Turkish National Intelligence Organization holds art competition for children

Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has announced a painting and letter competition for children on topics such as “security,” “intelligence,” and “secret agent.” The Teachers’ Union of Turkey (Eğitim-Sen) has condemned the event for being detrimental to children’s psychology.  

Duvar English

The Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) on April 8 announced its painting and letter-writing competition for the National Children’s Day.

Children between ages 5 and 14 were expected to write letters or create paintings around the themes of “security,” “intelligence,” and “secret agent,” for the competition. The selected works would be published on MİT’s website, announced the flier.

The announcement for the competition features a cartoon "secret agent". 

The Education and Science Workers Union (Eğitim-Sen) disapproved of the competition for going against children's psychology and violating principles of pedagogy.

It urged the MİT to call off the competition immediately. 

The union said, “These themes are unsuitable for children’s reality and beyond the scope of MİT’s duty.”

The union questioned whether MİT obtained the necessary permits from the Education Ministry (MEB).

“If it didn’t, this is a problem. If it did and the MEB allowed the competition, this is a bigger problem,” the union stated. 

The union held that the event did not fit in with the spirit of April 23, National Children’s Day.

April 23 is a national holiday commemorating the establishment of the Turkish Parliament in 1920. 

The union criticized the MİT for organizing an event that would adversely affect children’s mental processes, comparing it to the “Values education” (ÇEDES) program of the Religious Affairs Directory (Diyanet).

“We cannot condone state organizations such as the Diyanet and the MİT to exceed their constitutionally-drawn limits, and organize events for children,” declared the Union. 

The state-backed and highly controversial ÇEDES (“I am Sensitive to my Environment, I Stand Up for my Values”) project is an initiative by Turkey’s Diyanet, Education Ministry, and Youth and Sports Ministry.

The project aims to deliver “values education” to students but has been criticized for shaping behavior aligned with the Turkish government’s conservative ideals.