Dec 19 2017

Turkey has long way to go on minority rights - education minister

Religious and linguistic minorities in Turkey are being insufficiently catered for, the secularist Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted Turkey’s education minister as saying.

The situation was “OK, but not enough,” İsmet Yılmaz told parliament.

“If (minorities in Turkey) have any needs, let’s compensate them together.”

In particular, Yılmaz highlighted the number of teachers employed in Kurdish language teaching and the place of the Alevi religious minority in the school textbooks.

Yılmaz said there were a total of 108 Kurdish language teachers: 94 teaching the dialect of Kurmanci which is found mostly in Turkey’s southeast, and 14 teaching Zazaki, which is found further north around the cities of Elazığ and Tunceli.

With regard to Alevi citizens, Yılmaz said the ministry was trying to abide by decisions taken by the European Court of Human Rights.

“In general - after we talked to our Alevi brothers – they definitely don’t want religion lessons to be abolished,” Yılmaz said.

“The thing they want in the scope of the constitution is this: ‘Introduce us as we are, in the right way. Our children should know us’.”

Yılmaz also defended the employment of teachers without tenure, saying it had become necessary.

“The turnover of teachers in the east and the southeast is too much. One of the ways to get rid of this is (the contracts) system.”

“Why did you bring in contracted teachers? We appointed 17,000 teachers to Şanlıurfa, and the next year 13,000 of them left,” Yılmaz said.

“This is not sustainable. If you were in my position, you would do the same thing.”