Turkish main opposition leader calls on PM to work together on education reform bill
Ninety-one percent of Turks lack adequate information on how planned education reform will affect their children, according to a poll by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which has called for greater public debate on a contentious related motion.
“This situation is unacceptable for any democracy. How can we trust a government that is doing business in secret?” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said yesterday as he revealed the results of the survey.
Nearly 87 percent of respondents disapproved of vocational training instead of regular schooling for 10-year-old boys, according to the poll.
The survey also found that 97 percent disagree with homeschooling for girls after four years of basic education, a provision that has since been modified to allow distance learning after eight years. About 87 percent also said free preschool education for 5-year-olds was necessary.
“Our nation has common sense. Even if they are ill-informed, they perceive that there is something wrong with the educational bill,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, reiterating a call on the ruling party to withdraw the bill and seek compromises with the opposition on a new draft.
The poll was conducted among 1,200 respondents in 25 provinces.
Meanwhile, squabbles erupted in Parliament’s Education Commission yesterday as the stormy debate on the bill dragged on. Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker Osman Çakır accused the CHP of having banned “the mentioning of Allah’s name” during its single-party rule in the early years of the Turkish Republic. After a harsh CHP reaction, Çakır apologized for his remarks. The commission meeting was still continuing as the Hürriyet Daily News went to print late yesterday.
The controversial bill has come under fire for the allegedly premature introduction of vocational classes after four years of basic education and for allowing students to opt out of school in favor of home study after eight years. Critics say the new system will encourage child labor and undermine the schooling of girls.