The ongoing debate surrounding the closure or transitioning of 'dershanes', private prep schools for high school and university placement exams, has drawn attention to the economic aspect of the existence of these high-cost tutorial institutions. A recently released report by the Turkish Education Foundation reveals how these institutions have transformed into businesses that rake in high amounts of cash, to the likes of as if they were printing the currency themselves. According to the report, parents pay out at least 16.7 thousand TL annually for their children to attend such institutions. The tuition for parents has reached 8 thousand TL for high school placement exams and 8.6 thousand TL for university placement exam tutoring. Parents typically begin sending their children to these prep schools once they enter the sixth grade.
12,000 TL ON AVERAGE
The tuition to send a child to one of these prep schools from sixth grade on until they enter college spans from a minimum of 12 thousand TL all the way up to 100 thousand TL. The additional costs alone for sending a sixth grade student to one of these prep schools spans between one thousand to seven thousand liras. Families pay out between one thousand and ten thousand liras for seventh grade students, while costs for eighth grade students starts out at 1,500 TL and can be anywhere up to 15,000 TL. For high school students between ninth and twelfth grade, 'dershane' costs start at two thousand TL and reach up to 23 thousand TL.
A number of those parents that have difficulty meeting these high fees, flock to banks for additional financial assistance. Each year the number of parents forced to take out loans to supplement their child's education multiplies. Bankers say that 80 percent of the education loans they give out are used to pay for 'dershane' prep schools. This year, the budget allocated to the Ministry of National Education is 55.704 billion TL. When this budget figure is compared to what is paid out to these prep schools, it seems the subsector has now passed the main sector when it comes to Turkey's educational system.
NEARLY 20 TIMES MORE THE NUMBER OF UNIVERSITIES
There are 3,640 'dershanes' in Turkey serving 1.219 million students. There are only 179 universities in Turkey. These means that the number of prep schools that operate in sending students to universities are nearly 20 times in number compared to the number of universities in the nation.
DERSHANES PREVALENT IN THE THREE BIGGEST CITIES AND NOT IN GREATER ANATOLIA
The public is receiving misinformation in the debate regarding the closure or transition of these private prep schools. Statements such as, "Shutting down 'dershanes' equates to telling the Anatolian public to not pursue knowledge," are refuted when taking a closer look at actual figures. Data shows that one out of every three 'dershanes' in the country are located in one of the three largest cities in Turkey. While there are 3,640 'dershanes' throughout the country, 692 are located in Istanbul alone. In the capital Ankara, there are 360 of these prep schools. Izmir comes in third with 204 'dershanes'. Meanwhile, in a number of provinces throughout Turkey, the number of prep schools is under the double digits. The provinces that have the least number of these types of prep schools are Bayburt, with two and Ardahan, Gümüşhane, Kilis and Tunceli with three each. Bartın and Çankırı have five 'dershanes' each, while Bingöl has six, followed by Iğdır with seven. The Düzce, Erzincan, Karaman, Kars, Niğde and Sinop provinces have nine such schools each.
MORE IN THE WEST, LESS IN THE EAST
The Marmara region, which also encompasses Istanbul, especially stands out for its prominent distribution of 'dershanes', with 1,154 operating in the region alone. With 669 'dershanes', the Central Anatolian region, which includes the capital, follows in second place for region-based highest distribution. The Aegean region has 527 of these types of prep schools, the Mediterranean region has 519 and the Black Sea region boasts 342 'dershanes'. Unsurprisingly the Southeastern and Eastern Anatolia regions stand out for having the lowest number of these supplementary education institutions, with 251 and 206, respectively.