Minister of National Education Mahmut Özer made comments and answered questions about the education agenda of Türkiye on the Neutral Zone program hosted by Ahmet Hakan Coşkun and aired on the CNN Türk TV channel.

Here are the excerpts of Minister Özer's statements:
Today, 19 million students went to school after a long break.
We have 1,2 million teachers in our education system and this figure is higher than the population of approximately 150 countries. It is a giant system.
This year, we started preparations for the new school year early. Shortly after the end of 2021-2022 school year on June 17, we organized meetings with all school principals.
Every year, we are distributing free textbooks to all students in all levels of education. This year, we also distributed free supplementary sources.
As President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced earlier, we distributed approximately 153 million free text books and 136 million free supplementary sources to students.
As a part of new school year preparations, 60 thousand cleaning personnel started working at schools a week before the beginning of the new school year.
"For the first time, budget allocated directly to schools"
We wanted to show Türkiye that our Ministry, which is getting the largest share of the budget for the last 20 years, can provide all requirements and needs of schools and allocated 3 billion and 750 million liras for the new school year preparations.
The Ministry allocated 1 billion liras to schools in İstanbul and a total of 3.1 billion liras to schools in the entire country for cleaning materials, stationary purchases, minor repairs and laboratory devices.
As of today, schools used 1 billion liras for preparations. Remaining 2,1 billion liras are in the accounts of schools.
When I was named as the Minister of National Education, I said that I will not make reforms but I will make improvements. Main point is to improve culture, in order words, making today better than yesterday. 
"We have completed projects with total worth of 3 billion liras within 1 year"
We have completed the building reinforcement and repairs of 4 thousand and 256 schools. We have finalized 10 Thousand Schools in the Basic Education Project. We have completed projects with a total worth of 3 billion liras within 1 year. As of September 1, we have appointed 20 thousand teachers. We made appointments almost every year in the last 20 years. Student per teacher figure in Türkiye has decreased from 40 students to 23 students. There are less than 25 students in 60 percent of the existing 875 thousand classrooms in the country.
"Career exam" discussions  
The Public Personnel Selection Examination (KPSS) is the only instrument we use during teacher appointments. Due to this reason, allegations made through social media are not true. We always support our teachers. Exam and head and expert teacher titles are not new in our education system.
We made improvements in the Teacher's Profession Law. There was a quota for head and expert teacher positions.
Our purpose was to allow all teachers who completed training programs and succeeded in the exam to become head or expert teachers.
Right now, the number of teachers who applied for the Expert and Head Teacher Exam is 614 thousand.
95 percent of teachers who are qualified for the exam applied to the exam.
Approximately, 554 thousand teachers applied for expert teacher and 70 thousand teacher applied for head teacher exams.
As of today, 98,5 percent of applicant teachers completed training programs.
An education system and a society are as strong as teachers.
In 2020, the number of training programs per teacher was 44 hours. We adapted school based professional development training programs for teachers.
In 2021, we allocated 10 million liras for professional development training programs. This figure increased to 292 million liras in 2022.
We must encourage our teachers to attend masters and doctorate programs.
As long as we continue to support teachers in their efforts to increase their quality, our climate will get stronger.
There are two misconceptions about Teacher's Profession Law. First of all, this law is not passed in order to improve the employee personal rights of all teachers. We do not organize head and expert teacher exams in order to make a 30 percent increase in the salaries of teachers. Secondly, exams are optional. Teachers are not obliged to enter these exams and apply for head and expert teacher positions. 
Teachers do not only teach but they also keep learning throughout their lives.
Head and expert teachers are not new in our education system. They were present for years but we made some improvements.
98 percent of teachers who are qualified to become head and expert teachers completed required training programs.
614 thousand teachers who completed education programs and every teacher who passed the exam will become head and expert teachers. There is no quota.
An education system is as strong as its teachers. Due to this reason, we always support our teachers.
We encourage teachers to academic careers; we do this by improving their employee personal rights.
The Teaching Career Steps Exam does not measure the sufficiency of teachers; it is conducted in order to measure the training program success.
Teaching is a lifelong profession.
Majority of teachers are satisfied with the Teaching Profession Law but there is a manipulation in social media which is carried out by people who are not teachers.
There will be revisions in the Teaching Profession Law in 2023. We keep consulting with the stakeholders all the time.
Schooling rate gap between 3 and 5 year old students will be removed in the long run. It is based not only on investment but also decreasing opportunity differences between schools. Our goal is to maintain the same level and quality at all schools.
At the end of this year, the schooling rate of three- five year old children will increase from 14 percent to 50 percent. Schooling rate of four year old children will increase from 35 percent to 70 percent and the schooling rate of five year old children will increase from 78 percent to 100 percent. Currently, the schooling rate of five year old children is 93 percent. We inaugurated 1,457 independent kindergartens and 10 thousand 200 preschool classrooms. 7,503 of newly appointed 20 thousand teachers are assigned to preschool institutions. There are crucial steps for Türkiye in the long term.
We limit the increase in private school tuition fees to 36-37 percent. The Directorate General for Private Education Institutions have been contacting private school administrators in order to discuss what can be done in order to provide relief to parents.
We are working in order to make VAT for private schools. VAT which is currently 8 percent will be reduced to 1 percent. We also work with related ministries in order to improve Social Security premiums of teachers working in private schools.
We made an amendment in the Vocational Education Law at the end of 2021. Number of apprentices and foremen increased from 160 thousand to 730 thousand within ten months.
There is no age limit. Any person can enroll in vocational education centers.
Students were receiving 30 percent of minimum wage as monthly salary and they were insured against occupational illnesses and accidents. These salaries were paid by the employers. Now, the state is paying this salary and employers are making a contribution by giving real workplace skill training programs to students. Moreover, foremen are now getting 50 percent of minimum wage as monthly salary.
Students enrolled in vocational centers are going to school once a week and working in a real workplace environment during the other days of the week under the mentorship of foremen students.
Employment rate of vocational education centers is 88 percent.
We founded libraries in all schools of the country. This project was initiated on October 26, 2021 with the support of Emine Erdoğan in order to provide equal opportunity in education and reduce opportunity differences between schools. We founded 16,361 libraries within two months.
Before the project, the number of books at school libraries was 29 million and currently there are 80 million books.
There were 6,970 vacant village schools in our education system. We decided to reopen them.
We lifted the student quota required to open village schools. In other words, students can be enrolled in any village school. We also reduced the number of students required to open preschool education classrooms from 10 to 5 students. This allowed us to enroll 20 thousand students in preschool education in 1,800 villages.
1 million people are getting education in public education centers every month.
Our goal was to convert 1,500 vacant village schools to village public centers. As of today, we converted 1,600 village schools to village public centers. This figure will increase to 6,970 until the end of this year.
We made cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in order to organize agriculture and husbandry courses. For example, we founded a village public center in Aydıncık district located within the borders of Altındağ municipality in Ankara and organized apiculture courses.
It is important for us to support women to become stronger, increase their employment rates and make contributions to production.

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