Academics came together in Istanbul for the Turkey 2023 Education Summit organized by the Sabah newspaper yesterday to discuss the future of education in Turkey in the light of the government's 2023 vision. The year 2023 refers to the centennial of the Republic of Turkey and the Ministry of Education had unveiled its Education Vision in November about the major changes in the system by that year. They involve everything from a flexible curriculum and fewer school hours to more diverse courses and an emphasis on design and skills workshops.
Education Minister Ziya Selçuk was among the speakers of the summit held at the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA).
Participants discussed all aspects of education in the one-day summit where sessions such as Design and Skills Workshops, Vocational Training, Early Childhood Education and Measurement and Assessment in 2023 Education Vision were held.
Addressing the summit, Minister Selçuk said he never believed that a concrete course for education was possible without forming a "values system," "a philosophy," and they were all interconnected. "We need a framework to base our education model on, otherwise, we will be confined to only a series of activities and projects. We have to have simulations over impacts of decisions by decision-making mechanism on education or face consequences in the future," he said. The minister added that the world was going through an era of exponential changes and Turkey would not be left with any options in the next two decades if it "misses the train" in terms of adapting to changes. A change in the education of teachers is among the key aspects of a new education system, the minister implied. "Teachers should give up their self-perceived role of being a teacher only. They have to train themselves first and should not forget that being a teacher also means a journey of self-learning," he said.
He said exam systems in Turkey also blocked education and contributed to learning differences between schools, forcing parents to enroll their children in schools with higher and better options. "We can only relieve the pressure of exams on students if we reduce differences between schools," he said. "We can't progress by simply changing the names and methods in exams; we need to reduce the differences between schools at the same time," he added.
The education system has undergone countless changes in the brief history of modern Turkey and every new step has brought new challenges. In the past 15 years, the government managed to impose an overhaul of the system with relative success, especially in terms of university admission exams and better schools with the more classrooms and greater use of technology in education.