In the past decade, Turkey has made great progress in getting its children—both girls and boys—enrolled in primary school. But now the quality of that education is coming under scrutiny.
Research shows that Turkish teenagers are behind their counterparts in other comparable countries.
Gender parity is not enough
Turkey has had great success in raising enrollments, especially of girls, in the last ten years. The country has also succeeded in getting more children into school earlier; a massive public campaign advising parents that "Seven is Too Late" to begin school has boosted the number of kids in the country's Kindergartens.
Now the issue is more complicated.
"Our main challenge today is making sure the education is the right one. Are we teaching kids what they need to know?" asks Ayla Goksel, who runs the Mother and Child Education Foundation in Istanbul. "Are we teaching kids what they need to know to survive in the workforce and also thrive in life? I think that is the next great challenge we face."She says the philosophy behind Turkish education needs to evolve, from rote memorization to critical thinking and reasoning skills.
Focusing on the big picture
With support from the World Bank, Turkey is tackling education policy. One priority is better training and better pay for teachers. Another is a focus on early childhood education. Yet another is curriculum reform. Overcrowding and the gap in the quality of education between richer and poorer areas, city and country, are also issues.
These issues raise larger questions about how Turkey wants to shape its future workforce.