Turkey’s $2-billion religious education budget

ANKARA - The share of Turkey’s education budget spent on religious education will increase by 68 percent in 2018, with nearly 7.7 billion lira ($1.97 billion) allocated for the teaching of religion, most of it at vocational Islamic schools, according to Cumhuriyet newspaper.

Over the last year alone, 250 new vocational religious schools, originally intended to train imams and preachers for mosques, have been opened, and many other schools have been converted to this model.

During the 15 years in which the AK Party has been in power, the number of students attending these schools has boomed from 60,000 to 1.1 million, or around 10 percent of all students.

The 7.7 billion lira figure reserved for the Religious Teaching General Directorate, Cumhuriyet said, represents around 35 percent of total primary and secondary education spending once the wages and benefits of staff are deducted.

Around 85 percent of that figure will be spent on the vocational religious schools, it said.