Insufficient government spending draws poor children out of school, report finds

According to Istanbul Planning Agency's (İPA) recent report, children in Turkey face difficulties in accessing to education due to the government’s spending cuts.

Duvar English

Opposition-run Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s Planning Agency’s (İPA) Oct. 23 report “The educational cost of the economic crisis” revealed the burden placed on families with increasing costs of education.

As the official budget allocated to education dwindles in the face of inflation, poor families make cuts in education and healthcare costs. 

The report reminded that the education budget constituted 3.48% of the gross domestic product in 2023. This is a decrease from 2016’s share of 4.21%.

The report found that poor families suffer the most from this decrease in budget allocations. The number of students getting formal education has decreased, and approximately 2.5 million people have switched to distance education plans offered by the government. 

The report also showed that due to the decreasing government spending, education could no longer be considered a freely administered constitutional right. Quality education is accessible to high and middle-class families that can afford private schools because of political considerations such as “shrinking government spending, educators’ stagnant conditions, unfair and insufficient teacher appointments,” according to the report. 

“The gap widens between private schools with considerable fees and public schools where teachers and parents are forced to take initiative for any costs,” noted the report. It further warned that withdrawing from education can result in child labor or cases of child marriage. 

The report calculated that with soaring costs of stationary, school uniforms, and commissaries in the last year have increased the total cost of going to school by %87.5 in Istanbul. 

The report concluded by reiterating the importance of equal access to education, independent of socioeconomic status. 

With the government submitting budget proposals for the new year, disproportionate shares allocated to the Religious Affairs Directorate and Communications Directorate draw criticism. The Union for Education and Science Workers had recently voiced the needs and grievances of education workers, and their unfair compensations in the face of inflation.