Sixty-nine percent of Turkish religious schools places unfilled – report

Sixty-nine percent of places at Turkey’s religious Imam-Hatip schools remain vacant despite government pressure for parents to enroll students there, Sozcu newspaper reported citing data provided by the education ministry this week.

The figures compare with two-percent vacancy rates at grammar schools, known as Anadolu Lisesi, the newspaper said.

Despite the demand for grammar-school places and the reluctance of parents to send their children to religious schools, the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has increased the number of Imam Hatips to 485 from 440 since it came to power in 2002.

The problem of supply and demand in Turkey’s school system is no more apparent than in Istanbul’s Kagithane district, home to 440,000 people with the choice of two grammar schools and six Imam Hatips, Sozcu said.

Occupany rates at occupational schools are currently 55 percent, the newspaper said.