Today’s Zaman, Yonca Poyraz Doğan
The evidence says that going to prep schools increases a student’s probability of entering university by 10 percent. This might mean a huge difference for a student. The second finding is that sending a student to a prep school is a big financial burden on a family. Third, if a child does well in school, the family of the student tries to find financial ways to send the student to a prep school; this and the first finding tell us that disadvantaged children can socially move upward if they go to prep schools. If you put all of this together, we are not convinced that shutting down prep schools will either improve quality of education in Turkey or increase educational equality,” said Batuhan Aydagül, director of the Education Reform Initiative (ERI or Eğitim Reformu Girişimi, ERG).
In a surprise move, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) decided in November of last year to close down the prep schools, stirring a massive debate. These schools, with their affordable fees, are regarded by mostly middle or low-income families as an equalizer of educational opportunities. The AK Party’s bill was put to a vote and passed by Parliament on March 7, and signed into law by President Abdullah Gül on March 12. The law states that prep schools will be allowed to operate until Sept. 1, 2015, and all preparatory courses will be shut down after this date.
This is happening when Turkey prepares to celebrate April 23 Children’s Day, when politicians utter big words in regards to how important all the country’s children are to the nation. However, Aydagül says that the government is ignoring disadvantaged children across the country.