April 22, 2017

Afghan Students, families baulk at Turkey taking over schools

A number of parents of students at Afghan-Turk Schools on Saturday said at a meeting in Kabul they support the continuation of the schools in the country and do not want control to be handed over to the Turkish government.

The Afghan-Turk Schools students also wrote a letter to Afghan and Turkish government leaders and said they do not want the schools to be handed over to the Turkish government.

“Recently we have been very sad because we have been accused of being terrorists. Our schools, for no reason, are being handed over to someone else,” said one student, Gulbahar.

The management of Afghan-Turk Schools also said the schools will continue to operate as usual.

Three months have passed since classes started at our schools. We launched the project that was planned last year for Khost province. We continue our services as regular and free of issues around a handover,” said Ahmad Fawad Haidari, the deputy director of Afghan-Turk Schools.

Ahmad Neman, a student at an Afghan-Turk school, joined the school two years ago and is in grade eight.

Neman’s father said handing over the schools to the Turkish government will have a negative impact and the move would not be a positive change for students.

“Let’s simply ignore terrorism. We want schools and we are against terrorism. No one wants his children to become a terrorist,” Abdullah Dawi, Neman’s father said.

“99 percent of the students do not want the school to be handed over,” said Neman.

Currently between 7,000 and 8,000 students are studying at Afghan-Turk Schools in Kabul, Balkh, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Herat and Jawzjan provinces.

Thousands of students have graduated from these schools over the years.

In February, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani agreed to hand over the Afghan-Turk Schools, previously run by a pro-Gulen institution, to the Turkish Education Foundation [Maarif Foundation] which is a government institution.

This step was not welcomed by the affected schools.

Afghan-Turk Schools were supported by Fethullah Gulen, [who have inspired the] Gulen movement. After the failed military coup in Turkey last year, tensions between President Rajab Tayeb Erdogan and Gulen increased. Erdogan ordered all countries to handover the schools to the Turkish government.

Afghan-Turk Schools has been active in Afghanistan for 20 years.

Published on Tolo News, 22 April 2017, Saturday