Turkish children now have to sink or swim if they want to graduate from primary school. The National Education Ministry and the Youth and Sports Ministry signed a protocol to make it mandatory for students to learn swimming. The condition has not been implemented yet but in the near future students will be required to learn how to swim as a precondition for graduation. A country surrounded by three seas, Turkey still sees a large number of drownings every year due to poor swimming skills. The government also aims to endear youngsters to sports as a sedentary lifestyle takes hold among children amid alarming obesity rates. Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu says they already taught swimming to more than 1 million students under a nationwide campaign. “In just 100 days, 125,000 students learned swimming. We started with third and fourth graders and later included first and second graders to the campaign. Our ministry arranges trips to swimming pools and training for students and we have set a goal to teaching swimming to 1 million people. Under our protocol, students have to learn swimming to receive a primary school diploma,” Kasapoğlu said. He added it only takes 12 hours for a student to learn swimming. The government also plans to build more swimming pools for adults and Kasapoğlu said pools will be set up in neighborhoods, eliminating the problem of traveling long distances for access to public pools. “Instead of large pools, we will have smaller pools but more in quantity. They will be open around the clock. So, you won’t have any excuse not to go swimming,” he said. The pools will be staffed by swimming instructors.