MINISTER ÖZER MET WITH SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS IN HATAYMinister of National Education Mahmut Özer got together with school principals working in the city as a part of the 2022-2023 School Year Assessment Meeting.
Minister Özer expressed his happiness to continue face-to-face education without any interruption after the long close down during the pandemic.
Noting that schools are the places that equalize disparities in the society and those who need schools most are suffered most when schools close down, Özer said, "We have provided safest environments at schools under extraordinary conditions and saved this generation from the distance education trap. It was a crucial move for the future of this country."
Özer stated that the education system in Türkiye has 19 million students and 1.2 million teachers and normalization of the country was not possible without normalizing this giant system under extraordinary conditions such as Covid-19 pandemic and thanked teachers and school principals. Özer reminded that he had opened schools on September 6 only a month after he was named as the Minister of National Education despite pressures for prolonging the summer break.
Stressing that he had started the preparations for the new school year right after the end of 2021-2022 school year on June 17, Özer noted that they wanted to make a nice start while heading for the 100th anniversary of the Republic by lifting chronic problems in education.
This year, the Ministry employed 60 thousand janitors a week before the beginning of the new school year. The Ministry also prepared supplementary sources for students and distributed 160 million free supplementary sources in addition to 153 million free textbooks to students. Minister Özer reminded the Ministry directly allocated budgets for new school preparations to school administrations for the first time and the budget allocated to schools reached 6 billion and 200 million liras. 4 billion and 100 million of the budget was used for stationary, minor repairs and other expenses like hygiene and remaining 2 billion liras are still in the accounts of schools.
Mentioning transformation in education in the last twenty years, Özer said that the most important instrument in increasing the quality of human resources is education.
Özer stated "At the beginning of 2000s, we experienced antidemocratic practices such as headscarf ban and coefficient practice and schooling rate was below 50 percent. Schooling rate of five year old children was 11 percent and the schooling rate in secondary education was 44 percent. But we have achieved a 3 dimensional success story in the last 20 years. First of all, number of classrooms increased from 300,000 to 857,000 without making any discrimination between the regions of the country. Secondly, the schooling rate of five year old children increased from 11 percent to 97 percent. Schooling rate which was 44 percent reached to 95 percent. Schooling rate in primary school increased to 99.63 percent, in other words, 100 percent. We implemented social policies in order to maintain this success. We provide scholarships, dormitories, transformation and free meals to the children of disadvantaged families. We serve free meals to 1.5 million students."
Özer went on to say that: "We democratized the education system. There was a headscarf ban and coefficient practice and our country paid the price of these practices. We lifted them without making any sacrifice from the quality. For the last twenty years, Türkiye has been gradually improving its grades in international student success surveys such as PISA and TIMMS. Despite our growing education system, classroom and student per student rates continued to increase and reached OECD average. There are only a few countries that achieved this. In the 2000s, there were 2.3 million secondary school students and now we have 6.5-7 million secondary school students. Number of teachers which was 500,000 in the 2000s reached 1.2 million today and the great majority of them are women," stated Özer.
Noting that Türkiye solved accessibility to education problem for the first time and focused on increasing the quality in education during this period, Özer said, "I would like to express my gratitude to President Erdoğan for making positive discrimination for education and allocating largest share of budget."
Özer reminded that his Ministry focused on three subjects and said: "First of all, preschool education is the most crucial stage of education. It was not possible for us to reinforce equal opportunities in education and decrease the success difference between schools without eliminating disadvantages and limitations in the accessibility to preschool education. Schooling rate of five year old children was 11 percent in the 2000s. We increased the schooling rate of three year old children which was 9 percent in August 2021 to 16 percent today. Schooling rate of 4 year old children increased from 16 percent to 35 percent and the schooling rate of five year old children increased from 65 percent to 97 percent and it will reach 100 percent until the end of this year. There were 2.782 kindergartens and we prepared a project with the support of Emine Erdoğan in order to inaugurate 3.000 kindergartens. We inaugurated 2,050 kindergartens and 15,500 preschool classrooms within a year."
Özer noted that education investment has a minimum cost but has the maximum long term profit adding that preschool education reinforces both cognitive and psychosocial skills of students and increases their chances in education and employment in the future.
Concerning the second prior subject of the Ministry, Özer said that the Ministry included the private sector to the education process and vocational high schools increased their production capacity from 200 million liras to 1 billion and 162 million in 2021. Goal set for 2022 is 1 and a half billion liras. He reminded that academically successful students started to prefer vocational high schools where they had the opportunity to learn while practicing.
The Ministry has founded 55 R&D centers at these schools and improved intellectual property rights capacity.
Özer stated that, "Annual number of registered products of these schools was 2.9. In 2022, these schools got the registration of 8,300 products and they started to export their products."
Özer mentioned the role of amendment in the Vocational Education Law in the improvement of vocational education and the number of apprentices and foremen enrolled in vocational education centers increased from 159 thousand to 1 billion and 15 thousand.
Third focus of the Ministry is the personal and professional development programs for teachers. Özer noted that they have initiated school based training programs for teachers and increased the budget allocated to teacher training programs from 8.9 million to 292 million. 210 million of this budget was allocated to the schools.
Özer went on to say that: "We have founded professional development communities and started a mobility program for teachers and school administrators. We founded Teacher Information Network that allowed teachers to attend online training programs. Training per teacher was 44 hours in 2020, it increased to 94 hours in 2021 and finally reached 194 hours in 2022 while our goal was 194 hours. For the first time, we exceeded the OECD average for the first time."
Özer mentioned Teacher Profession Law and said career steps practice is optional and the expert and head teacher exam does not measure efficiency but makes assessment about training programs.
"Nobody can think of teachers better than us"
Özer mentioned calls for boycott of the Teacher Profession Law and said that some circles consider this issue as a political matter while approaching the elections.
"There are many troll accounts, we detect each and every one of them. We did not take a step back because there is no problem and are irrational about the exams. 95 percent of teachers who are qualified to these positions applied for the head and expert teacher exams. 99 percent of the applicants completed required training programs and 98 percent of teachers who completed the training programs will enter the exams. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all teachers who do not give credit to boycott calls and trolls. Nobody can think of teachers better than us. We are working hard in order to improve the working conditions of teachers in our education system," said Özer.
Özer noted that the Council of State rejected objections about the law and the Constitutional Court did not make its decision yet.
"Some circles demanded us to postpone the exam. We already printed the exam questions and they will be distributed to all countries on Tuesday. We also filed a complaint about those who claim that exam questions are exposed," stressed Özer.
Özer said that they have been working in an effort to reinforce the school climate and provide a safe and healthy environment at schools.
"We will continue to increase the quality in education, reinforce equal opportunities in education and increase the accessibility to quality education regardless of their economic level," stated Özer.
"We achieved each of our goals within fifteen months"
"We achieved each of our goals within fifteen months. We have founded 16,361 libraries within two months and the number of books at school libraries increased from 28 million to 103 million within a year. We have converted 2,000 vacant village schools to village public centers. We will reopen 6,970 village schools as kindergarten, primary school and public education centers until the end of 2023. Our success reveals that if you focus and plan your budget, you will achieve a lot within a short period of time and it is possible to solve chronic problems," Özer added.