March 25, 2015

Ministry of Education shuts down 2 schools abroad

The Ministry of Education, which proposed offering the same services provided by Turkish schools established around the world by entrepreneurs inspired by the views of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen if they closed, has shut down its schools in Libya and Kazakhstan, a daily reported on Wednesday.

According to a story in the Bugün daily, the ministry closed down its school in Libya due to the political turmoil in the country. Bugün also learned that the Turkish Ministry of Education school in Kazakhstan was also closed but with no reasons provided.

The Ministry of Education has schools in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Libya, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Bulgaria, Luxemburg, Austria, Romania, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan to serve the Turkish children living in these countries. The schools provide education in accordance with the Turkish curriculum, and all of the school's expenses are covered by the ministry via the Turkish embassies in the respective countries.

Bugün also reported that the ministry is having difficulty convincing teachers to go to the countries where schools are available. At present there are 514 teachers in Germany, 360 in Saudi Arabia, 119 in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), eight in Iran, five in Tajikistan, three in Bulgaria, two in Italy and one each in Luxemburg and Bahrain.

As part of efforts by the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to close down these Turkish schools, Erdoğan said in January that he has been telling African authorities that the Turkish Ministry of Education is ready to offer the same services provided by these schools. “The ministry is close to finishing its preparations to that effect,” he said.

Erdoğan launched a self-described war on the Gülen movement after a corruption probe went public on Dec. 17, 2013 that implicated senior members of then-Prime Minister Erdoğan's government. He accuses the movement of plotting to topple his government.

However, no African countries where these Turkish schools are present announced that the schools would be closed. Moreover, many political leaders and officials from these countries praised the schools and their teachers saying that they increase the quality of education in their countries despite the difficult living conditions faced in Africa.

The Gülen movement is a faith-based civic movement that promotes science education, charity and interfaith dialogue as well as moderation and corruption-free governments. Followers of the Gülen movement are known for their schools in more than 160 countries around the world, which provide secular education supported by universal moral values. The schools and activities of the movement are supported by millions of people, mainly businessmen who own small and medium-sized companies, across Turkey and around the world.

Published on Today's Zaman, 25 March 2015, Wednesday