MINISTER ÖZER MADE COMMENTS ABOUT EDUCATION AGENDA IN CNN TÜRK LIVE BROADCASTMinister of National Education Mahmut Özer was the guest of the Neutral Zone news program of CNN Türk tv channel. Answering questions about the education agenda, Özer stated that the system works without hitch since the beginning of full-time face-to-face education which was approximately 2 months ago. "We no longer talk about suspension of face-to-face education" said Özeri "we will open free support courses for 7th, 8th, 11th and 12th grade students after the end of mid-term holiday."
Answering questions of Ahmet Hakan during the Neutral Zone news program, Minister of National Education Mahmut Özer stated that all developed countries of the world aim at keeping schools open. Noting that schools must not be viewed only as place of education as they are the places where students improve their psychosocial development, participate cultural, artistic and sports activities and improve their non-cognitive skills which is very important in peer education, Özer went on to say the following:
"Schools were closed for approximately 1,5 years. Yes, the entire world went through a period which it did not expect and experienced before. Turkey went through the same period, too and the Ministry of National Education successfully carried out distance education on all digital platforms. Although they did not have any previous experience about giving education in digital environments, our teachers worked with sacrifice. At this point, we have accession to vaccination and we follow mask, social distancing and hygiene rules. There are no other measures other than these. In this light, we can keep our schools open by following these rules as suspension of education is an important factor in equal opportunity in education."
"Education system made up of 18 million students and 1.2 million teachers is the universe of Turkey, not its sample. Education environment must be normalized in order to normalize Turkey," said Minister Özer.
"As of today, number of closed classrooms is 1721"
Stressing that his Ministry is managing this process in cooperation with the Ministry of health and Health Science Board, Minister Özer said, "For the moment, schools are the places which implements rational Covid-19 pandemic measures in Turkey. Due to this reason, schools are the safest place."
"There are 71 thousand and 320 schools in our education system and 57 thousand and 108 of them are state schools. As of today, the number of closed classrooms is 1721. Since the beginning of face-to-face education, the rate of closed classrooms due to pandemic remained under 1 percent. We will keep schools open until all classrooms are closed. Process is under control, attendance of students is very high. Approximately two months have passed since the opening of face-to-face education. We did not hear any complaints from parents. For example, I have visited many cities in the country such as Şırnak, Diyarbakır, Adana, Antalya, Ağrı and Balıkesir and I saw that students are happy to be back at school."
Stressing that the rate of teachers who got one dose of vaccination is 93 percent and teachers who got two doses of vaccination reached 87 percent while the rate of teachers who are immune are around 5 percent, Özer stated that the number of covid-19 cases among teachers are very low.
"We will open free support courses for 7th, 8th, 11th and 12th grade students after the end of mid-term holiday."
Reminding that the priority of his Ministry is to keep schools open, Özer said that they also developed programs in order to support students.
"We have designed additional support programs about both learning loss and psychosocial resilience. Our teachers repeated classes at the beginning of the new school year. We also have support courses. Last week, approximately 4,5 million students entered knowledge assessment exams held in an effort to determine learning loss among 7th, 8th, 11th and 12th grade students. We will open free support courses for 7th, 8th, 11th and 12th grade students after the end of mid-term holiday," said Özer.
Özer noted that 256 Guidance and Research Centers (RAM) in different parts of the country gave psychosocial resilience support to more than 1 million teachers, 20 million students and 4 million parents.
Answering a question about what kind of measures my Ministry would follow in case of a possible increase in the number of positive cases due to weather conditions, Minister Özer stressed that the duration of classes will not be reduced.
"Number of students in a classroom is below 25 in 850 thousand classrooms. It will not be rational to reduce the duration of classes due to the limited number of crowded classrooms," said Özer.
"We must focus on equal opportunity in education"
Özer stressed that the Ministry focused on equal opportunity in education, reduction of success differences among schools and establishment of a system in which parents send their children to the nearest school in the neighborhood.
"Our first priority is to increase accession to preschool education. Preschool education is one of the most important education types that improve not only cognitive but also non-cognitive skills of children. It is also the cheapest," stated Özer adding that they aim at providing 100 percent accession to preschool education for 5 year old children.
"We will open 5 thousand kindergarten classrooms in the second term of this school year."
Noting that they will open 5 thousand kindergarten classrooms in the second term of this school year, Özer said, "This will allow us to increase the schooling rate of the 5 year old group from 78 percent to 85 percent. We have allocated required funds in order to complete renovations and constructions."
Minister Özer reminded that reducing differences among schools and professional improvement training programs for teachers are among their prior goals and noted that quality of teachers is the strongest part of the education system.
Minister Özer added that another prior concern of his Ministry is the reinforcement of vocational education and vocational education is the strongest instrument in reduction of young unemployment.