Nonformal education is one of the two components of the national education system. This component is for those who never received any formal education, those with certain skill and ability levels who are currently enrolled in a formal education program, and those who left the formal education program without receiving a degree.
The objectives of Turkey's nonformal education program are to teach reading and writing to adults who have not mastered these skills; to provide these individuals basic knowledge and, if they attended any formal education program, to build on the knowledge base of the last level they attended; and to create new opportunities that will help them earn a living. The program also explains and promotes Atatürk's reforms and principles to further develop the country's sense of national unity and solidarity. It is concerned with educating this segment of the population about new agricultural and industrial technologies and techniques so the standard of living can be improved.
Nonformal education has two components: general and vocational technical nonformal education programs. Institutes providing nonformal education include the practical arts schools for girls, advanced technical schools for girls, industrial practical arts schools, technical education centers for adults, public education centers, and apprenticeship training centers. The programs may be classified as public education, apprenticeship training, and distance education.
Most of the public education programs and activities take place in formal education centers. Any individual, regardless of age or educational background, can enroll in literacy courses, vocational courses, and social and cultural courses that are offered in many of the formal education buildings. In the 1998-1999 school term, 1,055,936 individuals participated in public education courses.
Apprenticeship training is available to fourteen to nineteen year olds who have not received formal education, to those who completed the eight-year compulsory program but were not eligible to continue their formal education, and to those who never completed the required formal education program. Individuals between the ages of fourteen and nineteen who have complete the primary education program may enter a three to four year apprenticeship training program. The apprentices attend training centers one day each week for eight to ten hours of training each time. Those who complete the training program may take the journeyman examination. If they pass the examination, they receive a journeyman certificate and may take the master's examination after three years of work experience if they continue mastership training. 267,074 students received apprenticeship training in one of 328 centers during the 1998-1999 school year.
Other options are available for those who have completed formal vocational training. They may take the master's examination after one year of work experience. Those who work at a workplace included in the law's list of vocations and who sign an apprenticeship contract are classified as students and the Ministry of National Education pays their insurance premiums during the training period. Those who complete the program receive journeymen's certificates and may enter a three-year mastership-training program. Turkish law requires a master's certificate for anyone who is employed as a foreman or who opens an independent business.
Every Turkish citizen may participate in distance education courses. Beginning in 1997 when the compulsory primary education program was extended from five to eight years, open primary education school programs were available for those who, under the previous national education program, had completed the required five-year program but not continued for the then optional three-year middle school program. This open primary education program allows individuals to compete the compulsory eight-year primary program. In the 1998-1999 school term, this program enrolled 69,076 students. The open education high school program is available to three groups of students: those who are unable to continue their formal education, those who too old to continue in the formal education program, and those who are currently enrolled in a formal education program who prefer to complete their formal education via distance learning. There were 223,184 students in open education high schools in the 1998-1999 school year.
In addition to these nonformal education programs, Turkey provides educational and training services to Turkish citizens living aboard. Turkish educational consultancies in twenty-one locations and educational attaches oversee these programs. In 1999, almost 800,000 Turkish students received education abroad; over 1,000 teachers were sent from Turkey to provide the necessary instruction.
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