As the academic year in Turkey started with a number of issues, ranging from a controversial revisions in the curriculum to thousands of teachers still waiting to be appointed, 13 institutions, including the Alevi-Bektashi Federation, trades union Eğitim Sen, and United Haziran (June) Movement, called on the members of the public to raise their voice against the reactionary policies of the current government in the education fields.
As Zeynep Kuray from BirGün reported, thousands gathered in İstanbul’s Kartal district on Sunday (September 17) to demand a ‘secular, scientific, and democratic education system’.
Along with members of democratic forces of the country, lawmakers and members from opposition parties CHP (Republican People’s Party) and HDP (People’s Democratic Party) also attended the rally and vowed to ‘stand against bigotry and fight for the future of the country’.
In a speech delivered before the crowd, Eğitim Sen’s head Feray Aytekin Aydoğan expressed their demand for an education system that is ‘free, scientific, secular, and equal’. Demand of the country’s Kurdish population to have ‘education in native tongue’ was also expressed by both Aydoğan and the groups that participated.
Dismissals of thousands of teachers with statutory decrees and the situation regarding the jailed and hunger-striking teachers Nuriye Gülmen and Semih Özakça were also addressed during the meeting as a problem that beckons an immediate resolution.
Recent protocols of the education ministry signed with religious groups to give them authority in organization of extra-curricular activities; government officials’ open calls for a ‘revengeful and religious generation’; and, the reactionary policies – such as the exclusion of theory of evolution and inclusion of jihad in the curricula – were criticized.
The participants demanded the current regulations in education field to be repealed in order for a democratic, scientific, and secular system to be adapted instead.
‘We are not going to surrender to darkness’, the speakers and the members of the democratic forces said.