August 13, 2015

GÜVENDER announces prep schools will continue to operate

Güven Preparatory Schools Owners Association (GÜVENDER) Vice President Eyüp Kılcı announced on Tuesday that prep schools, also known as dershanes, will continue to operate and restart their registration period after the Ministry of Education disregarded the Constitutional Court's annulment of a controversial law that sought to close down prep schools by announcing a new regulation.

Education Minister Nabi Avcı announced a new regulation about dershanes on Aug. 7, saying that the current prep schools might continue to operate as “private educational courses” if they meet the requirements mentioned in the regulation.

Kılcı said: “Nabi Avcı previously stated that a regulation in accord with the Constitutional Court's reasoned decision [to annul the law that sought to close down prep schools] would be prepared [by the Ministry of Education]. But he did not even use the expression ‘dershanes' [in the new regulation]. He only added a new description of ‘private educational courses,' which is not related to [the Constitutional Court's decision on] dershanes.”

Emphasizing that the dershanes within the association will continue to operate within the legal boundaries, Kılcı said the registration period for dershanes has restarted. “[The private educational] courses mentioned in the regulation are far from serving the purpose of dershanes. We [dershane owners] will successfully carry on our activities based on the rights given to us with the decision of the Constitutional Court,” Kılcı added.

Addressing students and their parents, Kılcı said: “We will carry on meeting all your needs [related to] education with the staff at our institutions by helping you with your lessons, preparing you for the exams and increasing your success in these days when preparations for the exams are starting.”

Republican People's Party (CHP) Eskişehir deputy Gaye Usluer interpreted the new regulation on Tuesday as a political trick to invalidate the Constitutional Court's decision on dershanes. “The price of this political trick will be paid by students and their parents. The [real] intention of the Ministry of Education is to impose a ban on the education institutions that are not pro-government,” Usluer said.

Emphasizing that the new regulation has no legal basis, Usluer said: “The decisions of the Constitutional Court cannot be objected to. [People who object to the regulation] can apply to the Council of State. [In that case], the Council of State would have no choice but to annul the regulation. More importantly, the education minister and other bureaucrats who prepared the regulation -- that is against the decision of the Constitutional Court -- and published it in the Official Gazette are committing a crime. I think we will witness the start of the prosecution process regarding this issue in the [near] future.”

The ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) bill to shut down dershanes was put to a vote and passed by Parliament on March 7, 2014, and signed into law by then-President Abdullah Gül on March 12. The law ordering the closure of dershanes was widely seen as part of the AK Party's witch hunt against the Gülen movement, also known as the Hizmet movement, a civil society initiative inspired by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen that focuses on education and interfaith dialogue. Gülen became the target of the AK Party following the eruption of a corruption scandal in December 2013 in which senior government members were implicated. Then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the movement of a plot to overthrow his government, a claim the movement has repeatedly denied.

Published on Today's Zaman, 12 August 2015, Wednesday