Duvar English

The Diyarbakır-based Dicle University has denied that it changed language of instruction from Kurdish to Turkish for courses given at the Kurdish language and literature department.

The university said in a statement on Aug. 3 that the medium of instruction had been always Turkish for the Kurdish studies courses and there “has been no change with regards to the status and language of instruction of these [Kurdish studies] programs since they have been launched.”

“In a similar way, the medium of instruction of all language departments at our university, such as English Language, Arabic Language, Persian Language, is in Turkish,” it said.

The university’s statement came after former academic Selim Temo said last week that Turkish became the de facto medium of instruction for courses given at the Kurdish language and literature departments at Turkish universities, in line with a decision of the Council of Higher Education (YÖK). He also said that students enrolled at these departments would no longer be allowed to write their dissertations in Kurdish.

Temo said that although universities’ official systems always showed medium of instruction as Turkish, this was not the case when it came to implementation, but with this new rule, Kurdish would no longer be allowed to be used during the lectures.

Temo used to be an associate professor in the field of Kurdish studies at Mardin Artuklu University before being sacked by a statutory decree (KHK) in 2017 for signing a peace petition that criticized the Turkish government’s actions in southeastern Turkey.

The Kurdish language and literature department exists in four universities in Turkey: Dicle University, Mardin Artuklu University, Bingöl University and Muş University.

Education in mother tongue has been a pivotal demand of Turkey’s Kurds. The Turkish government introduced Kurdish as an elective course in schools and launched Kurdish studies programs at universities during the Kurdish peace process, also known as the Kurdish opening or the resolution process. But today, Kurdish language education is no longer said to be high on Ankara’s agenda as the peace process collapsed.