Turkey’s education system, despite the country’s legal commitments to provide equitable and non-discriminatory education to all, continues to marginalise many minority communities and perpetuate nationalist principles in the classroom. Discrimination based on Colour, Ethnic Origin, Language, Religion and Belief in Turkey’s Education System, a jointly published report by History Foundation (Tarih Vakfı) and Minority Rights Group International, highlights the effects of this exclusionary system on children from minority communities and their ability to secure adequate access to education.
Despite legislation passed in 2012 to support teaching of minority languages, in practice there are many obstacles due to lack of resources and limited political will. Moreover, education in their mother tongue remains out of reach for many communities. This can have lasting impacts on the learning outcomes of minority children. In addition, compulsory religious education in Sunni Islam from grade four means that some minority members, such as Alevis, are obliged to take the course. Though technically Christian and Jewish children can apply to opt out, the procedure for opting out can itself undermine their human rights. Minority communities are also frequently overlooked or misrepresented in educational materials such as textbooks and curricula, meaning that prejudices and stereotypes about their communities are being recreated among the next generation. Finally, disadvantaged communities such as Afro-Turks and Roma often struggle to secure full educational access.
This report presents an overview of the current state of Turkey’s educational system during 2014 to 2015, drawing on fieldwork by Monitoring Discrimination in Education Network, an alliance of 16 organisations working in Turkey. Besides outlining the relevant legal standards and key rights relating to education access, such as language and pluralism, it also presents a detailed overview of key areas of discrimination and ongoing inequalities faced by minority children. It ends with a series of recommendations, including legal reforms, increased resources for mother tongue learning, revised curricula and improved discrimination monitoring, to support the development of a more inclusive and socially just educational system in Turkey.
Also available in Turkish, here.
This report consists of three main chapters. The first chapter enumerates all the mechanisms contributing to the development of educational inequalities in the Czech Republic’s education system, which are summarised to provide a context for the focus of this report—the ECEC of Roma children. It highlights the lack of ECEC provision for children under the age of 3 years (in terms of insufficient professional support to young Roma children, including that provided in some circumstances by crèches), problems related to insufficient kindergarten capacity (available child places), and low participation of Roma children in ECEC programs overall. This chapter also deals with the transition from preschool settings to primary education, and the placement of Roma children into schools with reduced curricula. All this has to be understood in the context of a highly diversified education system that “sorts” children into different educational pathways early in life, starting as early as Grade 1 in primary school. Another problem discussed is the large proportion of postponed primary school enrolments. The first chapter is based on statistical data and data from the Czech Longitudinal Study of Education, which studied educational transition in compulsory education. These are complemented by available data from other available research surveys.
The second chapter analyses the level of inequalities in ECEC provision for Roma children. It is the main analytic chapter of the report and describes the participation of Roma children in kindergartens and how this impacts their successful enrolment into primary education. The analysis is based on: Czech data collected for the 2011 regional Roma survey organised by the UNDP, World Bank, and European Commission (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and UNDP 2012); research into the educational pathways of Roma pupils (Gabal Analysis and Consulting 2010); group interviews with Roma parents (Nová škola 2011); and regional situational analyses produced by the Office of the Czech Government Demographic Information Center (2011).
In comparison with their non-Roma peers, Roma children’s enrolment in preschool education is markedly less frequent. The key causal issues identified by the analysis include economic reasons, the different parental priorities of socially excluded families in comparison with other more affluent groups in society, and direct and indirect discriminatory barriers in preschool institutions. However, as stated above, it is well known that the beneficial influence of preschool education is more significant for marginalised and materially deprived Roma children than for their non-Roma counterparts.
The third chapter draws conclusions and lists a number of key recommendations, some with addenda.