesson continues to violate the European Convention on Human Rights. The relevant section of the report reads: “The Religious Culture and Morality lesson comprises ‘religious education’ elements that aim to inculcate a specific religion’s faith tenets and forms of worship, rather than ‘education about religions’ based on the principles of impartiality, objectivity and pluralism. The same situation continues to be observed in updated educational programmes. In the programmes, religion and morality are portrayed from the Sunni Islamic viewpoint.”
Standardisation not the solution
Former Instruction and Education Board Chair, Prof. Dr. Ziya Selçuk, who set out his views in the report, made the following assessment of “The past ten years of education”: “Positive quantitative change has taken place in the past ten years of education, but they can be summed up as being years in which no headway was achieved by way of qualitative and paradigmatic transformation. For genuine transformations to be experienced, the notion of a “standard generation” regardless of what kind must be abandoned. Only “standard beings” emerge under this notion. Education is the duty, not of a party, but of a nation. For this reason, there is a need for an approach to education that represents every soul living on this soil. The notion of “National Education” is a dead end from the outset. Education’s message is for people. That whose message is for people requires planning primarily in universal terms. It is then painted in local colours and takes on a national form.”
Education in a dead end