Turkey sees 1.2 million children out of formal education

A total of 1.2 million children were left out of education at primary, secondary, and high school levels in Turkey, according to the formal education data shared by the Education Ministry.

Duvar English

Approximately 1.2 million students in Turkey were supposed to be officially enrolled in schools but were not currently attending in 2023, according to the Education Ministry’s "Education in Numbers from Past to Present" reports.

A compulsory 12-year education system is implemented in Turkey and children who start primary school at the age of six graduate from high school at the age of 17.

Enrollment rates were 93.8 in primary school, 91.2 in middle school and 91.7 in high school, according to the reporting of the daily BirGün based on ministry data.

While the decrease in the schooling rate as the grade level increases was noteworthy, the number of children who were not in school has also come to the fore. 

According to ministry data, while the primary school-age population stood at 5.24 million, only 4.92 million children were enrolled in school, leaving nearly 322,000 children out of school.

The school-age population in middle school reached 5.03 million, while in high school it reached 5.09 million. However, the number of students enrolled in education was 4.6 million in middle school and 4.66 million in high school. In middle school, 442,000 children and in high school, 443,000 should be registered in formal schools but were not. 

In total across the three levels, 1.20 million children should have been in compulsory education but were not enrolled in schools. The ministry did not have data or explanation regarding these missing children.

According to the daily BirGün, a significant number of children have been forced to attend illegal religious "schools" controlled by Islamic cults. Some of these illegal institutions' websites indicated that children were not being sent to formal schools. The estimated number of children studying in illegal courses in Istanbul alone was close to 10,000.

While the problem of child labor has been also growing day by day, the Labor and Social Security Ministry has cut the budget allocated for this field. The ministry, which increased its budget in all items, reduced the budget for "combating child labor" from 41 million Turkish liras in 2023 to 28.68 million liras this year.

According to a survey conducted by mobile teams of the Family and Social Services Ministry, 46,754 children are employed on the streets. According to official data, the number of children aged 15-17 working on the streets increased by 110,000 compared to 2011. The rate of increase in the number of child workers, which reached 620,000, was 20 percent.