MINISTER ÖZER ADDRESSED GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT PARLIAMENT ABOUT 2023 BUDGETMinister of National Education Mahmut Özer addressed the General Assembly at Parliament about the 2023 budget of his Ministry.
Minister Özer began his speech by commemorating teache Ayşenur Alkan who was martyred during a terror attack in Karkamış district of Gaziantep. He noted that the most important instrument in increasing the quality of human resources is education and the most important and sustainable capital of any country is its human resources.
Reminding that raising healthy generations who adapted national and universal culture, who have high cognitive and non-cognitive skills is vital for achieving sustainable development, Özer said that, "Within this framework, we aim at increasing accessibility to quality education in all levels of education starting from preschool education. We shape our education policies in line with this goal."
Özer noted that Türkiye has been going through a historical transformation in education since 2000s under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan adding that; "In addition to completing the massification of education by increasing schooling rates in all levels of education, we also increased the number of student per classroom and teacher figures to the level of OECD average. We achieved quality based growth in education in the last twenty years. One of our main goals was to increase equal opportunities in education. Since the 2000s, we have been adamantly implementing many social policies in order to reinforce equal opportunity in education. Distributing free textbooks and supplementary sources and increasing the context of conditional education aid, dormitory and scholarship capacity are among the social policies we had implemented. Total cost of the implementation of these policies during the last twenty years is around 525 billion liras. Students who have different disadvantages and female students benefited most from these policies."
"If AK Party governments implemented neoliberal education policies, then there would be no such social policies in our program," said Özer, "We all know that neoliberal policies consider social aid programs carried out in order to maintain equal opportunities in education as a public loss. But, most disadvantaged families and female students benefited from our social policies in the last twenty years. As a result, schooling rates in all levels of education exceeded 95 percent for the first time in the history of our Republic."
Schooling rate of female students increased from 39.2 percent to 95 percent
Minister Özer noted that the schooling rate of five year old children was 11 percent and schooling rate in secondary education was 44 percent in 2000s and asked; "Where were the remaining 89 children while only 11 of them were schooled during these years. Schooling rate of female students in secondary education was 39.2 percent and now this figure has reached 95 percent. Conservative circles were blamed for not sending their daughters to school due to the headscarf ban but we solve the education problem of female students by making important investments in education and implementing social policies in the last twenty years."
Minister Özer went on to say that: "There are a total of 1 million and 200 teachers and 19 million and 100 thousand students in a total of 71,818 state and private schools in our education system in the 2022-2023 school year. Total number of students and teachers in our education system is higher than the population of many countries. It requires serious work in addition to the largest share of the government budget to achieve a transformation in this giant system. Key concepts of transformation in our education system are; inclusion, equitability and quality."
Türkiye gradually improved its grades in the student success surveys in the last twenty years
Özer stressed that improvements in the education system of Türkiye were recognized by international institutions adding that; "All surveys conducted by OECD about success surveys of 15 year old students showed that Türkiye gradually increased its grades in the last twenty years. Türkiye ranked first in the list of countries who increased its grades most in mathematics and science literacy although the number of 15 year old students increased most when compared to other countries in the list. Türkiye also continued to increase its TIMMS 4th and 8th grade students' success survey grades concerning."
Schooling rate of five year old children increased from 65 percent to 99 percent during the last year
Özer mentioned projects carried out by his Ministry in order to reinforce equal opportunity in education.
"Equal opportunity in education is the main focus of all education systems today. It is necessary to provide support mechanisms to all stakeholders of education. Preschool education is the most cost effective long term solution. Our Ministry initiated a project in order to inaugurate 3 thousand new kindergartens in order to increase preschool education schooling rates to the level of OECD average. There were only 2,782 kindergartens in our country when we started this project. We achieved our goal and we opened 5 thousand 541 kindergartens before the end of this year. As a result, the schooling rate of three year old children increased from 9 percent to 16 percent; the schooling rate of four year old children increased from 16 percent to 37 percent and the schooling rate of five year old children increased from 65 percent to 99 percent. We are aiming at increasing the schooling rate of three year old children from 16 percent to 50 percent, increasing the schooling rate of four year old children from 37 percent to 70 percent in 2023," stated Özer.
He noted that the schooling rate in secondary education, which was 90 percent a year ago, reached 95 percent as a result of an early warning and tracking system of the Ministry.
Özer went on to say that: "Dissemination of especially vocational education centers made an important contribution to our efforts aiming at decreasing absence and dropout rates of secondary school students. We started a new project in order to increase schooling rates in secondary education to 100 percent in 2023. Early warning and tracking systems provide us the opportunity to detect students who have the risk of dropping out. We will increase the number of schools that we support within the framework of the 10,000 Schools in Secondary Education project in 2023."
Free meal to 4 million students
Minister Özer reminded that the Ministry has been distributing free text books for the last twenty years in order to increase equal opportunity in education adding that; "Since then, our Ministry distributed approximately 3.5 billion free textbooks. We distributed 160 million supplementary sources in addition to 153 million free textbooks at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. We continued to increase the free food capacity in 2022. At the beginning of this year, 1.5 million students, mainly those who are staying at dormitories and benefit from mobile education services, increased this figure to 1.8 million students and our goal is to increase it to 4 million by the end of 2023."
Number of books at school libraries increased from 28 million to 105 million
Özer noted that his Ministry initiated summer school programs for the first time in its history in order to reinforce equal opportunity in education.
He said, "Summer schools are opened in different countries in order to overcome learning loss that occurred due to Covid-19 pandemic. Within this framework, we organized two different summer schools, one of them being science and the other is about arts, in the Science and Arts Centers (BİLSEMs). Moreover, we organize mathematics summer school in addition to English summer courses. 1 million students attended these summer courses and summer schools for free. We initiated the "No More Schools Without Libraries" project on October 26, 2021 in order to decrease opportunity differences between schools and founded 16,361 school libraries until the end of 2021. As a result of the project, the number of books at school libraries increased from 28 million to 105 million."
152 thousand people attended training programs organized at the village public centers
Minister Özer reminded that the Ministry reopened vacant village schools and used them as village public centers in addition to primary and secondary schools. The Ministry repaired 2,200 village schools and organized training programs about husbandry and agriculture as a part of lifelong learning programs. Özer said that 152 thousand people living in villages attended these training programs and the Ministry aims at reaching 1 million people as a part of village public center campaign in 2023.
Concerning new school year preparations, Minister Özer said that the Ministry allocated 7 billion liras for stationary, minor repair and software needs of schools.
Students who ranked at the top 1 percent success rate enrolled in vocational high schools
Özer stressed that another priority of the Ministry of National Education is the reinforcement of vocational education and went on to say that: Co-efficient practices prevented graduates from both vocational high schools and İmam-hatip schools from enrolling in higher education programs in the past during the February 28 process. We lifted this practice in 2012. All former ministers and bureaucrats of the Ministry of National Education have worked in order to reinforce vocational education since then. We implemented two different approaches in the last couple of years. We provide vocational education from two channels; one is the vocational high schools and the other is vocational education centers which are similar to dual vocational education in Germany. Our new approach is based on cooperation with the private sector and updating school programs together. We also planned on the job and professional development training programs for teachers in cooperation with the sector actors. As a result, students who ranked at the top 1 percent success rate enrolled in vocational high schools."
Özer also made statements about the production capacity of vocational high schools. He said that the production capacity of these schools increased from 200 million liras to 1 billion and 162 million liras in 2021. Vocational high schools produced masks, disinfectants, mask machines, ventilators, disposable overalls and other most needed products during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Özer said that the Ministry has founded R&D centers at the vocational high schools in order to raise awareness about intellectual and industrial property rights. These schools registered their patents, useful models, brands and designs as a result of this decision of the Ministry. They have registered 8,300 of their products and commercialized 162 of them. Recently, the Ministry founded 7 international vocational high schools in order to share its experience with allied countries and enrolled students from abroad.
Number of apprentices and foremen enrolled in vocational education centers reached 1 million 152 thousand
Noting that the most important transformation in vocational education took place in the vocational education centers, Özer stated that, "We had amended the Vocational Education Law No. 3308 on December 25, 2021 with your votes in order to respond to the quality human resources need of especially small and medium size enterprises. Mr. President set a goal to include 1 million apprentices and foremen to the education system by the end of 2022 and there are 1 million and 152 apprentices and foremen in vocational education centers right now."
Phoenix born from the ashes of vocational education which was torn due to co-efficient practice
Minister Özer recalled that he had attended the OECD Education Ministers' Summit three days ago and the French Education Minister stated that the biggest education project of French Prime Minister Macron was to increase the number of apprentices from 300 thousand to 800 thousand within five years.
"They allocated 13 billion euro for this project. We have increased the number of apprentices and forement from 159 thousand to 1 million and 152 within a year. We have established a system in vocational education which resembles a Phoenix born from the ashes of vocational education which was torn due to co-efficient practice. We will continue to reinforce our vocational education system in 2023 as it is the most important instrument in decreasing young unemployment," said Özer.
Goal was 300 hours of training program for each teacher
Özer noted that another priority of his Ministry is professional development programs for teachers and reminded that they have taken two important steps in order to reinforce the development of teachers; first of them is the school based professional development programs. For the first time in its history, the Ministry allocated 210 million liras for the school based training programs for teachers directly to schools. Second step was the Teacher Information Network (ÖBA) and professional development groups for teachers.
"For the first time, we have started the Mobility Program that provides teachers the opportunity to see the best practices. At the beginning of 2020, the training program per teacher was 44 hours, it reached 94 hours in 2021; our goal for 2022 was 120 hours and right now this figure has already reached 205 hours and will exceed 250 hours until the end of this year. Our goal for 2023 is 300 hours," said Özer.
Özer reminded that although political leaders called on teachers to boycott expert and head teacher exams, 99.74 percent of teachers have entered the exams. He also stated that the Ministry will continue to reinforce the education system by focusing on equal opportunity and quality in education.
Minister Özer answered criticisms
After some deputies claimed that a teacher in Bursa was not investigated although he humiliated Alawites, Minister Özer said that the Ministry of National Education has opened an investigation about the incident and punished the teacher with prevention of promotion penalty. He also added that they have opened another investigation against a teacher in Konya after his student claimed that he sexually abused her.
Concerning speculations about the number of students in the country, Özer stated, "Claims that 680 thousand female students are not enrolled in education are not true. Number of children at primary school age is 5 million 219 thousand and 459. Number of students enrolled in primary schools is 5 million 200 thousand and 144 and the schooling rate in primary education is 99.63 percent. Only 11 thousand and 654 students are not enrolled in education. There are 5 million 60 thousand 300 children in secondary education. 5 million 31 thousand and 879 of them are enrolled in schools and schooling rate in secondary education is 99.44 percent. Only 28 thousand and 421 of these children are not enrolled at schools. There are 5 million 84 thousand and 264 children who are at high school age and 4 million 843 thousand and 596 of them are enrolled in high schools; 240 thousand and 668 of them are not in education and schooling rate in high school education is 95.06 percent. In this light, the number of children who are not enrolled at schools are 280,743 not 1.2 million. Claims that 688 thousand female students are not enrolled have no relevance with the data. We are actively using the MERNİS registration system in order to reach all families and include their children in the education system."
Özer also made statements about the speculations about open education and said, "Total number of students enrolled in open secondary schools is 142 thousand and 326; only 7,774 of them are under 18 years old and the remaining 134,552 of them are older than 18. There are 1 million 112 thousand and 765 students in open high schools; 232,152 of them are under 18 and 880,613 of them are older than 18. Only 111,739 of 232,152 students who are younger than 18 years old are female students."
Özer answered criticisms that vocational education is equivalent to child workers.
"The entire world has been using vocational education as an instrument to prevent child labor. It was among the main topics discussed during last week's OECD Ministerial Meeting about vocational education. Dissemination of vocational education prevents illicit child labor. Türkiye made important improvements when compared to other OECD countries. 81 percent of the existing 1 million and 152 thousand apprentices and foremen in our country are older than 18," said Özer.
Özer reminded that 1 million students are benefiting from free meal services of the ministry as a part of the transportation education service and the Ministry of National Education also provides free meals at dormitories and as a part of Social Aid and Solidarity Fund activities. He said, "Number of students who benefit from free meals has increased from 1.5 million to 1.8 million and our goal is to increase this number to 4 million students."