"Building Future Ready Vocational Education and Training System: Learning Türkiye's Experience in Vocational Education and Training Reform" summit was organized in cooperation between the Ministry of National Education and OECD in İstanbul in order to share and review the vocational education reform achieved in Türkiye.

Minister of National Education Mahmut Özer said during his speech at the summit hosted by the Ministry of National Education in cooperation with the OECD and the Europe Education Fund at the İSO Assembly Hall that education is the most important instrument used in increasing the quality of human resources, the most important capital of every country. Özer reminded that the OECD countries have increased schooling rates in all levels of education to 90 percent in the 1950s after World War II adding that, "Unfortunately, Türkiye failed to manage this process successfully until the 2000s. Schooling rate in all levels of education except from primary school was below 50 percent back then. But, we carried out important campaigns under the leadership of our President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the last twenty years in order to overcome our shortcomings in education."
"We carried out education campaign in all parts of Türkiye without making any discrimination"
Özer stated that Türkiye went through a massive transformation in education in all cities and districts of the country without making any discrimination in the last twenty years and built new schools and classrooms in every part of the country.
"In 2000s, the schooling rate of five year old children was only 11 percent and today it is 98 percent. Schooling rate in primary school currently reached 99.63 percent, in other words 100 percent. Schooling rate in secondary education is 99.44 percent. Schooling rate at the high school level was 44 percent in the 2000s and it reached 95 percent today. In other words, our country completed its massification process in the last twenty years," stated Özer.
Özer noted that socioeconomically disadvantaged children and female students were the winners of the massification of education. He said, "All barriers preventing an increase in the schooling rate of female students were lifted and the schooling rate of female students in secondary education which was 39 percent in the 2000s reached 95 percent today."
Reminding that Türkiye gradually increased its success graphs in international study success surveys such as PISA and TIMMS in the last twenty years, Özer said Türkiye continued to improve the quality in education while completing the massification process.
Special solutions for the special problems of Türkiye in vocational education were designed
Özer noted that the entire world is experiencing serious problems due to the fact that academically successful students avoid vocational education adding that special solutions for the special problems of Türkiye in vocational education were designed.
"We faced problems special to our country. Especially in the 1999s, education policy based on preventing vocational high school students from enrolling in higher education caused a trauma and academically successful students alienated from vocational education. Vocational education turned into a school where academically unsuccessful students study and they become more and more disadvantaged when teachers lowered success expectations from students. After 2012, we lifted coefficient practice and our Ministry showed a significant effort in order to reinforce vocational education. We made two important changes in our approach. First of all, we carried out vocational education in two channels, one is the vocational and technical high schools and the other is the vocational education centers."
Özer explained that they have established a management model based on learning from the experience of the private sector without expecting any financial support.
"We updated the education program of vocational high schools and plan skill training in a real business environment in cooperation with the private sector. We also organize on the job and professional development training programs for vocational school teachers. We expect the private sector to prioritize the graduates of vocational schools during employment."
The Ministry has been acting with TOBB, ATO, ASO and İSO and this attempt encouraged academically successful students to enroll in vocational education.
Özer went on to say that: "Production capacity of vocational education increased accordingly. These schools make production and get a share from the income according to their contribution in the production. We increased production capacity in order to redesign the vocational education based on earning while learning mentality. We also focused on intellectual property rights.  With the support of our President, we have founded 55 R&D Centers in vocational high schools and the number of registered products of these schools reached 8 thousand and 300."
Apprentice and foreman training programs based on "ahi" culture in our history
Concerning the second step in vocational education, Özer mentioned vocational education centers which are equivalent to the dual vocational education in Germany.
"Actually, it is based on tens of thousands of years old 'ahi' culture in our history. Students go to school once a week and attend apprentice and foreman training programs at real workplaces for four days a week. The purpose is to raise the human resources demanded by the small and medium sized enterprises," said Özer.
Özer reminded that his Ministry amended the law on vocational education on December 25, 2021 which stipulated that the state will pay 30 percent of minimum wage to vocational education center students as a monthly salary and 50 percent of minimum wage to foremen students as a monthly salary.
"Number of apprentices and foremen in vocational education centers was 159 thousand eleven months ago and now this figure has reached 1 million and 108 thousand. Our goal was 1 million students. I believe that we will exceed our goal and the number of students will reach 1 million and 200 thousand students by the end of this year. This growth will continue in 2023. Share of vocational education in secondary education was 32 percent in 2021 and it recently reached 44 percent. This is an important indicator that measures the performance of transition from education to employment," stressed Özer.
"For the first time in Türkiye, international students enrolled in vocational education schools"
Noting that vocational education centers in Türkiye played an important role in decreasing young unemployment rates, Özer said, "The Ministry of National Education and our government intervened while the entire world suffers from economic and supply chain problems in this crucial period.  When we review the student profile of 1 million and 108 students enrolled in vocational education centers, we see that 55 percent of them are over 18 years old. Another crucial move was to encourage women to enroll in these centers."
Özer went on to say that: "On December, 2021, the number of apprentices and foremen was 159 thousand and only 27 thousand of them were women. Right now, this figure is 1 million and 108 thousand and 326 thousand of them are women. In other words, women are more resilient and stronger in the labor market when they are equipped with vocational education. This transformation
Özer said that this transformation provided a balance in the secondary education system and allowed the ministry to educate the human resources needed in the labor market.
In 2022, the Ministry has founded 7 international vocational and technical Anatolia high schools in order to share this experience with the world and international students enrolled in these schools.
"In other words, Türkiye is no longer a country which has antidemocratic practices and traumatic interventions in its vocational education system but a country which can be an inspiration to its region like OECD General Secretary stated," Özer added.
Meanwhile, the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Türkiye (TOBB) Chairman Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu thanked Minister Özer for his support to the vocational education during his speech at the summit and noted that TOBB has acted with the vision that education is a prior issue of the country.
"I wish that vocational education will become an important instrument in responding to the human resources needs of the private sector. We have seen the support of Özer who made the most important revolution in the vocational education history of our country. We signed a cooperation protocol with the Ministry of National Education about internship of vocational education students and prioritized them during hiring. Vocational education and the private sector have a direct relationship. One cannot exist without the other. We must establish a very strong communication and coordination between the vocational education and the private sector. We make investments in vocational education in order to prepare a future for our children," said Hisarcıklıoğlu.
OECD İstanbul Center Director Achraf Bouali noted during his speech that OECD İstanbul Center was established with the purpose of providing an environment for the countries in the region to exchange views and experience adding that, "It is established in order to provide countries located from Europe to Asia and Balkans the opportunity to exchange experience. We are happy to share the experience of Türkiye in vocational education and training."

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