DIRECTOR FOR EDUCATION AND SKILLS OF OECD SCHLEICHER: THERE IS LOT TO LEARN FROM TÜRKİYEMinister of National Education Mahmut Özer had an online meeting with Director for Education and Skills of OECD Andreas Schleicher, Head of the Policy Advice and Implementation Division (PAI) within the Directorate for Education and Skills Paulo Santiago and moderator of upcoming meeting Hekia Parata as a part of preparations for OECD Education Policies Committee (EDPC) Ministerial Meeting which will be held in Paris between December 7 and 8, 2022. After Minister Özer shared information about Türkiye's experience in education and prior topics in education namely equal opportunity in education, professional development programs for teachers and reinforcement of vocational education, Schleicher stressed that there is almost no OECD country which achieved to add value to these three areas at once and said, "There is lot to learn from the examples of Türkiye."
Minister of National Education Mahmut Özer shared Türkiye's experience in the reinforcement of equal opportunity and massification of education in its large scale education system with the OECD officials during the online meeting and stressed that they have defined three prior issues namely the reinforcement of equal opportunity in education, professional development programs for teachers and vocational education.
Noting that Türkiye has made very important investments in the last 20 years in an effort to increase the quality of human resources in all levels of education and complete the massification of education, Özer said that number of classroom was increased from 350 thousand to almost 1 million, number of teachers was increased from 500 thousand to 1.2 million and schooling rate of five year old children which was 10 percent was exceeded 90 percent during this period.
Özer stressed that all antidemocratic practices in education was lifted during the same period and despite its increasing number of students in the country, Türkiye achieved to increase the quality of education adding that high grades in international success surveys such as PISA and TIMSS are the indicators of this success.
Özer mentioned Türkiye's success in maintaining equal opportunities in education and this success must be shared with other countries.
"The Ministry of National Education focused on three main subjects within this year in order to carry our success to a higher level. Actually, these three subjects are not too different from each other, they complement each other," Özer stated.
"Steps have been taken to ensure that all children have access to quality education"
Özer said that his first and most prior issue is the reinforcement of equal opportunity in education and steps have been taken to ensure that all children have access to quality education. Noting that they focused on pre-school education, which is the stage where children's academic and non-cognitive skills are strengthened, Minister Özer said that when he took office, the number of independent kindergartens in Turkey was 2,782, the schooling rate of three year old children was 14 percent, schooling rate of four year children was 35 and it was 78 percent among five year old children. Özer stated that they set a goal to 3,000 kindergartens within a year in addition to existing 2 thousand 782 kindergartens.
"At this point, we are happy to open 1,700 kindergartens within a month. We will inaugurate a total of 4,000 kindergartens instead of 3,000 until the end of 2022. We achieved to increase the schooling rate of five year old children from 78 percent to 93 percent. Our goal is to complete the infrastructure required to increase this schooling rate to 100 percent within two or three months," stressed Özer.
"We achieve to increase training program per teacher figures to maximum level of last 30-40 years"
Stressing that the second crucial issue of the education system is to support personal and professional development of teachers, Özer said that they organized school based professional development training programs. Özer stated that they have increased the budget allocated for training programs by 35 times when compared to the training budget of last year. He also mentioned the benefits of Teachers Information Network that eliminated time and place limitation of face-to-face training programs.
"In 2020, the training program per teacher figure was 44 hours and it increased to 94 hours in 2021. In 2022, this figure reached 192 hours within nine month and reached the maximum level of the last 30- 40 years," Özer noted.
Özer mentioned the Teacher Professional Law which came into force on February 14, 2022 and this law defined the career system of teachers as head and expert teachers.
"We included private sector to the vocational education process"
Özer went on to say that another prior issue of his Ministry is vocational education and explained that vocational high schools and vocational education centers are giving vocational training in Türkiye. He said that vocational education centers are the equivalent of the dual vocational education system of Germany.
Özer stressed that his Ministry included the private sector in the vocational education process which led to an improvement in the quality education and increased the number of students enrolled in vocational education.
He added that amendment in the Vocational Education Law No. 3308 turned vocational education to a center of attraction for both employers and students and the number of apprentices and foremen increased from 159 thousand to 800 thousand and 59 within ten months.
Özer said, "When we consider our performance in the last year, I believe that we have achieved important developments within a short period of time and Türkiye will continue to write many other success stories in education. I think that the Ministerial Summit in Paris between December 7 and 8 will be an important opportunity to tell this success story in detail."
Schleicher: There is almost no OECD country which achieved to add value to these three areas at once
Director for Education and Skills of OECD Andreas Schleicher said after Minister Özer's speech that they always consider Türkiye as an important example adding that, "You have really succeeded in accession to education, maintaining equality and increasing quality in education. I think, there is almost no OECD country which achieved to add value to these three areas at once."
"We have a lot to learn from your examples"
Referring to Turkey's education budget, Schleicher stated that they were curious about Minister Özer's speech at the meeting to be held on 7-8 December and asked, "Have you faced any difficulties in achieving these successes and how did you overcome them? It will be of great benefit to other Ministers of Education if they focus on such issues. We look forward to it. We believe that you will bring a great added value to the meeting. You referred to the connection between the labor market and vocational education. You talked about eliminating inequalities. There is a lot to learn. You referred to the importance of the first years of life. Of course, we agree with that. These are very important areas."
"Türkiye has become one of the countries that took the fastest steps regarding digitalization during the epidemic process"
Stating that one of the most important issues for them is Turkey's experience during the Covid-19 pandemic, Schleicher said, "It was one of the surprising areas for OECD. With the global Covid-19 pandemic, you became one of the countries that took the fastest steps towards digitalization in education worldwide. You made it possible to benefit so quickly that so many people were able to continue their education there without interrupting or at least without major loss. It is one of the truly happy examples for us that such a quick action can be taken. If you can explain it, I think we will all benefit." he said.
Parata: I look forward to hear Türkiye's experience at the meeting
EDPC Ministerial Meeting Moderator and former Minister of Education of New Zealand Hekia Parata thanked Minister Özer for clearly summarizing such a complex structure within a short period of time and said that he is looking forward to hearing Türkiye's experience at the meeting.
Minister Özer said that success motivation will increase when similar stories are shared despite the differences and all participants have a lot to learn from each other.
Meanwhile, Turkish Permanent Representative to the OECD Kerem Alkin said that the upcoming meeting will be important for sustainable development in the world.
The Undersecretary of the Permanent Representation of Turkey to the OECD Şule Gürel, Deputy Ministers Petek Aşkar and Sadri Şensoy and General Manager of European Union and Foreign Relations Hasan Ünsal also attended the meeting.