MINISTER ÖZER MEETS WITH HIS BRITISH COUNTERPART GIBBVisiting London to hold official talks, the Minister of National Education Mahmut Özer met with the British Minister of State at the department for Education, Nick Gibb.
Reminding that Türkiye experienced a major earthquake disaster, Özer stated that approximately fifty thousand citizens have lost their lives. Özer underlined that the state mobilized all its resources to heal the wounds.
Stating that as the Ministry of National Education, they have taken fast steps to normalize education in order to normalize life, Minister Özer stressed that Türkiye's educations system, consisting 19 million students and 1.2 million teachers and their families, is not a sampling but rather it encompasses the population. Reminding that there are close to 7 million students and around 200 thousand teachers in the eleven provinces affected by the earthquake, Özer said that they made great efforts to open schools from the first moment and to continue education in areas such as tents and containers until the opening of the schools. Emphasizing that the schools are the strongest buildings in the region, Özer said that only 24 of the 20 thousand 868 schools in the region were demolished and that solid school buildings were actively used for the accommodation of the earthquake victims.
Noting that they restarted education in ten quake-hit provinces, Özer said that they have made a very important contribution to education for the normalization of life. Stressing that the return of the students to their hometowns is very important in terms showing how effective the educational institutions are in the normalization of life.
Stating that before this earthquake agenda, Özer stressed that the Ministry focused on three main areas: strengthening and universalization of pre-school education, strengthening vocational education and providing all kinds of multidimensional support for increasing the quality of teachers.
Referring to the schooling rates in Türkiye, Özer said that they have increased the schooling rates at the five year age group in preschool education from 65 percent to 99 percent. Underlining that vocational education is one of the most critical areas in Türkiye, the Minister stated that it has been an area where problems have been experienced for years and a field that qualified human resources does not prefer in terms of education. Referring to the meeting he had with his colleague Gibb four years ago, Özer said that Türkiye has made a very different initiative at the end of 2021, just like the initiatives made in England, and that the number of apprentices in vocational education in Türkiye has increased from approximately 160 thousand within a year to 1 million 400 thousand in a year. Özer stated that the needs of the labor market are met thanks to this initiative.
Stating that they made two different initiatives in order to support teachers in their professional development in a multidimensional way, Özer stated that they prepared a law that defines teaching as a career profession in February 2022 and focused on school-based training for teachers. Özer said that putting this into a plan was a paradigm shift. Reminding that they increased the training hours per teacher from 44 hours to 250 hours last year, Özer announced that they are planning to increase it to 350 hours this year.
Minister Özer stated that the ongoing cooperation between the two countries can be extended and continued in the field of teacher training. He also noted that approximately 500 thousand Turkish citizens live in the United Kingdom and that the majority of the students sent abroad for postgraduate education with MEB scholarships are in England.
Özer thanked the host Minister for the helpfulness and support that England showed towards Türkiye after the earthquake, and invited Gibb to Türkiye.
British Minister of State at the department for Education Gibb praises vocational education in Türkiye
Stressing that the earthquake in Türkiye was at the top of the British agenda Minister Gibb expressed his regrets and stated that the relief works carried out by the Turkish government after the earthquake was impressive. Gibb also added that it was very important to send thousands of textbooks and stationery sets to students in the region.
Minister Gibb emphasized that they highly value children studying in Turkish schools in the UK and undergraduate and postgraduate students studying in the UK. Mentioning the vocational training, Minister Gibb said that Türkiye's success in apprenticeship is valuable. Expressing that increasing the number of apprentices from 160 thousand to 1.4 million in a year is a great success, Gibb said that England has not yet achieved such success, but that they hope to work in this direction.
After the meeting, Minister Özer presented his British counterpart Gibb with the book he wrote called "The Universalization of Education in Türkiye and New Orientations".
Ambassador of Türkiye to London Osman Koray Ertaş, Deputy Ministers Petek Aşkar and Sadri Şensoy, and Director General for EU and Foreign Relations Hasan Ünsal were also present at the meeting.
Minister Özer visited Bett Exhibition in London
Minister Özer also visited the BETT Fair, which is held in London, the capital of England. BETT fair is considered the biggest education technology exhibition in the world.
Receiving information from relevant people at Bett that brings education and technology together, Minister Özer has listened to the presentations of the Director of Education Reform at Cambridge University, the Chair of the Foundation for Education Development Carl Ward. He also listened to the presentations of other experts on natural disasters in the context of education.