Constitutional & Legal Foundations
Because of Turkey's emphasis on education, there are many laws and regulations that deal with education. Policies and programs for Turkey's national education system are determined and executed within the framework of Atatürk's Thoughts and Opinions Concerning Education, the country's constitution, and the laws governing education and training. The government programs and development plans emphasize education because it is seen as the most important component for Turkey's economic, technological, and social developments.
According to Article 42 of the Constitution, everyone has the right to receive an education. Depending upon individuals' interests and capabilities, they are guided through various programs and schools. The Education Integrity Law of March 3, 1924, made the Ministry of National Education responsible for all educational institutions and all educational training.
Basic National Education Law Number 1739 provides for the organization and general structure of the educational system and delineates the State's responsibilities in education and training. The law states that the objective of education is to educate individuals who adopt the values of the Turkish nation, who know and have accepted their duties and responsibilities to their country, who have mastered the subject matter and can apply that knowledge and technology, and who are democratic citizens that respect human rights. Article 2 of the Law on Private Education Institutions stipulates that programs and curricula of all private education institutions must be aligned with the Turkish National Education objectives and principles.
The Primary Education and Training Law Number 222 organized primary education in a systematic, integrated manner. Regulation Number 2201 on Guidance Services of the Ministry of National Education recognizes the importance of training advisors and guidance counselors to work with students and evaluate their interests, talents, and potentials in vocational and academic areas. One provision of Law Number 2841 requires public institutions to provide reading and writing courses for their illiterate employees.
Basic Law Number 1735 on National Education established the objectives and functions of secondary education, identified those eligible to attend, and delineated the types of programs available. The law also provided for early admission to the secondary program for those who demonstrated special abilities in the fine arts.
The National Education Principal Law Number 1739 divided the Turkish educational system into two parts: formal and nonformal. Formal education covered the four-level school system: preschool education, primary education, secondary education, and tertiary education. Nonformal education covered vocational and training programs for those who had never received any formal education or who left the formal education program.
The Basic Law of National Education Number 1739, passed in 1973, focused on higher education. In 1981, the Higher Education Law was passed, leading to the reorganization of academies, teacher training colleges and vocational schools. Private universities were the subject of Higher Education Law Number 2547, which was passed in 1984. The Apprenticeship and Vocational Law Number 3308 of June 5, 1986, was enacted to develop Turkey's vocational and technical education system so that it is a cooperative program between schools and industries. This law established a system for students to attend schools two days each week and receive on the job training for three days each week. The business pays the students who receive this skill training a set wage, and the government provides students with insurance.
Turkey's Five-Year Development Plan for 1996-2000 lead to the passage of Law Number 4306, which went into effect in August 1997. This law extended the number of years of compulsory primary education from five to eight beginning with the 1999-2000 academic year and provided for an increase in the number of teachers and classrooms so that the maximum number of students in each room is thirty. One of the first steps to implementing this provision has been hiring 27,000 new teachers. Law number 4306 also directed that foreign language instruction would begin in the fourth grade rather than the sixth and that computer and audio-visual equipment would be more widely used.
Turkey's formal and nonformal education and training are included in the country's five-year development plans. The State Planning Organization coordinates the implementation and evaluation of the plans. The Five Year Development Plan for 1996-2000 placed education in the highest priority sector. A master plan for the educational system through 2010 is being developed. This plan will stress the need to be flexible to meet the advancing needs of the individual and the nation as well as the global demands for a changing society.
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