Citation: Nayir. F. and Taneri, O. (2017) Assessment and Diversity in Turkish Schools. Cankiri: Cankiri Karatekin University
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Turkey is a centrally governed country connecting the continents Asia and Europe and comprised of 81 provinces and 7 geographical regions. According to research on the OECD countries, the Turkish National Education System is the most centralised education system among the education systems of these countries` (Şişman, 2014). Apart from some educational institutions under some ministries, the entire formal and non-formal education is under the supervision of the Ministry of National Education. The main duty of the Ministry is to plan, implement and evaluate the services regarding the employees and the students of the educational institutions at every level and of every type. The Basic Law of National Education number 1739 on the National Education enacted in 1973 defines the general purposes of the Turkish Education System. According to this law, the general purposes are to raise good citizens, bring up fully developed individuals and ensure that individuals acquire occupations best suited to their skills. Similarly, the fundamental principles directing the educational system policies are defined as universality and equality, the needs of the individual and the society, guidance, the right to education, equal opportunity, continuity, The Revolution and Principles of Atatürk and Atatürk's Nationalism, democracy education, secularism, scientific principles, planning, co-education, cooperation between education campuses and school and family, and education everywhere (MoNE, 1973, article 4-14). As seen, the fundamental principles of education emphasise equality and the right to education and adopt a secular, scientific and planned education.
Turkey made some significant structural changes to its educational system in 2012. With this structural change, compulsory education was increased from 8 to 12 years including four years of primary school followed by four years of middle school and four years of high school (4+4+4) respectively (www.meb.gov.tr). According to the Law 4306 passed in 1997, the uninterrupted compulsory education had been eight years including five years of primary school and three years of middle school. With the 2012 amendment, the primary school and middle school was made four years each (4+4) (MoNE, 2012). According to this, “the compulsory primary education encompasses children in the age group of 6-13. This school age begins in the month of September of the year the child attains age 5 and ends at the end of the academic year the child completes age 13 and attains age 14” (MoNE, 2012, article 7). “The primary education institutions include four-year compulsory primary schools, and four-year compulsory middle schools and religious middle schools offering the opportunity to select among different programs. In middle schools and religious middle schools, elective classes are formed according to the skills, development and preference of the students in such manner as to support high school education. In middle schools and high schools, the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad’s Life is taught as an elective course. Other elective courses taught in these schools and the program options created for the religious middle schools and other middle schools are determined by the Ministry” (MoNE, 2012, article 9). Primary education is compulsory, and free in the public schools, for all citizens including girls and boys (MoNE, 1961, article 2). There are 5,360,703 students in total in 26,522 public primary schools and 5,211,506 students in 17,343 public middle schools in Turkey during the academic year 2015-2016. (MoNE, Formal Education Statistics, 2016).
Secondary education encompasses all general, vocational and technical education institutions that are based on primary education and provide four-year compulsory formal or non-formal education. Students completing middle schools are granted a secondary education diploma. (MoNE, 2012, article 10). Secondary Education Institutions are four-year boarding or day schools after middle schools or religious middle schools. These are science high schools, social sciences high schools, Anatolian teacher high schools, Anatolian high schools, fine arts high schools and sports high schools, Anatolian religious high schools, vocational or technical Anatolian high schools, vocational and technical educational centers, and multi-program Anatolian high schools (The Secondary Education Institutions Regulation, 2016, article 6). The purpose of the secondary education is to "develop the physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, social and cultural qualities of students, teach them to respect democracy and human rights and prepare them for the future by equipping them with knowledge and skills required by our time” and “for the higher education, profession, life and occupational areas by introducing a common culture at the secondary education level” (The Secondary Education Institutions Regulation, 2016, article 7). There are 5,807,643 students in total in 10,550 public secondary education institutions in Turkey during the academic year 2015-2016 (MoNE, Formal Education Statistics, 2016).
Assessment in Turkish Schools
Under the Basic Law of National Education, the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) is responsible for evaluation and assessment of the education system. Student assessments are used in most cases to determine the quality of students. Two student assessment examinations and national exams are used. Examinations are held at the classroom, and school level and national exams are held at the state level. National exams exist in primary education, at 6,7,8 grades. This examination determines admission into secondary schools and is administrated by the MoNE. Also, if students wish to enter a university, there is another national exam, University entrance examination administrated by the Assessment, Selection and Placement Centre (OSYM).
Issues Relevant To Culturally Responsive Assessment
Today, Turkey hosts about 3 million Syrian refugees. As of November 2016, about 260 of these refugees live in 26 settlement (asylum) centers established by the Turkish Republic's Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) 54% of the Syrian refugees living in Turkey (1.490.033) are children (UNICEF, 2016). For refugees living in an asylum center, training and course activities are provided as well as settlement. The training are going on at the temporary training centers which are opened in public schools and in the asylum centers.
According to November 2016 data, a total of 311,259 students are trained, 62,357 of which are Syrian refugees living in Turkey in public schools and 166,399 are temporary education centres in public schools. In these schools, there are 12,759 teachers, of which 1024 are citizens of the Republic of Turkey, and 11,735 are Syrians. According to Turkish law, all children in Turkey are entitled to free access to primary and secondary education, including foreigners.
Turkey also has a responsibility to educate Syrian children in their country according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in which Turkey is a party in 1995, and accordingly to its Constitution. According to AFAD's field work in 2013, 83% of the children of the Syrians children who are living in the camps and 14% of those who are out of the camps can continue to study in schools. This suggests that Syrian children living outside the camp are experiencing problems in reaching the education. The Turkish government is trying to develop educational policies at the level of the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) and the Higher Education Council (YÖK) to solve the problems.
AFAD (2013). Syrian Refugees in Turkey, Field survey results. (Retrieved from https://www.afad.gov.tr/upload/Node/2376/files/60-2013123015491-syrian-refugees-in-turkey-2013_baski_30_12_2013_tr.pdf, 22.11.2016 ).
AFAD (2016). Suriye Afet Raporu (Syria Disaster Report) (Retrieved from, https://www.afad.gov.tr/tr/2372/Afet-Raporu-Suriye, in 22.11.2016).
MoNE Formal Education Statistics (2016). (Retrieved from http://sgb.meb.gov.tr/meb_iys_dosyalar/2016_03/30044345_meb_istatistikleri_orgun_egitim_2015_2016.pdf on 12.11.2016)
MoNE (2016) The Secondary Education Institutions Regulation, Official Gazette: 29871
MoNE (2012). Law on amendments to some laws of the Primary Education and Education Law, No: 6287.
MoNE, (2014). Preschool Education and Primary Education Institutions Regulation, Official Gazette: 29072.
MoNE (1961). Primary Education and Education Law, Law Number: 222, Offical Gazette: 10705
MoNE (1973). National Education Basic Law, Law Number: 1739, Official Gazette: 14574.
Sisman, M. (2014). Türk Eğitim Sistemi ve Okul Yönetimi (Turkish Educational System and School Management), Ankara: PegemA Yayıncılık
Turkey Grand National Assembly Report (2012), Retrieved from https://www.tbmm.gov.tr/komisyon/insanhaklari/docs/2012/raporlar/28_02_2012_1.pdf, 16.11.2016).
UNICEF (2016). Türkiye’deki Suriyeli çocuklar (Syrian children in Turkey) ( Retrieved from http://unicef.org.tr/files/bilgimerkezi/doc/T%C3%BCrkiyedeki%20Suriyeli%20%C3%87ocuklar_Bilgi%2 0Notu%20Subat%202016_3.pdf, at 22.11.2016).