Reversal of Galatasaray University's French teacher regulation depends on France: Turkish education watchdog

Council of Higher Education (YÖK) president Yekta Saraç has said that Turkey will take “the necessary step” on its recent regulation of mandating French teachers at Istanbul's Galatasaray University to have a certain knowledge of Turkish, if France similarly takes a step back from its educational changes. Saraç's statement confirmed that the condition imposed on Galatasaray University's French teachers came in response to France's reforms in its education system.

This file photo shows Istanbul's Galatasaray University.

Duvar English

Yekta Saraç, the president of the Council of Higher Education (YÖK), has signaled Turkey might reverse its requirement that all French teachers at Istanbul's Galatasaray University have Turkish language proficiency equal to or above level B2, if France similarly reverses its educational requirements for Turkish teachers.

“France expects us to directly accept the decisions that it takes, but does not accept us to take decisions in reciprocity. Naturally, we are seeking equal treatment. Our sensitivity about Galatasaray University's unique structure continues. We will take the necessary step once France changes its attitude. It is not right to attribute political meanings to this decision,” Saraç told Habertürk columnist Nagihan Alçı on Feb. 19.

As per the instruction of the Council of Higher Education, French teachers at Galatasaray University are now required to have a Turkish language proficiency equal to or above level B2. Teachers who do not fulfill this requirement will not be allowed to receive work permits or will have their permits extended.

Turkey's recent move is said to be in retaliation for education changes which French President Emmanuel Macron introduced last year as part of his fight against “Islamist separatism.” Among these educational changes is the requirement that all Turkish teachers in France have a minimum B2 French language proficiency.

Habertürk columnist Alçı said that Saraç is "very disturbed about France's attitude towards academics and teachers coming from Turkey." 

However, critics say that the French government announced the changes in the education system a year before and therefore gave the teachers the necessary time to gain a decent knowledge of the language, whereas Ankara's requirement came suddenly in February and threatens French teachers' presence in Turkey.