Buffett Institute conference examines Turkey's education crisis
On October 18 and 19, the Keyman Modern Turkish Studies program at the Buffett Institute will host the interdisciplinary conference, “Education in Turkey.”
“The Keyman program is one of the premier centers of research and learning about Turkey in the United States, and its associate director Ayça Alemdaroglu is a pioneer in thinking creatively about politics and culture in Turkey through the lens of education,” says Buffett Executive Director Annelise Riles. “This rich interdisciplinary conversation bringing together scholars from across the university and around the world will allow us to approach difficult and pressing questions about the current political moment from a fresh, lateral perspective, beyond the headlines. We are very grateful to the Keyman family for making it possible.”
In Turkey, half of the population is below 30 years of age, and therefore education will have a significant role in the country’s future political and economic trajectory. For the conference, scholars will examine the field of education in the Turkish context: What principles guide Turkish education policy? How does infrastructure affect access to education? Who decides what children learn in schools?
“Education in Turkey has always been a hotbed of political contention between groups who have competing visions for the country,” says Alemdaroglu. “Two prominent policy trends in the last decade or so have been expanding religious education and privatization. How these policy choices are affecting schools, students and the quality of education in the country is a big question at the moment, but will also have long-lasting effects in shaping generations to come. The future of Turkey lies in how it raises its children, and this conference will look at what that future looks like from where we stand today.”
Beyond the rapid expansion of private and religious schools, recent issues in Turkey include challenges to academic freedom, the dismissal of thousands of teachers and professors from their jobs, constantly changing curricula and exam systems, and the commodification of education. Last year, the Program for International Student Assessment announced that Turkey’s education system “does not comply with global standards and improvements must be made to raise quality.”
The two-day conference is free and open to the public. More details can be found on the Keyman program website.