President Gül approves law to shut down prep schools
by Daily Sabah
Mar 12, 2014 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Mar 12, 2014 12:00 am
ANKARA – President Abdullah Gül signs law abolishing controversial 'dershanes' prep schools.
According to the prep school draft bill that was passed by the Turkish Parliament and approved by President Gül, prep schools in Turkey will be closed down by Sept. 2015 and those found suitable will be transformed into primary schools, secondary schools, dormitories and public education centers.
Turkey's long-debated draft bill on the closure of prep schools, many of which are run by followers of controversial imam Fethullah Gülen, was approved by the Turkish Parliament over the weekend.
As the bout between controversial Gülen Movement leader Fethullah Gülen and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan escalates, the government chalked up a victory for its side in the bitter feud.
In line with the bill passed by Parliament, prep schools in Turkey must be closed down by September 2015 and those found suitable will be transformed into primary schools, high schools, dormitories and public education centers, a process set to finish near the end of 2018 or start of 2019.
The law will also make a number of positions in the state education system and Education Ministry redundant. The changes will affect the head of the Education and Morality Council, the strategy development president, in addition to officials at the Education Ministry such as deputy secretary, heads of departments, provincial directors, deputy directors of national education and district directors of national education. Those who served as school principals and deputy principals for four years will be removed at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
Turkey's prep schools, tasked with preparing students for the nationwide university entrance examination, emerged in the 1970s as a result of a problematic education system and then turned into a lucrative source of income for organizations running educational institutions across the country, particularly the Gülen Movement.
The breaking point between the movement and the government came on Nov. 2013 after the Turkish government moved to shut down prep schools. The government's move caused an uproar within the Gülen Movement, which has gained both funding and a steady stream of recruits through its prep schools.
Over the last 20 years, the Gülen Movement has built up a vast global network of non-governmental organizations, including educational establishments, private schools and prep schools, in addition to media outlets and businesses. However, the movement's activities remain notoriously opaque due to its infiltration into key political and regulatory institutions within the Turkish state.
Regarding the income of the prep schools, Erdoğan said the sector brings in approximately $1 billion each year, adding that Gülen's followers control an estimated 40 percent of the nearly 4,000 prep schools in the country.
Daily Sabah sources who asked to remain anonymous alleged that Gülen Movement followers asked students and their families in its prep schools to vote for opposition candidates, including Republican People Party's (CHP) members in Istanbul's local elections.
Speaking to the families and asking them to leave their phones outside of the rooms, authorities in the Gülen Movement said, "The government faced opposition from the Gülen Movement before the election. You should vote for another candidate, such as Mustafa Sarıgül, to take up a position against the government."
They allegedly asked the families to disregard the notable successes of the AK Party, including the removal of the headscarf ban and steady political and economic stability.
It was also asserted that the authorities speaking to the families defined the turmoil between the AK Party and Gülen Movement as a sectorial conflict and left many families' questions unanswered, particularly regarding Gülen's move to gain the support of the U.S. government.