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.

Ce rapport est le premier rapport du Défensuer des droits français à être consacré au droit à l'éducation depuis la création d'une autorité indépendante chargée de défendre les droits des enfants. Il porte sur l'effet des inégalités sociales et territoriales et des discriminations sur l'accès à l'école et sur le maintien dans l'école pour de nombreux enfants. Le rapport aborde les sujets ressortant le plus fréquemment des saisines reçues par l'institution et relatives aux difficultés de scolarisation des enfants, au sein de l'école publique. Il vise à faire progresser l'effectivité des droits des enfants grâce à des recommandations concrètes et opérationnelles à destination du gouvernement, des ministères de l'Education nationale et de la Justice, ainsi que des collectivités territoriales.