Members of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Public Employees (KESK) started to gather in Ankara on Wednesday (28 March) to protest against the so-called 4+4+4 Draft Bill on Education and the Draft Bill on Public Servants' Trade Unions.
The KESK members are meeting at the centre of the capital for protest actions that will be continued for two days. The Ankara Governorship did not issue permission for the protest by reasons of an anticipated "opposition against Law No. 2911 on Meetings and Demonstrations".
KESK announced not to cancel the protest actions and invited the Governorship not to prevent democratic reactions.
The parliamentary debate on the 4+4+4 draft bill on education started on Tuesday (27 March). The Education and Science Workers' Union (Eğitim-Sen) affiliated with KESK went on strike on 28 till 29 March in protest of the draft law.
Eğitim Sen President Ünsal Yıldız claimed that the news system was going to have a negative effect on the future of the children and called on the parents not to send their children to school on 28/29 March.
85 KESK members who came to Ankara from Adana last night (27 March) were taken into police custody. Entry to the capital was denied to groups from Izmir, Aydın, Balıkesir, Manisa, Kocaeli, Bursa, Malatya, Batman, Urfa, Konya, Hatay, Zonguldak and Tokat.
After a long waiting time, the confederation members were eventually allowed to enter the city. They are going to meet in Kızılay at midday to start their protest march together with the other groups.
Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies Hüseyin Aygün, Veli Ağababa and Süleyman Çelebi are supporting the crowd. Numerous riot forces teams are observing the scene.
TEPAV Research: Budged increase of 54 percent
According to a study conducted by the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), the annual budget for this educational year would have to be increased by a minimum of 54 percent if the draft bill was going to pass into law. The cost of the educational year would increase by TL 20.7 billion in order to secure and improve the quality of education.
The draft bill foresees to lower the age of first grade primary school students from six to five years of age. Based on data of the Turkey Statistical Institute (TÜİK) and the Ministry of National Education (MEB), there are 1.3 million children in that age group. The expected enrollment rate amounts to 70 percent.
Considering the cost for additional classrooms, TL 5.5 billion have to be allocated to the age group of five-year-old students. For high school and vocational school students, a budget of TL 13 billion will be needed.
Need of teachers
The number of necessary teacher is estimated to range at around 110,800. Converted into monthly salaries, this means expenditures of TL 2.1 billion for the educational year 2012/2013.
Hence, the total cost for the 2012/2013 educational year at primary and secondary schools amounts to TL 20.7 billion. This figure makes up for about 54 percent of the 2012 Central Administrative Budget of TL 38 billion as allocated by the Ministry of Education.
Budget will double with increased education quality
In order to improve the quality of education, the number of students per class should be decreased in order to bring the class sizes more in line with the OECD average.
Considering the quality improvement of a twelve-year compulsory education with classes of 24 students and cost for teachers, the TEPAV study calculated a total cost of TL 36.6 billion. This is 96 percent of the MEB 2012 budget. The research foundation also claimed that the MEB budget should be doubled in order to improve the quality of education. (NV/YY)