13 February 2017

Turkey’s new curriculum: More Erdoğan, more Islam

Some of the changes appeared innocuous: Children will be taught about renowned Turkish and Muslim scientists alongside Einstein and Newton, for instance. But secular-leaning Turks were enraged at the plan to remove classes on evolution and the country’s founding fathers, accusing the government of injecting education with its conservative-religious ideology.

Egitim-Sen, a teachers’ union often critical of government policy, worried that the draft curriculum would encourage a “religious and nationalist” mindset, with its emphasis on “Turkishness” and Sunni Islam. Meanwhile, parliamentarians of the largest opposition party CHP condemned what they saw as the “erasure” of the Turkish republic’s founding president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk: The education ministry wanted to cut back on classes covering him and his successor, Ismet Inönü.

The government hit back: The new syllabus would teach Turkey’s history “from the perspective of a national and moral education,” the education ministry declared. The aim was to “protect national values,” added the undersecretary of education, Yusuf Tekin. Moreover, the ministry pledged it would alter its teaching of religion to comply with the European Court of Human Rights, replacing phrases such as “our religion” with the more neutral “Islamic religion.” [POLITICO] Read more