The public education centers under the Directorate of Lifelong Learning of Turkey’s National Education Ministry have announced a recent decision to cancel all courses on Anatolian folk dances indefinitely.
As Serbay Mansuroğlu from opposition newspaper BirGün reported, the Directorate’s letter to the centers indicated that the reason for the decision to be taken was ‘low level of participation’ to the related courses.
The public education centers (Halk Eğitim Merkezleri) provide courses and workshops to both children and adults on a variety of fields with the purpose of contributing to their socio-cultural development and well-being.
The announcement of the Directorate mentioned that Folk Dance courses were ‘to be cancelled as of 1 August 2017 and kept inactive until a next command’.
Educators and experts talking to BirGün to comment on the decision of the Directorate emphasized folk dance courses are activities that ‘should be promoted rather than banned’ since it gives the participants a chance to take part, at very low costs, in an activity that ‘gives them health benefits both physically and socially’.
Some other experts, as well as, politicians from the opposition, reminded an earlier statement made on social media last year by an assistant principle from pro-AKP trade union Eğitim-Bir Sen and strongly criticized the decision of the directorate of the National Education Ministry, defining it as a ‘reflection of bigotry’ spreading all across the country at all fields of life under the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party).
In a post on Facebook, the assistant principal Nevzat Turan had deemed the Anatolian folk dances as ‘acts against Islam’ since ‘women and men dance side by side’. “Would a perpetrator of an honor killing ever allow such thing”, Turan had said in reference to the dances.
Opposition members also criticized the excessive efforts of the education ministry in expanding Koran courses in partnership with the Religion Affairs Presidency (Diyanet), while banning dance courses.