Member of the Board of Trustees and Board of Trustees of the Turkish Maarif Foundation, lawyer Dr. Mahmut Mostafa OjdilAA has evaluated Turkey’s educational activities in Africa for the analysis desk.
Due to the impact of education on employment, wages of employers and economic growth, economic approaches are decisive in education policy.  Today, the right to access quality education is considered as a pillar of sustainable development in the strategy document titled UN 2030 Goal and African Union Agenda 2063. Turkey’s global contribution to “quality education” has reached a level that cannot be ignored in the last five years. Outside of schools opened abroad, the Ministry of National Education today sought to find a solution to the education problems of citizens living temporarily outside Turkey. Turkish Maarif FoundationProvides formal and non-formal education and housing services to more than 50,000 students of all nationalities, with 461 educational institutions in 49 countries around the world. Thanks to the efforts of the Maarif Foundation in Turkey, which conducts education in 20 of the least developed countries, Turkey has become one of the top 5 countries in the world in terms of the breadth of the international school chain. In parallel with deepening and strengthening relations with Africa, the Turkish Maarif Foundation has 27 of the 49 countries located in Africa.
Of course, Turkish educational activities in Africa did not start with the Turkish Ma’arif Foundation and are not limited to it. The Yunus Emre Institute, located in 9 different countries from North Africa to South Africa, the Department of Turkology established in collaboration with the continent’s well-established universities, and the Turkish Study Center, the support provided by Istanbul Technical University for the establishment of the Faculty of Engineering. Projects developed by Turkish universities within the framework of Health Studies and Erasmus + can also be mentioned among the opportunities for Turkish educational activities in Africa. On the other hand, the International Imam Hatip High School and the International Theology Program, which has long been successfully run by the Dianet Foundation, the assistance provided by vaccination in educational projects and the Presidency for Turks abroad, which provides education. Opportunities for African students under the brand of Turkish Scholarship, distinct as a flag-bearing institution. The Ministry of National Education, in addition to providing training opportunities to conduct all these studies; With its efforts in areas such as vocational training and educational formation, it adds another dimension to Turkey’s educational activities in Africa.
With the establishment of the Turkish Maarif Foundation in 2016, in the countries where educational institutions were opened by the Turkish Maarif Foundation, it has been possible for all these organizations to work in coordination without spending extra time, energy and resources like the activities of other organizations. Legally, it was subject to the permission of the Ministry of National Education.
– Africa is not a single country
As an international chain of schools, the Turkish Maarif Foundation’s African activities cover both the content of education and the construction of legal and physical foundations that will make this education possible. In order to be successful in this field, it is necessary to be able to develop unique solutions to some of the problems that have arisen in some public, some local and different planes. First, although the Pan-African approach is adopted by the African Union, with all the countries of the continent being members without exception, Africa is not the only country. On the other hand, the idea of Africa, which has spread over many centuries and has no history or civilization, consisting of endless deserts and jungles, needs to be erased from the mind. We must learn to build relationships between equals, not forgetting that we are deprived of the extraordinary contribution that Africans can make to the world because of the shameful inequalities of colonialism.
Numerous studies on increasing the quality and success of education suggest that the physical condition of schools has a very limited effect on the success of students. However, when it is considered that more than half of the school-age children in Africa cannot enter education even if they want to because there are not enough classrooms, it is clear that this would not make sense without a certain physical “presence”. In some African countries, where a single textbook may have to be shared by seven students, there is no educational constructive program for teachers. There are also problems, such as the language spoken at home is often different from the “official” language learned in school, and the curriculum and teaching strategies of the colonial era, which are detached from the realities and needs of the country, are seen as the only option. It should not be forgotten that FETO-affiliated schools, which have been operating in African countries since the 1990s, have done a great deal of damage to the educational climate in these countries.
– FETO School graduation and after
These schools, which are like a fairground where the features of the students which are considered to be pleasing to the visitors are displayed without any subtlety, on the one hand give the organization a place for brainwashing, human resource recruitment and business influence. On the other hand, they are used for illegal money traffic and other activities that do not want to be visible. When the facts became clear on July 15, the number of countries that started taking action on FETO schools increased. Although some countries preferred to close these schools, where there was no depth and coherent understanding of education, some countries nationalized them. In some countries, where the right to access to education is difficult to realize due to the gap between the number of schools and classrooms, school closure will not be an attractive option, especially considering those citizens who will become unemployed due to closure. Schools Therefore, African countries often prefer to sever the relationship of these schools with FETO and find a reliable partner for their rebirth. The relocation and transformation of these schools, which are no longer affiliated with FETO, without compromising the students, parents and staff at the Turkish Maarif Foundation, occupy a significant place in Turkey’s educational efforts in Africa.
In the last 5 years, 118 FETO approved schools in 16 African countries have been transferred to the Turkish Maarif Foundation in line with the needs of the country concerned. It is true that the transfer process was completed without any problems and after the transfer both the educational achievement and the physical quality of the schools increased significantly which strengthened the confidence in Turkey on the continent. However, reducing all the activities in it and evaluating them on this axis will not reflect the real picture.
– The key answer to the challenging question
The goal of the Turkish Maarif Foundation is to provide interaction between different cultures, to establish equal relationships, to establish an understanding that sees differences as resources and to create a dynamic learning climate that allows all actors participating in the learning process to access and reproduce information. The biggest contribution of the Turkish Maarif Foundation School; It will be a unique educational approach that shapes around local conditions and actual needs. The basis of this unique approach is a dynamic curriculum design that will respond to real needs and adapt to changing conditions from country to country, but maintain its value with a solid student profile. While students are given a strong education that allows them to pursue higher education wherever they please after high school and build the life they want in any part of the world, it is important for students to preserve their own historical and cultural heritage. Identify as smart, conscientious, strong-willed and active person and do not deviate from their own essence. In this context, in the schools of the Turkish Maarif Foundation, students are provided with a solid social science education so that they can better understand the world in which they live, as well as a good science and mathematics education. Also, the goal is to learn Turkish and another foreign language such as English or French at a better level than their mother tongue, to support their learning processes with new technologies and to ensure respect for cultural differences in schools.
In addition, although there is a private educational institution that conducts activities, it is always considered that education is a public service and in all countries where it is conducted, close cooperation is established with all government authorities, especially the Ministry of Education. In this context, as a reflection of the public’s responsibility, children who do not have access to quality education but have high potential are supported through various scholarship and support programs.
In addition to providing students with higher educational standards, schools should not be a one-way and static information transfer center to build awareness and confidence that will determine the fate of their own country. I also believe that it is very important to provide students with a suitable place where they can discover and realize their own potential. A child in one corner of the world, whom we think lives a very different life from us, but in reality, in all its uniqueness, just like our own child, who is hungry, running, fighting with his parents, is lost. Grandma, who is worried that she will get sick if she drinks sweaty water, let’s name her. When he finds a safe place where he can realize himself, just like our own children, he can change the fate of the world with a life he will save, a medicine he will find, write a poem, make a movie. , A planet he will discover, a war he will end.
 M. Ozar, “Education, Inequality and Economics”, Systemic Harmonization in Education Policy, Istanbul, 2021, p. 34-41
[Mahmut Mustafa Özdil, Türkiye Maarif Vakfının Mütevelli Heyeti ve Yönetim Kurulu Üyesi]
* The views expressed in the articles are those of the author and may not reflect the Anadolu Agency’s editorial policy.
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