"Ministry of National Education continues to reinforce science and arts centers which are providing important support for the improvement of skills of special talented children in 81 cities of the country."

The Ministry of National Education attaches great importance to the education of special talented students and students who need special education. These services are coordinated and carried out by the Directorate General of Special Education and Guidance Services. Within this framework, Science and Arts Centers (BİLSEM) are providing important support for the improvement of skills of special talented children in 81 cities of the country.  These centers also provide support to the struggle against the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, BİLSEM focused on patent, useful model, design and brand production and made important strives. On the other hand, all BİLSEM are reinforced with libraries, design and skill workshops. Deputy Minister of National Education Mahmut Özer made an important interview on this subject to a newspaper.
Here are the excerpts from this interview:
All countries pay special attention to the education of gifted and special talented students. Can you provide information about the general tendency in the world?
Education of special talented students is among the important issues of the education world. Especially with the globalization of education, place of education of special talented students in the existing education environment became an important topic. Especially in the beginning of 20th century, identification process entered a different phase with the common use of intelligence tests and IQ scores became an active part of identification. Another important development was the launch of Sputnik to space by the Russians. This event was perceived as a national security matter. In the light of these developments, education of gifted people turned into a matter of national security and many different models and various different tests were conducted within this context. Most recently, definition of gifted persons became wider and instead of IQ scores, multi-dimensional methods were developed. Although, approach to the education of special talented students vary from country to country in Continental Europe, they are assessed under the topic of equality of education. Use of different approaches for special talented students in the education system usually associated with elitism and considered as violation against equality of education in some countries such as Finland.  Of course, this does not mean that special talented students are neglected in these countries.
If they are not neglecting, then what do they do?
These countries constructed their education system in a way that allows all students to improve their talents. In other words, they adapted an inclusive and individualized education approach. This approach naturally covers students with special talents. Of course, role of the teacher has a great importance in such a system. This new approach will be challenging for teachers who are used to teach homogenous classes.
What is the situation in Turkey?
During the same period, Turkey was taking similar steps. For example, Turkey started similar talent group implementation in education in 1959. Turkey also adapted legal regulations for sending special talented students abroad for academic and artistic education. In 1964, Ankara Science High School was founded. There were different attempts and some of them were halted. Establishment of fine arts and sports high schools were actually the outcome of this approach. Directorate General of Special Education and Guidance Services affiliated to the Ministry has been consistently carrying out similar studies. In line with this purpose, the first Science and Arts Center was founded in 1995 and such centers have been supporting students to improve their skills after school since then. Number of these centers and students coming to these centers are gradually increasing.
What is the number of BİLSEM centers and how many students are coming to these centers?
Currently, there are 182 BİLSEM centers in 81 cities of the country and 63 thousand students are coming to these centers for support. When we examine the figures of the last decade, we see an important increase in the number of these centers and students who benefit from them.
61% of Teachers Have Master's Degree
What is the number of teachers working in BİLSEM centers?
There are 320 administrators and 2 thousand and 223 teachers working in 182 BİLSEM centers. We are encouraging teachers to take a master's degree and we cooperate with universities within this framework. Currently 61 of the teachers working in these centers have master's degree. 231 of our teachers are attending master's degree classes and 219 of them are attending lectures and seminars in order to receive a doctorate degree.
Full support from BİLSEM centers in Turkey's for struggle against Covid-19 pandemic
Vocational training schools displayed an incredible performance during the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. BİLSEM centers also made great contributions during this period. Can you give information about the role of the  BİLSEM centers?
In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, we activated the production force of all BİLSEM centers and focused on the production of most needed products. BİLSEM centers immediately produced 350 thousand face shields and delivered them to the required destinations. On the other hand, we also focus on designing and producing other most needed products such as thermometers, mask holders, video laryngoscope, intubation cabins and aprons, ventilation device valves, disinfectant robots, social distancing measurement devices, mechanic ventilators and contact free examination cabins.
Professional Improvement Training for Teachers
We attach great importance to the professional improvement training of teachers. Like we did in the vocational and technical training, we signed cooperation protocols with related offices and agencies in order to support the professional improvement training for teachers. In 2018, only 30 teachers attended professional improvement training programs and this figure rose to 170 in 2019 and to 615 in 2020.  
These are important developments. Can you tell us about the success stories of BİLSEM centers?
Of course. Students who benefit from BİLSEM centers achieved important success in project development in national and international levels. For example, these students won awards in various different categories of the TEKNOFEST 2020. Students who benefit from BİLSEM also managed to receive awards from TÜBİTAK.
Patent era in BİLSEM centers
You focused on patent, useful model, design and brand production in BİLSEM centers. Can you give us a brief information about this attempt?
This attempt achieved success as it was planned.  The Turkish Patent and Trademark Office gave important support. We organized necessary training programs. We founded Intellectual Rights Office within our Directorate. This office is coordinating the activities of BİLSEM centers in 81 cities of the country and giving necessary support to them. In 2020, BİLSEM centers made 44 patent, 31 useful model and 9 design application and 6 products received patent. Moreover, preparations for getting patent for 307 products still continue.
1.000 book library in 182 BİLSEM centers
Are you planning additional support to BİLSEM centers?
We are founding libraries containing 1.000 books in all 182 BİLSEM centers. We founded 168 new design and skill workshops in the centers in 2020 and we will still continue to establish new design and skill workshops until the end of 2020.

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