Turkey's education unions to protest violence in schools after principal shot dead by student

Multiple education workers’ unions in Turkey have announced strikes and protests to demand safe work environments after a high school student shot and killed their principal in Istanbul.  

Duvar English

Education workers’ unions in Turkey on May 8 announced protests to demand safe working conditions after the shooting incident that killed a high school principal.

Three unions (Türk Eğitim Sen, Hürriyetçi Eğitim Sen, and Eğitim Gücü Sen) announced one-day strikes. Accordingly, members of the union will not conduct classes or administrative work for a day.

The unions also called upon non-member colleagues to come into work wearing black ribbons.

The Education and Science Workers’ Union of Turkey (Eğitim-Sen) called for in-school protests and addressed the Education Ministry to demand increased precautions.

“We are enraged. Violence in schools has taken another colleague from us,” read the union’s social media post.  

“These violent incidents cannot be considered separately from the degradation of education workers, further provoked by ministry policies,” continued the statement. 

According to the union, the shooting was more than a simple rage fit, the nationality or identity of the attacker. 

The Education Ministry left teachers and school administrators alone as the only interlocutor against students and parents, stated the union.

Moreover, the minister’s statements attributed all shortcomings of the education system to teachers, and parents weaponized the Presidential Communication Center (CİMER) complaint system against teachers. 

These policies isolated education workers in the system and laid the groundwork that culminated in the attack. 

The union called upon the ministry to act immediately and reverse the policies that have caused the unsafe conditions. 

The incident occurred on May 7 at a private high school in Istanbul’s Fatih district. Student Y.K. shot at 74-year-old school principal İbrahim Oktugan twice. Oktugan died in hospital, and the student was apprehended by police. 

Another teacher working at the school alleged that Oktugan had expelled the student before the incident, according to reporting by the Anadolu Agency (AA).