Turkish demonstrators slam govt.’s education policy

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More than 40,000 members of Egitim Sen, the Education Union, marched through the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, demanding the repeal of a controversial law on primary and secondary education usually terms as “4+4+4” proposals.

The law that was passed by parliament last year gives regional governors the right to appoint and dismiss education chiefs, that many feel will politicize the education system and will bring uncertainty into teachers’ careers.

As the march continued, however, it was clear that many demonstrators were also angry at the recent corruption scandal engulfing Turkish politics, especially the latest allegations concerning the Prime Minister and his son.The Turkish government has been pushing through unpopular and controversial laws on educational reform since coming to power in 2002. Two years ago, the parliament passed controversial legislation on primary and secondary education. Under which, children will begin school the September after they turn six. The second stage will allow students to choose whether to study at a general education middle school or a religious vocational middle school, which are referred to as Imam Hatip schools. When the AKP came to power in 2002, only about 2% of eligible children attended clerical schools, so many see this move by the government as a betrayal of the principle of laicism upon which the Turkish Republic is founded.Today, thousands of teachers are gathered here in Istanbul to complain against the government’s education policies that the teaching union sees as a retrograde step.

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