Education Turkey style

The Turkish education system is screwing with me.  Literally!

The village school just decided in all its wisdom to amalgamate the morning and afternoon classes.  This means that all of Year 6 has been allocated an afternoon session which means my entire life has been uprooted.


The past twelve months have been early morning starts.  I am used to the early morning starts and after 3 months of holidays I had to re-adjust to these early morning starts again.  Up at 6.00, breakfast, dressed and Daughter out the door in time for school to start at 6.50 in the morning.  I will just say that again yes 6.50 ante meridiem.  For me an early morning start meant washing done early, house tidied early, out to do the shopping or run errands – I even had time to blog – while Daughter was at school and, be home by 1 pm when she walks through the door.  I was totally motivated to get things done.  It also gave Daughter lots of time to hang out with friends after school, get her homework done and spent 2 hours a day with her tutor.

Now our carefully made routine has been thrown thoughtlessly out the window by an unthinking school board. I understand why this situation has come about.  In Turkey the Ataturk Reforms put in place that primary school education must be available for all in Turkey and that it is compulsory between the ages of 5-16.  Compulsory it may well be however if there are not enough schools these ridiculous plans are put into effect and, like Daughter, children found themselves either up at 5.45 or (as is the case now) does not get home until after 7 at night when it is pitch black outside thanks to the lack of street lights.

The village school is adequate.  I cannot say much more than that.  We opted to put Daughter in the village school to give her the opportunity to learn the language without the pressure that an özel okul (private school) puts on kids and to make friends with other children in the village.  The teachers worked very closely with Daughter to help her transition into a new learning environment and I cannot fault the assistance that the teachers have given us.  She is currently taught Turkish, maths, science, social studies and foreign language (English) although she spends half of the English lesson teaching English to the teacher!  She also does religious studies (definitely a bone of contention with her and a situation that brought us up to the school more than once).  Oh and did you know that Turkish primary students are not taught about any other country until high school?  I imagine that this is to teach them about national pride (Turkish are very proud countrymen) but to watch Daughter draw a map of the world as home work recently and she had to label “Türkiye” – Turkey, “Avrupa – Europe”, “Aysa” – Asia and “Amerika” – America.  Frankly the lack of detail made me feel a little ill.  I questioned where Australia was but apparently Avustralya didn’t even make it into the equation!   Umm Hello??  I made Daughter go back and draw Australia in and put a big ass arrow on it!  *sigh*

It is clear to me that once The Turk returns from his “holiday” (read that as luckily visiting Australia when he had his heart attack) we will be visiting the private schools to decide which school is best for Daughter and, as a bonus, the private schools have normal school hours albeit longer school hours although I haven’t made that public knowledge just yet.  Yes private school education is definitely on the cards now and, perhaps with the normal school hours (and longer hours) I can take back control of my now out of control life.

Right now the only good thing to come out of this ridiculous change in our routine is Daughter getting a decent breakfast and lunch prior to going to school.  It also means I don’t have to yell at her to get her ready for school.  Today she turned to me at 10 and said, “Well I guess I better start getting ready.”  Um – OK!

19 thoughts on “Education Turkey style

  1. If you can afford it. Private school is the way to go.

    My children’s experiences in US public school included:

    Daughter: (1) Watching a boy from her middle school stab the boy sitting next to her. (2) having a fight with a boy who tried to push her head into a circular saw. He ended up the worse for his efforts (she was a softball pitcher and soccer fullback).

    Son: He was wearing a shirt that happened to be the colors of some rival gang he had no knowledge of. He ended up in the emergency room getting his mouth stitched up.

    All 3 of those incidents happened in California. I didn’t mention some of the incompetence in the 4 states we lived in between their K – 12 years because those incidents weren’t life threatening. They were educationally threatening–like the school putting my genius son into special education class for a few months before I moved to another state because he was bored and wasn’t paying attention to the teacher. After his 6th grade teacher tried to have him repeat the same grade (in the state we moved to), I had him tested and it was found he belonged in the gifted classes. After that, he had friends, loved school and did well.

    Because of the experiences my children had in public school systems in almost every state we lived in, I used what was in her college fund to put my daughter into a private school for a year during high school. Had I been able to afford it, both my kids would have had their K – 12 education in a private school.


      • Private school, if you can afford it, provides a much better education. If it didn’t, people would use the public schools more. I don’t know how it works in Turkey, I’m just imaging that it’s the same way. 🙂


    • i am from california too and went to one of the top public schools in CA AND entire US. i think you have to recognize that public schools in california and all of the US VARY a great deal from district to district and even within neighborhoods. in california school resources are based on local property tax which means some schools have much greater resources and are FAR better than equivalent private (same location) schools. so the quality of your local public school really tells a lot about what kind of neighborhood you lived in.


      • Due to my may relocations, my daughter attended a different school almost every year. The areas of California where she attended school were considered some of the best. Public schools might vary by funding in California, but I found the private school education my daughter received there for 1 year to be exceptional–better than any of the 4 public schools she attended during the time we lived there. And no one tried to push her head into a circular saw or stab some kid in the knee.

        This is perspective based on my experiences. Someone else might have a different experience.


  2. We tried both public and private in Turkey and gave up and went to the Uk where we again tried both. Being non academic my girl was only really happy when she found a private school that left her cook, sculpt and ride horses and wasn’t worried about league tables.


  3. Jane, your comment re your daughter being smart as a whip, but not interested in learning (or at least school) reminds me very much of someone I was at school with 😉


  4. Thanks for posting about what your daughter does and doesn’t learn. Patriotism is very high here in Oman as well — I wonder what geography lessons they get before I reach them in college. I teach business majors, and today we are talking about international business and mentioning Japan, India, Germany, and the US. Thanks to your post, I am going to bust out a map before we begin to make sure they know where those places are!!


  5. I don’t have a child myself Jane, but I would like to one day and it is the education system which makes me very anxious about living in Turkey. I did study for sometime in university in Turkey and found the standard good but again universities like schools are plagued by the public-private divide. I don’t want to raise my child as a nationalist and although I myself am Muslim I don’t want my child to religiously educated by the government in their imam hatip schools. I really hope the education system improves because it would definitely be an ice breaker for me when considering my long term life in Turkey!


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