Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is trying to raise a devout generation. The National Education Council meeting earlier this month shows that the government is making big steps in Islamizing education. As the highest advisory body to the Ministry of National Education, it examines education issues and makes recommendations based on the findings. Around 600 people who represent the education bureaucracy, institutions and trade unions which also include parents and teachers met for five days in Antalya. Egitim Bir Sen proposed to end the obligatory coed education system so that security problems due to attraction to the opposite sex could be minimized. Although not religious on its head, such “security problems” seem to have gone unnoticed.
Compulsory religious classes start in the fourth grade. They are constitutionally mandated ever since the military coup in 1980. Another proposal is for obligatory Ottoman-language classes in high schools which use the Arabic script. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk started the alphabet revolution which is when the Turkish Republic abandoned the Arabic script for the Latin one in 1928. The Ottoman language is a mixture of Turkish, Persian and Arabic words and grammar and was limited to being the official state and literary language of the Ottoman Empire’s palace, administration class and other elites. Ultimately, you can see the decisions which made the cut. Thankfully, obligatory coed education is still going to happen. Ottoman language classes being obligatory also got rejected. However, religion classes will start in the first grade. Also, kindergartners, kids aged 36-72 months, will be taught the concepts of paradise and hell and will apparently be imbued with the love for Allah.
Holy Birth Week will be from April 14-20th to mark the birth of the Prophet. While it always existed as a holiday in Turkey, it is now going to be obligatory for all schools to commemorate. Students will also have to memorize the Quran to be exempt for school for two years as well. According to Kamuran Karaca, the head of the left-leaning Education and Science Laborers Trade Union, the number of imam-hatip secondary schools rose from 1,099 in 2013 to 1,355 in 2014. Separate imam-hatip classes formed inside conventional secondary schools means that the amount of imam-hatip students rose from 94,000 to 240,000 in the last year. This isn’t to say that this is a huge percentage overall but rather speaks to the trend.
The New Turkey paradigm of Erdogan is one of social engineering. Ultimately, the Islamization of the education system is a way to build political Islam in the country. This is far from the Ataturk’s vision in the early 20th century. If you think this is interesting, read more at Al-Monitor.