Kurdish no longer offered as elective subject in public schools - Mezopotamya

Kurdish language, which has been offered as an elective subject by the Turkish Ministry of Education since 2012, has effectively been removed from the ministry’s curriculum, pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency reported on Monday.

The introduction of up to two hours of Kurdish classes in grades 5, 6, 7 and 8 in schools where there is sufficient demand has failed to get off the ground due to inadequate classrooms, lack of teachers or students being forced to choose another elective, according to officials and students, the agency said.

The inclusion of Kurdish as an elective course in Turkey’s schools arrived as part of a Turkey's reforms introduced by then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party to ease tensions with the Kurdish minority, who account for approximately 15 percent of the country’s population.

A total of 77,931 students chose Kurdish - Kurmanji and Zazaki - as an elective in academic year 2015-2016, according to the latest statistics on students by the Ministry of Education (MEB).

However, the ministry has only appointed 59 teachers for Kurdish in total classes to date, Mezopotamya Agency said, citing MEB statistics.

No teachers have been assigned as Kurdish teachers for the current academic year, it added.

The Vice Chair of Diyarbakır Educational Union Branch No.2 Recep Şimşek maintains the problem is caused by a lack of teachers and course materials provided by the ministry.

"School administrations do not provide adequate information, and parents are being misled. Parents are told there is not enough demand or teachers, and encouraged to pick different electives for their children,’’ Şimşek said.

According to a 2009 study within Turkey’s Kurdish-speaking population, approximately 46 percent of the country’s Kurdish population have not completed primary education, which accounts for 9 percent of the Turkish population as a whole. Some 37 percent of the Kurdish-speaking population is illiterate.