August 6, 2015

On the failure of the national education system

Cengiz Aktar

This is university enrollment week. According to the results of the undergraduate placement exam (LYS), 1,239,800 out of the 2,010,790 candidates filed a preference list for placement. A total of 784,950 students got placements for the 823,739 spots in higher education institutions and198,140 candidates preferred distance education programs.

As a result, 18,700 spots in undergraduate programs and 20,019 in two-year degree programs remain unfilled. Despite the hostility of the government towards the Hizmet movement, the most successful candidates on the exam were graduates of Hizmet-affiliated prep schools. A total of 415,000 out of 891,000 recent high school graduates who took the exam failed to get a placement and only 97,000 out of the 403,000 candidates who were already enrolled in a higher education program managed to be placed.

Professor İbrahim Ortaş of Çukurova University has been following the failure of the system since 1998. He says: “Last year, the placement exam results were poor; now they are even poorer. Only 5 percent of students can be considered proper university students. “In 2014 a total of 145,000 out of the 1,987,488 candidates failed to get a placement because they failed to receive the minimal 140 points on the exam. And 575,768 students were not allowed to take the second-stage exam because they were unable to get a score of 180, the minimum to go to the university. In 2013, 477,000 students failed to get 180 points on the first-stage exam. ( We will see what the 2015 results will show.

Education in Turkey fails to meet the needs of the young people. The training, the methods, the content, the exam and selection system and comprehension in foreign language all fail to meet expectations. It is sufficient to look at the “jobless university graduates” to see the collapse and failure of the system.

Turkey always performs poorly in the International Student Assessment (PISA), an international program of evaluation of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of which Turkey has been a member state since its foundation. This program, which evaluates the skills and knowledge 15-year-old students acquired, assesses performance in three-year intervals. We will see how our students will perform this year. But Turkey is already paying a huge price for the failure of the education system.

Bahçeşehir University's Center for Economic and Social Research (BETAM) also follows the activities (more precisely, the failures and ineptness) of the 15-19-year-olds covered in the PISA evaluations. BETAM finds that 35.2 percent of the 2,193,000 young people who should attend school are out of the education system. The majority of these people only have a primary school education. Almost 1 million of those who dropped out of school do not have a job. Nearly 950,000 young people have neither education nor job. Unemployment is a big problem as unqualified youth cannot get a decent job. In case we add those who are underemployed, the overall outlook becomes even worse. From the perspective of education, we can say that sources are wasted; compulsory education was mandated to be 12 years, but this did not solve anything because young people do not benefit from their education even if they have to attend class. You can imagine how this idle energy could be manipulated or misused by all sorts of illegal organizations.

Finally, as usual, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç made some fantastic statements a few time ago. He stated that the Turkish education system, which is one of the worst in the world, was going to open up to the world and replace the Turkish schools which were founded by the Hizmet movement, operate without any government support and have been successful around the world for more than a decade. How would you acquire the property of those schools that are subject to the laws of the country where they serve? How many teachers who are able to speak English fluently will you be able to appoint to these schools? The government is literally living in a world of fantasies and irrational assumptions.

Published on Today's Zaman, 05 August 2015, Wednesday