Discussion of religious education for preschool children Sedat ERGIN

Although the title of the 20th National Education Council held in Ankara earlier this month was “Equal Opportunity in Education”, one of the most controversial outcomes among the public was the recommendation to start pre-school education on religion, ethics and values.

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In the vote held at the end of the shura, “Religious, moral and values ​​education should be included in pre-school programs considering the level of development of the child.”Was adopted by a majority vote.

Although the decisions made by the National Education Council are of a recommended nature, they carry a significant weight to be discussed and matured and then implemented.

School in Turkey PRE Education Target

What does this recommendation mean? Considering that elementary school education begins at age six, it plans to teach religion, ethics, and values ​​before this age, especially for 4- and 5-year-olds who can participate in pre-school education.

The prevalence of pre-school education, which is considered crucial for the development of children, is something that Turkey has long noticed and has actually covered a certain distance. Pre-primary education is provided mainly in existing primary education institutions and also in public and private kindergartens.

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When the 2019-2020 school year began, the schooling rate for children in the 5-year-old age group rose to 71.2 percent before the epidemic began in March 2020. This rate has come down to 56.9 in the last 2020-21 academic year.

Despite the introduction of pre-school education with the opening of schools at present, there is still no shared data on enrollment rates in this department.

Meanwhile, the enrollment rate of children enrolled in pre-school at 4 years of age is far behind that of 5 year old priority clusters. For example, according to national education data, in the period 2020-2021, the school enrollment rate of this age group was 16.4 percent.

It was not in the recommendation of the ministry

Before we move on to the subject matter, let us briefly touch on how this file was handled by the Council. The Ministry of National Education shared a total of 117 suggestions with participants before the council. The title we mentioned is not part of the ministry’s recommendation to participants.

Shura on the other handSchool HeSpecialization Commission for promotion of pre-training and monitoring of quality of education systemA proposal has been presented by the Conservative-based teachers’ union, Eğitim-Bir-Sen. “

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The proposal, which was brought to the commission, which has about 30 members, is not on the agenda and is not open for discussion. The issue, which was not on the commission’s agenda and was not discussed in any way by subject matter experts, has been put to a vote among the five new proposals brought from the agenda after the vote in the General Assembly. Rally Although the proposal was adopted by a majority of the General Assembly, which was attended by about 400 delegates, 46 voted against.

Abstract elements cannot be understood in childhood

An assessment jointly developed by the Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV) and the Education Reform Initiative (ERG), two of Turkey’s most important non-governmental organizations in the field of education, reflects a scientifically critical approach to pre-school religious education.

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In the assessment of AÇEV and ERG, who are both council participants, it was noted that young children do not understand abstract items in their childhood and they think more about concrete objects based primarily on scientific literature. This field. According to the assessment,Introducing and / or imposing these elements on children in the name of teaching religion, morality or values ​​in childhood is a thought that the child cannot realize in his mind.sThe former Or confusion, and sometimes fear.sThere may be costs.

In evaluation “.Due to their developmental characteristics, children may understand these information / concepts, and even expecting to follow certain religious rules in childhood does not fit the objectives of the general education system.“Is called.

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In the text, continue “It will adhere to the universal definition of values ​​education and ethical education and scientific education. sIt was built in such a way that religious education did not exist at this time. sIn the plant The educational opportunities offered to children are not included Requiredcrochet“It simply came to our notice then.

At the end of the report, it is recommended that the recommendation be evaluated within the framework of scientific research evidence and in accordance with the rules and standards of child rights and national law before implementation.

In current practice, elementary school begins in the fourth grade

At the moment, there is something we should underline. In current practice, primary education is compulsory “Religious culture and moral cultureNot in the first grade, but in the fourth grade, when children reach the age of nine. Therefore, although this course is not included in the curriculum in the first three years of primary school, its recommendation for the pre-school period appears as a title that needs to be explained.

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Also, the first, second and third grades of primary schools in the previous 19th National Education Council held in 2014 “Religious culture and moral knowledgeAlthough it was recommended to include “Course”, this recommendation was not implemented.

Another aspect of the issue relates to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). A number of decisions have been issued by the European Council of Ministers on the grounds that Turkey has not implemented the ECHR’s infringement decisions on compulsory religion classes. Following these decisions, the passage of religious education in pre-school education seems to be able to create a new problem between Turkey and the Council of Europe.

In the meantime, we remind you that the Presidency on Religious Affairs has provided religious education to children aged 4-6 in kindergartens opened by municipalities and associations since 2013-2014. Dianet’s 2020 annual report states that 181,808 students aged 4-6 receive religious education. Of these, 90,657 are boys and 91,151 are girls.

Minister: ‘It is recommended, there is no compulsory application’

What is the status of the national education minister? Mahmoud Ozar What does he think? After the council, the Minister answered questions specifically on the subject:

As the Minister of National Education, I cannot discuss the validity and falsity of the proposal here. You know, council decisions are advisory decisions. There is no obligation to apply or approve. National Ministry of EducationAs the highest advisory board S.uraActively determined by us On priority His work We wanted therefore National Ministry of Education Attitude S.uraBoth unanimous and unanimous All widely accepted Decision We will re-evaluate, determined Equality of opportunity in education In the necessary place of sub-heading within its structure We will say and draw our roadmap accordingly. So every decision taken here is national Ministry of Education This does not mean that we accept, reject or accept

It can be seen that the National Education Minister does not bind himself in any way by speaking in general. More importantly, it reminds us that as a ministry, they want to work on the priorities they set in the council. The proposal was not among these priorities.

The status of implementation of this recommendation made by the Council will be one of the important questions to be followed in the field of education in the future.

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