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Labor union report reveals problems persist in Turkey’s education system in 2018

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A report drafted by the Education and Science Workers Union (Eğitim-Sen) has revealed that serious problems in Turkey’s education system continued to exist in 2018, making it difficult for students to have easy access to education, the dokuz8haber news website reported on Friday.

The report says no concrete steps were taken in 2018 to make it possible for students to benefit equally from the right to education, that legislation was passed encouraging marriage among school-age youngsters, that the problem of child workers was not addressed and that the number of cases of sexual abuse and violence against children increased.

“The problems experienced by girls, children whose mother tongue is not Turkish, disabled children and children who are under temporary protection in their access to education increased further,” the report said.

According to Eğitim-Sen, 91.2 percent of children were in school in 2017, rising to 91.5 percent in 2018 — 91.7 percent for girls and 91.4 percent for boys.

As of October 2018, there were 405,906 Syrian children in Turkey who have no access to education. These children are from Syrian families who fled an ongoing civil war in Syria that began in 2011 and took refuge in Turkey. There are more than 3 million Syrian refugees in the country

As for disabled children, 89.3 percent of these children could not go to school in 2018. Most schools in Turkey are not equipped to meet the needs to disabled students.

Among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, Turkey spent the least amount per student in state schools in 2018.

In 2018, a record number of students were enrolled in private schools, whose number also saw a significant rise. The number of private schools was 11,694 in 2018, and there were 236,355 students at these schools.

Following the introduction of a new education model (known as 4+ 4+4) by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in 2012, there has been a 53 percent rise in the number of students in private schools. Before the introduction of this model, the ratio of private schools to state schools in Turkey was 10 percent, rising to around 20 percent in 2018.

The AKP government provided a great deal of financial support to imam-hatip or religious, schools, which many say have been abused by conservative governments in Turkey for years.

While the number of students at imam-hatip schools was 94,467 during the 2012-2013 school year, this figure had increased almost eight times as of the end of 2018 and reached 723,108 by the end of the 2017-2018 school year and 1.3 million as of the end of 2018.

Turkey’s Education Ministry allocated 35 percent of its budget of TL 92 billion to religious education in 2018. In the same year, the ministry spent TL 637 for each student in kindergarten, TL 4,326 for each student in primary and middle school, TL 6,153 for each student in high school and TL 12,707 for each student in imam-hatip schools.

The report described the ministry’s favoring imam-hatip schools as discriminatory against other students.

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