In Turkey, it is quite difficult to get into a good public school. When their children are of school age, many families' main objective is to prepare them for the High School Entrance Exam (TEOG). Children study very hard to pass this test, and if they get good results it guarantees them a quality education. To help their children, families find private teachers and spend fortunes on them. In this context, studying becomes a child's only life.
It is not hard to imagine that in big cities and among wealthy families, getting children ready for the exam is relatively easier. Surprisingly, the most successful students on this year's exam were from a completely different environment. A young girl named Ezgi correctly answered all of the exam's 120 questions this year. She lives in a small village - so small that there are only 10 families there, a village situated in one of the least-developed provinces of eastern Anatolia. There is not even a primary school in her village, so she had to go to another village 5 kilometers away every day. She was so persistent that she never missed a school day even when the road was completely covered with snow. Her father also deserves acclaim as he always accompanied her during bad weather.
When not in school, Ezgi spent her time working as a shepherd like most people do in her village. That means she practically did not have time for anything else, yet she managed to study anyway. She never had a private teacher or any other kind of assistance, her family being extremely poor. Besides, there is no computer in the village and no Internet connection. She was all by herself, yet she succeeded.
One wonders if children living in good conditions are more inclined to not study hard. Maybe difficult economic and living conditions sometimes stimulate people to work harder to improve their conditions. Maybe when children believe they do not have to do anything special to live in wealthy conditions, they just do not do anything special.
Ezgi told journalists that she never left her province, and she deplored the fact that her province did not have a theater. She decided to leave her province by becoming a high school student, and she wants to study medicine later. She did not want to leave her environment by other possible ways, for example by joining the PKK or fleeing to a big city, but by getting a university degree.
She wants to become a doctor, and she says she will return to her village afterward to help her people.
Ezgi is not the only example of this kind, as many children in similar conditions have been very successful on the TEOG. There was one child, for example, who had to leave Şırnak with his family after the PKK burned down his school. He also had a brilliant result despite difficult conditions. He also told reporters that he wants to become a doctor and then return to his native city. These children's dream is to study in a western province and then to return to their families. They do not dream of moving to a western city or a Western country and forget about their pasts, instead they want to help their own communities once they finish their studies in the West.
We know that during their time as students, they will see many things that could alter their dreams, and maybe they will be disappointed after all. Perhaps many of them will never return even if they claim the contrary now. However, their present dreams are full of lessons for everyone, especially for adults. Not only for those of us in Turkey, but also for those in the West.