Jean Paul Kouo, the deputy education minister of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, has responded to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish authorities, saying their stance against African countries is similar to colonial countries that wanted an educationally backward Africa they could exploit easily.
Speaking with the Cihan news agency in an interview in the city of Abidjan on Saturday, Kouo said it is interesting to see Erdoğan pushing ahead for the closure of Turkish schools that are affiliated with the faith-based Gülen movement inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, also known as the Hizmet movement, in African nations but remaining silent about similar schools in Asia, Europe and the US.
Pointing out the demand for more schools in his country, Kouo said: “If the Turkish authorities have good intentions, we invite them to open more schools. But we will not allow them to touch the [Hizmet-affiliated] schools, as they are ours.” Kouo added that Turkish officials should not use African countries as part of their politicking.
Kouo, who is responsible for private schools in the Ministry of Education in the African country, described the Hizmet-affiliated Şafak educational institutions in the country as Cote d'Ivoire schools, saying the schools do not impose any other system on local students and just work toward providing a quality education for their students. According to Kouo, the schools in his country and Nile University in Nigeria, the only Turkish university in Africa, are aimed at the development of African nations.
Asking Turkish entrepreneurs in education to open a university in Cote d'Ivoire similar to Nile University in Nigeria, Kouo said these institutions must not be closed down and instead called for the opening of more schools. Speaking in support of Turkish schools, he said, “The Ministry of Education in the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire supports the Şafak educational institutions and their work, as they provide a quality education for our students and are guiding them toward a bright future.”
Erdoğan said during visits to Somalia and Ethiopia last month that he has been telling African authorities the Turkish Education Ministry is ready to offer the same service provided by these schools. “The ministry is close to finishing its preparations to that effect,” he had said.
Erdoğan was also quoted by the state Anadolu news agency as saying, “We have been talking about the status of these [Hizmet-affiliated] schools in the countries we visit and saying they should be closed down.”
The Turkish president declared the Hizmet movement the enemy after a corruption scandal involving people in his inner circle erupted with a wave of detentions on Dec. 17, 2013. He openly declared last year that he would do whatever it takes to eliminate the “parallel structure,” a term of his invention to refer to alleged sympathizers of the movement within the state bureaucracy, even if this requires a “witch hunt.” He has accused the Gülen movement of using the investigation in an effort to overthrow his government. The movement denies the allegations.
Published on Haberler.com, 08 February 2015, Sunday