School administrators all over the country say the first day of school for these five and a half year-olds was problem-free.
The first day of classes for the 2.4 million additional students automatically registered by the Ministry of National Education aged 60 months and above, began yesterday. According to Education Ministry officials, they are expecting the actual number of students that remain enrolled to be at around 1.6 million. Parents that do not want to send their children to school a year early and those who have medical reports are not obliged to conform to the new regulations. As a result, with the 60-66 month-old children whose parents do not want to send them to school coupled by the 66-72 month-old children who have medical reports, 800,000 children are expected to be enrolled in preschool rather than elementary school this year.
During an address for the start of the school year at the Kazım Orbay Elementary School, Minister Dinçer expressed that this new education system will be a turning point for education in the future. Dinçer told the children, "Your classrooms and your school yards will be much bigger and will have a much larger variety of games than in your homes or playgrounds. Maybe the change that may please you the most will be the increased number of playmates. With programs geared for your age, you will get to play and learn while you are having fun," stated Dinçer.
'THE STARTING AGE FITS THE TIMES'
Dinçer expressed his belief that all of the hitches in the system will be surpassed through school-student-parent collaboration.
"With this new arrangement, we aimed to on the one hand elevate the education level of society through extending the education process and establishing a school environment in which individuals can develop themselves while also raising the bar on the quality of education. Therefore, the basic difference between where we are today compared to the past is the fact that our education system has now taken on a flexible and democratic structure which is appropriate for our children's interest, talents and expectations."
Dinçer also mentioned the debate surrounding the designated age for starting school by stating that through taking into consideration the age when students enter elementary schools in different countries, they changed the education material and curriculum to make it compatible for the population in this era.
'No worries, the first letter won't be taught for another four months'
Tezcan Uzlu (Vice-Principal for Bağcılar Akyiğit Elementary School): "We didn't have any problems. There were 15-20 students in our 35-40 person classes. The first year starts off with a four-month preschool program. During this timeframe students will be taught classes on adapting."
Hüseyin Yaşar (Vice-Principal for Bahçelievler 75. Yıl Cumhuriyet Elementary School): "We informed our parents during the registration process. We divided our students according to their date of birth. Therefore, we were able to eradicate the age difference. Our classes have at least 32 students and at most 38. We have no problems in terms of students needing to use the restroom. The parents concerns are baseless. Children will only begin learning letters in four months' time."
Ali Tekin Terzi (Vice-Principal Bakırköy Şenlikköy Elementary School): "We didn't have any problems with our students. It also went well because this week only first graders started school. We are also holding seminars for our parents every day in order to inform them."