Educators protest lacking teaching profession bill

Educators and union representatives have organized a week-long protest at the Turkish capital Ankara’s Parliament Park, criticizing the proposed amendment to the Teaching Profession Law for the lack of provisions to improve the conditions of private sector teachers.

"No to a bill that disregards our rights and demands," reads the banner of Eğitim-Sen protestors.

Duvar English

As the Turkish Education Ministry has presented its proposed Teaching Profession Law amendment to the parliamentary committee, educators have taken to the streets in protest of the lack of provisions for private sector teachers’ rights in the bill.

Some educators have been expressing their demands through various protests and activities at Parliament Park in the capital province of Ankara for days. Despite all objections, eight articles passed the committee.

Zülküf Güneş, General Secretary of the Education and Science Workers Union (Eğitim Sen), listed the shortcomings of the bill during a committee meeting. Güneş stated that the bill did not include any regulations for millions of educators, the teachers in the private sector. 

He said, "We reject this bill because it usurps teachers' rights, discredits the teaching profession, and will lead the education system into a deeper crisis. We propose withdrawing it and working together with all stakeholders to prepare a genuine professional law," according to the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA). 

Güneş also found the professional competence provision on the bill unacceptable. Accordingly, the bill proposes that teachers whose performances are determined insufficient be transferred to an academy and, if they fail, be appointed as civil servants in the general administrative services class. 

“This provision seriously threatens job security for teachers and is unacceptable. Given the arbitrary practices in past interviews, it is not difficult to foresee that this process will be problematic from the start,” Güneş said.

Additionally, the bill included tenure appointments, which could lead to arbitrary appointments and entrench inequality for “non-compliant” teachers.

Another potentially problematic provision was the background and archival checks proposed in the bill, which would threaten employment for teachers from oppositional backgrounds. 

Güneş pointed out that what was “not” on the bill was even more important than what was on it. The bill did not address professional honor, merit, justice and equality, safety, occupational diseases, violence, mobbing, gender equality, job security, the rights of disabled teachers, and the rights of teachers in the private sector, according to the union representative. 

Emphasizing that the bill contradicts democratic principles, Güneş said, "With the enactment and implementation of this bill, the ruling AKP aims to complete the ideological transformation that it has been preparing for years. This law will create new barriers for marginalized groups such as Kurds, Alevis, and socialists from becoming civil servants.” 

Güneş emphasized that they would continue their protests against the bill, saying, "We will be on watch at Parliament Park. We invite other unions and all educational workers to join us in our fight to protect our rights and to prepare a professional law in line with our demands."