by Compiled from Wire Services
Feb 09, 2016 12:00 am
Schools across Turkey reopened on Monday after a two-week midterm break. For students in the southeastern Turkey, suffering from terrorism, the new school term has been overshadowed by the ongoing PKK terror, which has left schools damaged and with increased absent rates, due to curfews as part of counterterror operations.
Midterm break ended on Monday for more than 17 million students in Turkey, but the new school term comes with security concerns for students in southeast Turkey. The region is beset with an ongoing campaign of terrorism by the militant PKK terrorist group, which targets security forces and civilians. Education has been heavily disrupted by the violence that has been continuing for months in cities with a large Kurdish population. Some eighty schools in Şırnak, Diyarbakır and Mardin, three flashpoint cities in the region, were significantly damaged in the attacks, according to Turkish media reports, forcing authorities to cancel classes in the face of apparent security risks. PKK militants are accused of rigging schoolyards with explosive booby traps. Inner-city schools especially face imminent risk from attacks, as terrorists are engaged in street battles with security forces and are accused of using schools and other buildings as hideouts.
Some 80 schools were damaged in the region according to unconfirmed reports, with tens of thousands of students unable to attend classes for months. The Education Ministry has offered extra classes for students during the midterm break to help students catch up with their curriculum, but frequent terror attacks again prevented attendance.
Still students say they are hopeful for the new semester. In Silopi, a district of Şırnak province, security forces say they have wiped out the PKK presence off the streets and eliminated barricades set up by terrorists, ensuring access to schools. As the new term began, students cheered in an overdue reunion with classmates and teachers. More than 39,000 students couldn't go to school since December in Silopi due to frequent curfews, as security forces moved to clamp down on terrorists. Speaking to the Doğan News Agency, Deniz Kesik, a grade school student, says she misses her school very much. İdris Dokumacı, another student, says Monday was his "happiest day" as he met his friends after a long break. Eight schools in Silopi remain closed due to damage inflicted by terror attacks. The government has pledged to repair schools, but education might remain disrupted even if schools are safe again, while the PKK threat prevails.
Education Minister Nabi Avcı says education would resume to its normal pace soon, but acknowledges "difficulties" in certain towns. Speaking in the southeastern city of Mardin last week, Avcı said the resuming of activities in schools torched or heavily damaged by terrorists may take a long time. The government has instead transferred students to safer schools in the region, offering accommodation for thousands of students forced to move to other cities to attend school.