Turkey officially abolished prep schools, known as "dershane" in Turkish, with a new regulation that was implemented today.
Prep schools, a byproduct of a problematic education system necessitating students to take extra classes to prepare for university admission exams, are to be converted into private schools under a government regulation. After the top judiciary authority, the Constitutional Court, ordered the cancellation of a September deadline for the closure of the prep schools, the National Education Ministry came up with a new solution that requires prep schools to be converted into special education courses.
The deadline to apply for the status of special education courses expired today and prep schools that did not apply will be closed down. Figures show 2,396 prep schools applied for the conversion while some 500 prep schools ended their operations since the government announced the decision in 2013. After the Constitutional Court's ruling last month, a new process was initiated to acquire the status of special education courses, which will be different from the status of private schools.
Prep schools emerged in the 1960s and turned into a lucrative source of income by attracting students desperate in the face of a curriculum that scarcely prepared them for university admission exams. Their number rose to more than 4,000 in the recent years and thrived despite previous attempts to shut them down in bids to reform the country's educational system. With education reforms, such as the abolition of university admission exams and a better, up-to-date curriculum, failing to be realized by successive governments, they remained a mainstay of the educational system.
The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) had long planned to end the hegemony of prep schools in the education system, and prep schools were first included in future plans for education and development in 2006. The plan was to convert them to private schools and offer free additional courses by the National Education Ministry to prepare students for university admission exams. The free courses will be introduced in the coming months.
The controversial Gülen Movement, accused of attempting to overthrow the government by its infiltrators within the police, the judiciary and other institutions, is among the fiercest critics of the decision to close the prep schools. The movement operates a vast network of prep and private schools. Hundreds of prep schools ruled out applying for the new status, defying the regulations.
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