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Studying in Turkey

Photo: Salih Güler
Following the foundation of the Turkish Republic, reforms were undertaken in education. Under the law for the unification of education, which was ratified in 1924, all schools were annexed to the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education was charged with the task of implementing a contemporary mode of education training for Turkish citizens by opening primary and secondary schools and other institutes and arranging courses within the framework of the educational policies decided upon. Today the Ministry also meets the requirements of these institutions in the ways of teachers and administrators and draws up the respective rules, regulations. It also arranges educational high schools for children of school age who are needy or require special care.

The goal of the Turkish national education system could be summed up as being one where all individuals of the state are gathered together as an inseparable whole, united in national consciousness and thinking, trained to think along scientific lines with intellectually broadened views on world affairs, and to be productive happy individuals, who through their skills contribute to the prosperity of society and are instrumental in making the Turkish nation a creative and distinguished member of the modern world.

Official Language: Turkish
Alphabet: Latin alphabet, since 1928
Academic year: September through May/June
Duration of Schooling: 8 plus 4
Compulsory Schooling: 8 years (ages 6-14)

The Turkish National Education System
In Turkey education is performed under the supervision and control of the state. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, everyone has the right to receive education. Individuals are educated by orienting them to various high schools and schools throughout their education, depending on their interests and capabilities. It is essential that the educational system should realize this orientation. The objective of education, according to the Basic Law for National Education, is to educate individuals:

Who adopt the values of the Turkish nation
Who know the duties and responsibilities to their country and have made them a part of their behavior,
Who can produce knowledge, utilize the knowledge and technology produced
Who are democratic citizens and respect human rights

Furthermore, the objective of the National Education System also includes preparing them for the future by preparing them for a profession that will contribute to the happiness of themselves and the society.

The Principles of the Turkish National Education:
According to the Constitution governing the Republic no one shall be deprived of the right to learn or the right to education. Furthermore, primary education is compulsory and free in state schools. Except in specially licensed institutions Turkish must be taught as the mother tongue and religious instruction is a compulsory subject in the primary and secondary school curriculum.
The Following are the constitutional principles underlining the Turkish Educational system:
1. Universality and equality
2. Fulfillment of individual and social needs
3. Freedom of choice
4. Right to education
5. Quality of opportunity
6. Education for all throughout life
7. Adherence to Atatürk's Reform principles including secularism
8. Building of democracy
9. Scientific approach
10. Co-education
11. School parent cooperation.
12.The Structure of the Turkish National Education System

Formal Education
Pre-School (0-6) Kindergarten
In Turkey, preschool education, which is optional and considered an adjunct to the public education system rather than an integral part of it, includes the education of children in the 3-5 years of age group. Preschool education is given in kindergartens, preparatory classrooms, application classrooms, day nurseries, nursery schools, day-care homes, and child care homes by various ministries and institutions, but mostly by the Ministry of National Education. The children can benefit from these institutions on a full or half day basis. Families pay a certain amount to have their children benefit from preschool education. Most kindergartens are privately operated and some are attached to the state primary schools. They are concentrated in the larger towns and cities, where they meet a need arising from the rapidly increasing number of working mothers.
The goal of preschool education is to help children develop physically, mentally and individually, and develop their ability to use language and prepare them for primary school.

Primary School (6-14), Public School, Private Schools, Special Education Schools
8 years of primary education is compulsory for every child and begins as soon as they reach the age of six and includes the education and training of children in the 6-14 years of age group. Uninterrupted education is carried out in these schools and the students who graduate are given a primary education diploma. The fact that primary education is compulsory for all male and female citizens and it is free of charge in the State schools is guaranteed in the Constitution, Basic Law for National Education and the Law for Primary Education and Training. Furthermore, besides the State schools, there are also many private primary education schools providing students educational services in return for a tuition fee. In State schools students dress similarly in a type of uniform. Children who fail to reach the required standard at the end of any year may repeat it.
The objective of primary education is to provide children with the required basic knowledge, ability, behavior and habits for them to become good citizens and to prepare them for life and further education according to their interests and abilities. Furthermore, in the second semester of the final year of primary education the students are informed by counselor of the subjects of the schools, high schools and various choices of occupation.

High schools (14-18)
The objective of high school education is to provide the students with a common general culture, to prepare them to take responsibility within the democratic society, to make them respectful of human rights and to prepare them for higher education or business life in the direction of their interests, abilities and capabilities with a consciousness for contributing to the socioeconomic and cultural development of the country,

General High schools
Highschools are mostly owned by the government and provide free educational opportunities. Graduates of these high schools can attend universities after the university entrance examination. The centralized examination is administrated by the Supreme Council of Higher Education. It is used to determine which candidates are eligible for enrollment in which university and faculty. Additionally, students are evaluated based on the grades of related subjects, their high school results and their preferences according to the student capacity of each faculty.

Science High schools
Science high schools were established with the aim of providing education to exceptionally gifted mathematics and science students; providing a source for the training of high-level scientists, in order to meet the needs of nation; encouraging students to engage in research activities; providing facilities for students interested in working on inventions and discoveries; serving as laboratory for procedures to be implemented in the science and mathematics programs of other secondary schools.
These schools offer a four-year program with a curriculum that emphasizes science and mathematics. The schools in accordance with regulations are boarding schools. The language of instruction is Turkish. Entrance to science high schools generally requires the highest scores on entering exams.
With the aim of organizing, coordinating, supervising, and evaluating guidance, psychological counseling and special education services at educational institutions, a special education guidance and counseling services unit has been established in each province. Each unit is administered by an assistant provincial director or section head attached to a provincial directorate of national education.

Anatolian High Schools
These selective institutions were established for the purpose of teaching students at least one foreign language, which they can utilize to further their education in the best possible manner. The educational period covers 4 years with a one-year preparatory course (2 year prep course for French). Aside from foreign language lessons the normal high school includes science and mathematics lessons given in English or French.
Graduates are generally very successful in the university entrance exams. The demand for places in Anatolian high schools is high and admission is through a very competitive entrance examination. By the year 2002, the middle school sections of these high schools will have been progressively phased out.

Anatolian Fine Arts High Schools
These schools have been opened for children to develop special talents and to preserve cultural, artistic and national values. Tuition duration is four years, including a one-year preparatory course.

Foreign Language High Schools
Foreign Language High Schools were established with the aim of preparing high achieving students for higher education programs which correspond to their interests, abilities, and level of achievement; providing more effective foreign language teaching; raising the level of general secondary education; providing more extensive foreign language instruction.
The period of study at these schools is 4 years, with the first year being devoted to an intensive foreign language preparatory program.

Special Training Schools
The special training services in Turkey are carried out in special training schools established according to disability groups. Today special training services are provided for children and youth in five different disability groups, including blindness, deafness, orthopedic disabilities, mental retardation and long-term illnesses. The objective of special training is to meet the educational needs of individuals who need special training, to integrate them into society and provide them with a vocation. The students who need special training are also provided with the opportunity to receive education at the regular schools together with the students of their own age. An attempt is being made to implement called "combining".
These schools were also established for those of high intelligence to enable them to become useful members of the community and attain a profession. Education is free in these schools, they provide day classe, boarding and lodgings.

Schools for the Blind: These schools offer educational opportunities to those children whose vision is lower than 1/10 for both eyes and who are termed blind, and for those whose vision for both eyes is seriously impaired (between 1/10 and 1/30).

Schools for the Deaf : These schools offer educational opportunities to those children who, notwithstanding all the measures taken, have a loss of hearing of more than 70 decibels and who are classified as very deaf and for those children whose loss of hearing is between 25-70 decibels and who are classified as "hard of hearing". The educational period in the primary school section is six years. Some of these centers have a secondary school section and a kindergarten.

School for the Orthopedic Handicapped : This school offers educational opportunities to those children who notwithstanding all the measures taken are not able to follow a normal course of education because of the deformations of their bodies. The school is in Ankara and consists of a primary school, a handicrafts secondary school and a vocational high school.

School for Retarded Children : This school is for children with an I.Q. between 25-44, and they are trained so that they are able to look after their own personal needs.

Schools for Retarded Children Who Can Be Trained: This is a school for children with an I.Q. that is between 45-75.

Private Educational Institutions
These educational institutions are composed of every stage and type of schools opened in accordance with Law No. 625 and private classrooms and courses. These institutions continue their activities under the supervision and surveillance of the Ministry of National Education. When the dimensions of educational activities are taken into consideration, it appears that it will be beneficial for some of the educational services to be carried out by the private sector. The share of private schools in general education today is 1.5 percent. Extensive opportunities are provided for students in fee-paying private schools, particularly in foreign language education computer education.

Academic Calendar: The academic year generally begins in mid September or early October and extends through to May or early June, with some variations between urban and rural areas. The school day comprised of a morning and an afternoon session except in overcrowded schools, where a split session may be required. Schools are in session for five days a week. There is also a two-week winter break in February.
Universities and colleges usually organize the academic year into two semesters, the first extending from October to January, and the second from February/March to June/July.

The Higher Education System
All universities and institutitons of higher education are connected to the Higher Education Council (YÖK) established by Law No. 2547 dated 6 November 1981. YÖK is an autonomous organization having a public juristic personality within the framework of the duties and authorities given by the Higher Education Law, which regulates higher education and directs the activities of the higher education institutions. YÖK prepares short and long-term plans to establish and develop higher education institutions and to educate in Turkey or abroad the teaching staff required and monitors the application. Furthermore, it provides for cooperation and coordination among the higher education institutions. The Higher Education Supervisory Board, ÖSYM and other related units for planning, namely research, development, evaluation, budget, investment and coordination are connected to YÖK.
The Minister of National Education represents higher education in the Parliament and can chair the meetings of the Council but has no vote. Neither decisions of the Council nor those of the universities are subject to ratification by the Ministry.
Higher education is defined as all post-secondary programs with a duration of at least two years. The system consists of universities (53 state and 19 private) and non-university institutions of higher education (police and military academies and colleges).
Each university consists of faculties and four-year schools, offering bachelor's level programs, the latter with a vocational emphasis, and two-year vocational schools offering pre-bachelor's (associate's) level programs of a strictly vocational nature.
Anadolu University in Eskisehir offers two-and year programs through distance education. This program has been greatly expanded in recent years, although entry remains competitive. Students use printed materials, and the university also broadcasts lectures on television and contact hours are available.
Graduate-level programs consist of master and doctoral programs, coordinated by institutes for graduate studies. Medical specialty training programs equivalent to doctoral level programs are, carried out within the faculties of medicine and the training hospitals owned by the Ministry of Health (Sağlık Bakanlığı) and the Social Insurance Organization (Sosyal Sigortalar Kurumu, SSK).
Universities, faculties, institutions and four-year schools are founded by law, while two-year vocational schools and departments are established by the Council of Higher Education. Likewise, the opening of a degree program at any level is subject to ratification by the Council.
A special examination is held once a year for foreign students by the same organization. As the examination papers are in both Turkish and English, knowledge of Turkish is not necessary. Those who pass the exams, and have only a little knowledge of Turkish, are considered to be on leave for a period of one year to gain proficiency in the Turkish language. Turkish language courses for foreigners are given by the Turkish Teaching Centre (TÖMER) of Ankara University. There are also Turkish language courses in Istanbul and Izmir at various universities.

Higher Education
Private Universities
State Universities
Student Permit
Private Schools - Ankara
Private Schools - Istanbul
Mandatory Health Insurance for Expats
Home Sweet Home
For the Official Status
Documents to Carry With
Embassies and Consulates
Personal Security Precautions
Working in Turkey
Studying in Turkey
Turkish Legal System
Financial System
Translation Services
Speaking Turkish
Customs Regulations

Latest comments about this article

 By be_cool  6.3.2009

Hi, how are you? im really impressed from the standard of education in turkiye, so lately i was really interested to study in one of the universities in turkiye but i dont know how is the procedure for a international student to be accepted in turkish universities ? I hope i could find my answer in this website. Thank you.

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