The introduction of a new law in March of 2014, adopted in an effort to close private prep schools in Turkey, has led to the closure of 1,000 schools and leaving 15,000 employees without jobs.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government came to the decision to shut down the schools in November 0f 2013, giving them until September 2015 to make the change to regular schools or face fines. The ruling was a controversial one, as many middle and lower-class families enjoy the affordable fees of the schools and see them as a way to gain a better education for their children.
However, a report prepared by Associate Professor Mustafa Zeki Yıldırım from Fatih University’s Faculty of Law states that parts of the new law are in violation of the Turkish constitution, as they are considered private institutions with characteristics of public service providers. This description means that they are given a meaning through the eyes of the law and cannot be closed down according to Article 47 of the constitution, but they could be nationalized.
In addition, the government is planning to shut down schools in Africa linked to Fethullah Gulen after he was accused of trying to create a “parallel state” and stage a coup.
“They might have established educational institutions, but they will be closed down because the Republic of Turkey education ministry will be providing the needed services for students,” President Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference in Addis Ababa.
At the same time, Turkey’s leading prep school network is denying claims that its teachers were involved a cheating scandal, calling the accusation an attempt to “defame” state exams.
The Güven Preparatory Schools Owners Association (GÜVENDER) saw its schools take the blame for cheating after the 2010 administering of the State Personnel Examination (KPSS). The association believes it is under attack in an effort to remove the test.
A document released by the Tarif Daily suggests that the AK Party plans to make it no longer a requirement for candidates to successfully pass an exam in order to find employment within the civil service. Within the document are detailed plans concerning the removal of the KPSS, along with the proposal to replace it with an interview process that would offer an advantage to those candidates who hold “references” from AK Party politicians.
The KPSS is a standard exam for entry-level employment within the civil service, which was created in order to remove favoritism in the government. Since its introduction it has largely created an equal opportunity environment within the civil service.
The accusations of cheating began in 2010, when, for the first time in Turkey, 3,227 people answered most or all of the questions on the exam correctly. A judicial investigation was launched, which seemed to be stalled for the past five years, until recently when the government renewed its focus on the scandal.