Turkey to Ease Restrictions on Minority Schools

ISTANBUL (Marmara)–Based on a report by the Turkish Cumhurriyet Daily–in accordance to Turkey’s application for membership in the European Union–the Turkish Ministry of Education has decided to ease its restrictions on a few minority schools and educational curriculum.

According to the report–Armenian–Greek and Jewish community schools cater to some 4,523 students. This figure is in addition to the French German–Italian–Austrian and American schools–which have a combined enrollment of 8,914. There are also international community schools–which tend to cater to expatriate communities and the number of enrollment in these school is at 671.

These schools today–the report says–operate under heavy restrictions and limitations set by the Turkish government. The report further claims that the education ministry has sensed the need for improvemen’s–and for the first set of directives–the ministry will consult with Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Many of the minority schools–which were established during the Ottoman Empire–and further protected by the Lausanne Treaty–are supposed to be able to make internal changes–structural and curriculum changes–as well as enrollment changes without having to ask for expressed permission from the education ministry.

According to the paper schools today operate under completely different rules. The schools open and close based on decisions made by the ministry and the curriculum for the schools are decided and dictated by the ministry.

In addition–no school may advocate or teach non-Turkish values–anti-Turkish interest ideas or anything outside of the Turkish ministry’s agenda. All assets of the schools belong to the education ministry–and each school must have the signature of a Turkish vice-principal next to the signature of the ethnic/minority principal in order to make documen’s valid and official.

According to a Marmara opinion piece–the reports have not been completely substantiated or confirmed by the education ministry–but any change and improvement–says the paper–will be a welcome one in a system weighed down by government bureaucracy and restrictions.

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