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CHP, Turkey's main opposition party, holds 'Major Rally for Education'

CHP, Turkey's main opposition party, holds 'Major Rally for Education'


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Turkey's Republican People's Party (CHP) held a rally in support of the country's education system in Saraçhane, Istanbul on May 18. The rally was attended by CHP leader Özgür Özel, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, education unions, unnamed teachers, victims of the maintenance system and Istanbul residents.

Suat Özçağdaş, CHP vice president in charge of the Ministry of Education, took the stage first at the rally. He said they came together “to say no to interviews, yes to merit,” for unappointed teachers, and to oppose the new “outdated education curriculum.”

Although President and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promised a year ago to abolish the practice of interviewing civil servant candidates, teacher candidates are still interviewed before being appointed.

This practice was initiated by the AKP government and has been widely used, particularly in recent years, to employ pro-government figures in state institutions rather than more successful candidates.

After Özçağdaş, preschool teacher Hilal Başkapan, who has not been appointed for four years, took the stage. She said unappointed teachers “are forced to either work in schools for low wages or work as teachers paid for almost half the minimum wage.”

Kadem Özbay, President of the Education and Science Workers' Union (Eğitim-iş), thanked CHP leader Özel and his party for addressing their issue during a rally.

Özgür Tıraş, president of the Union of Teachers and Scientific Workers (Eğitim-Sen), also took the stage and criticized the new curriculum and the non-appointment of teachers.

“We know that equality between men and women has never existed in the education system. But now, when we thought this should be the case, we found ourselves faced with an opposite curriculum,” said Meral Güler, president of the Association of University Women of Turkey, who joined the platform name EŞİK.

The Turkish Ministry of Education has announced a new curriculum, which is the fourth curriculum overhaul in the past 22 years under AKP rule. The program used the words “morality” 61 times and “values” hundreds of times, and devoted an entire subsection to “preaching patience.”

The opposition deemed the program “outdated” and constituted a measure that would move the country further away from secularism.

Finally, CHP leader Özgür Özel took the stage and declared that he was organizing the first pro-education rally in the history of the Turkish Republic.

“There are unions here today. There are teachers, unnamed teachers, interview victims, those who oppose the curriculum, those who resist, those who are ignored, disrespected, those who cannot be heard even if they shout. We are here to make their voices heard and support their struggles,” Özel said.

Özel said the government had failed to keep its promises and that “from now on the streets and squares are ours.”

Özel recalled Erdoğan's criticism of the late Bülent Ecevit, then prime minister, in 2002. “I am addressing Erdoğan who criticized Ecevit that day saying that 'if you couldn't name, why 68,000 Did (teachers) graduate?' (Erdoğan,) Why did 1 million (teachers) graduate, why did you give them hope?

Özel said it would take 65 years for all teachers to be appointed if all education faculties were closed.

He also criticized the interview practice, saying the government retains it to appoint its own supporters.

Furthermore, Özel criticized the new curriculum, dubbed “the education system of the Turkish century.”

“Turkey's Century is the AKP's election slogan. National Education is for everyone. We cannot (cannot) make a party's electoral slogan the title of the National Education program. The model that you call the educational model is named after 100 years ago and carries the spirit of 200 years ago,” he noted.




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