Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz announced that compulsory education will be increased to 13 years from the existing 12 years in order to make preschool education mandatory.
The landmark move is part of Turkey's efforts to reform its education system that underwent countless other changes in the past, making it a complicated mess with little success.
Speaking at an event late Saturday, Yılmaz said they aim to decrease the number of students per classroom and focus on increasing the number of teachers.
Since 2012, the formula for compulsory education followed the 4+4 +4 year model in which boys and girls are obliged to attend four years of primary school, four years of middle school and four years of high school. Preschool education has been optional.
İsmet Yılmaz said they also planned to remove double shifts in schools and would introduce a single shifts for all students, eliminating the split of morning and afternoon classes, by 2019.
"For a quality education, we need to add preschool education to the system. Before our government introduced longer compulsory education, students were required to spend only an average of five years in compulsory education," Yılmaz said. He also cited a set of new reforms planned in the coming semester, including a performance system for teachers to evaluate their efficiency and building more classrooms to decrease crowded classes. He said they will also concentrate on "teaching values" to students after reviewing and revising the current curricula.
Turkey's education system has undergone a number of major changes since the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) took power in 2003. Most significantly, university entrance exams have undergone a series of changes. The government plans to remove the exam entirely and implement a performance assessment system. Under the new system, university applicants will be evaluated based on their skills and achievements in extracurricular activities. At the same time, prep schools have also been also shut down. The country's education system faced criticism in the past, particularly over the low number of schools available to accommodate an ever-growing number of students. With an increase in the number of schools in recent years, images of crammed classrooms have disappeared, although underdeveloped regions in remote parts of Turkey still suffer from an insufficient number of teachers.
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