Turkey Liaison

Mehmet Muldu, TED University

The Turkish Parliament, with the recommendation of the Ministry of Education, recently made several changes to its national education system. Compulsory education has been extended from 8 to 12 years, the number of elective courses for secondary and high school students has been increased, and the minimum age for entering school was lowered from 7 to 6.

The most debated change was the age for entering school. Families are now required to register their children to attend 1st grade once they turn 66 months old. Children between 60 and 66 months whose readiness for school is considered sufficient by educators will be admitted at the start of the academic year at their parents' request. Children between 48 and 60 months will be admitted to kindergarten, which is not compulsory. With the recent changes, families have been questioning the readiness of their children for primary school.

The parliament also passed a regulation under which students will no longer be required to wear a specific school uniform. This bill grants students the freedom to select their own clothing to wear to school, with a few exceptions (i.e., transparent or too form-fitting clothes and clothes featuring political symbols or writing are still banned).

A new project, the Movement to Increase Opportunities and Technology, seeks to integrate state-of-the-art computer technology into Turkey's public education system. The project's goals are to enable equal opportunities in education and to improve technology in schools. Some schools around the country have been equipped with smart boards, and 12,800 tablet PCs have been distributed in 52 schools in 17 provinces via a pilot program.