Turkish students sent to cult-run centers exempt from attendance in school

Some 300 students enrolled in a religious imam hatip secondary school in Istanbul were absent and studied at cult-run centers during the 2022-2023 academic year. The school’s teachers board zeroed out the absences of students.

Duvar English

In Istanbul’s Ümraniye district, 300 of the 900 students enrolled at Celaleddin Ökten Hoca İmam Hatip Secondary School did not attend classes for a full year during 2022-2023 academic year and were "educated" in centers belonging to Islamic cults, according to reporting of daily Sözcü.

İmam hatip schools are religious institutions which were founded by the state to educate children aged between 10-17 to be imams and preachers

Students only visited the school when there were exams and went to the cult-run centers for education at other times. In violation of the Education Ministry’s (MEB) regulations, the school administration convened the teachers board and zeroed out student absences.

Kadir Toruş, the head of teachers union Eğitim İş district branch, revealed the situation and said that the conditions were the same in other religious schools in Ümraniye district.

Toruş explained that students' report cards show that they have not been absent even for one day, and said "Some teachers forged the official documents. The school administration did not record the objection of the other teachers to the fraud.” 

He added that the teachers board normally discusses students' academic achievements throughout the year and make plans for the following year and added, “While at most 10-15 students in each school were passed with a board decision, 300 out of 900 students in this school were passed in this school."

Toruş criticized the MEB for making imam hatip schools a front for cults to capture students and added,“ The MEB first has been forcing parents to enroll students in imam hatip schools, and now smuggling students from imam hatip schools to cult.” 

The union will file a criminal complaint against the MEB on July 3.