Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said on Friday that Turkey is still lagging behind when it comes to reading books and academic production.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a library at Istanbul Medeniyet University, Erdoğan cited statistics indicating that in Turkey people on average watch TV for six hours and are online for three hours but read only for three to four minutes a day.
Erdoğan himself previously had told reporters that he does not read books but that his advisors bring him book summaries.
In his speech Erdoğan also claimed that Turkey’s universities had taken a giant leap compared to pre-2002, the year he came to power. However, in the same remarks he also said Turkish universities are not engaged in enough academic production.
Especially since a failed coup in July 2016, the regime has expelled, dismissed and jailed thousands of academics from universities on accusations of terrorism and involvement in the coup.
Yet Erdoğan said Turkish universities enjoy a great degree of freedom in his speech on Friday.
According to Turkeypurge.com, which tracks numbers in the massive purge in the country, 6,021 academics have lost their jobs in Turkey since July 2016.
Just last Friday 13 academics were detained for allegedly organizing anti-government protests back in 2013.
Erdoğan also compared the number of college students in Turkey with Germany. “I talked to [German Chancellor] Merkel and asked her how many college students they have. She said 3 million as opposed to our 8 million. “We might be behind in terms of qualifications, but I believe we will catch up” Erdoğan said.