Turkish government's plans to shut down "dershane"s, the preparatory schools aiding students to succeed in national exams for elite high schools and universities face stern opposition
“We do not want our children become race horses, we want them to live their childhood well with family and friends,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday night when he announced the government will not step back over "educational reform" that will also include closing down the prep schools. Private preparatory schools known as "Dershane" teach children to help them for the national exams of elite high schools and more prestigious universities.
“There will be no back step in government’s education reforms”, Erdogan said on a tv program.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party has recently announced it is working on legislation to close down prep schools, saying that they operate as a parallel educational system, and caused a new debate for students, their parents, educators and prep school owners. Those who oppose the plans claim that the low-cost prep schools help mending the inadequacies of national education system and assist many students from the poorer part of society to enter universities they want to study.
Turning prep schools that operate without sound regulations into private schools, as one of the plans to regulate prep schools, did not find desired enthusiasm from the owners.
“We have hardship in understanding the insistence of keeping prep schools instead of turning them into private schools,” Erdogan said
Many of those dershanes belong to a religious establishment called "Jamaat" or "Gulen movement" named after the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen who lives in the US. And the group has been sternly opposing the plans to close down dershanes.
Erdogan added that he did not wish to get involved in such a polemic which he found very ugly.
After a rather long meeting of cabinet ministers on Monday, government spokesman Bulent Arinc said the government decided to consider the future of prep schools and the issue would be discussed in all dimensions; however, Prime Minister Erdogan said last night “there will be no back steps” as he called the move as an educational reform.
Arinc also said on a proposal from Gulen movement to hand over the control of their prep schools -in reaction to government plans to shut down their prep schools- that it is an example of sacrifice.
During last night’s live program on ATV, Erdogan said upon a question asking whether they were in a political fight with Gulen congregation or it was just an innocent prep school quarrel that ‘they had a great responsibility and they can not be in a situation to hand over all this education to Jamaat’s associations and organizations’. “We are a political party and we can not be in a mistake to declare [Gulen movement] as our enemy”.
Privately run low-cost prep schools (dershane) in Turkey have played a huge part in Turkey, acting as supplementary educators for students who desire a better education chance by entering elite high schools and more prestigious universities. Many parents send their children to prep schools’ programs in which students receive intense curricullum coverage and learn testing techniques in a bid to offer them a better education opportunity in the future.