Turkish main opposition CHP holds 'Great Education Rally'

Turkish main opposition CHP held the “Great Education Rally” in Istanbul to address the problems of unappointed teachers and the new curriculum. CHP leader Özel said it would take 65 years for all waiting teachers to be appointed if all education faculties were closed.

Photo: ANKA

Duvar English

Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) on May 18 held a rally for the education system in the country in Istanbul’s Saraçhane. The rally saw the attendance of CHP leader Özgür Özel, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, education unions, the unappointed teachers, the victims of the interview system and Istanbulites.

CHP Deputy Chair in charge of the Education Ministry, Suat Özçağdaş, took the stage first in the rally. He said they gathered “to say no to interviews, yes to merit,” for the unappointed teachers, and to oppose the newly implemented “the outdated education curriculum.”

Despite President and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promising to abolish the practice of interviewing civil servant candidates one year ago, the teacher candidates are still interviewed before being appointed.

The practice was started by the AKP government in and has been widely used especially in the latest years to employ pro-government figures in the state institutions rather than more successful candidates.

After Özçağdaş, preschool teacher Hilal Başkapan, who has not been appointed for four years took the stage. She said the unappointed teachers “are forced to either work in schools for low wages or work as paid teachers for almost half the minimum wage.”

Kadem Özbay, the chair of the Education and Science Workers Union (Eğitim-iş), thanked CHP leader Özel and his party for addressing their problem at a rally.

Özgür Tıraş, the chair of the Teachers and Science Workers Union (Eğitim-Sen), also took the stage and criticized the new curriculum, and the non-appointment of teachers.

“We know that equality between men and women has never existed in the education system. But now, when we thought it should be, we were faced with the opposite curriculum,” said Meral Güler, the chair of the University Women's Association of Turkey joining on behalf of the EŞİK Platform.

Turkey’s Education Ministry announced a new curriculum, which is the fourth overhaul of the curriculum in the last 22 years under the AKP rule. The curriculum used the words “morality” 61 times, and “values” some hundreds of times, and allocated a whole subsection to “preaching patience.”

The opposition deemed the curriculum “outdated” and a step that would take the country one step further away from secularism.

Lastly, CHP leader Özgür Özel took the stage, saying they were holding the first rally for education in the history of the Turkish Republic.

“There are unions here today. There are teachers, unappointed teachers, interview victims, those who object to the curriculum, those who resist, those who are ignored, despised, those who cannot be heard even if they cry out. We are here to give voice to their voices and support their struggles,” Özel said.

Özel said the government did not fulfill its promises, thus, “from now on, the streets and squares are ours.” 

Özel reminded Erdoğan’s criticism to then-PM late Bülent Ecevit back in 2002. “I am addressing Erdoğan who criticized Ecevit that day saying that 'if you couldn't appoint, why did 68,000 (teachers) get their diplomas?' (Erdoğan,) Why did 1 million (teachers) get their diplomas, why did you give them hope?”

Özel said it would take 65 years for all teachers to be appointed if all education faculties were closed. 

He also criticized the interview practice, saying the government keeps it to appoint their own partisans.

Moreover, Özel criticized the new curriculum, dubbed as the “Education System of the Century of Turkey.

“Century of Turkey is the AKP's election slogan. National Education covers everyone. You (cannot) make the election slogan of a party the title of the National Education curriculum. The model you call the education model bears the name of 100 years ago and carries the spirit of 200 years ago,” he noted.