Students at the Ali Kuşçu Primary School and their parents gathered before the Istanbul Provincial Education Directorate and issued a press statement today amid fears the school could be converted into a theological Imam Hatip High School.
Representatives from the Eighth Branch of the Turkish Education and Science Workers' Union (Eğitim-Sen) also attended the demonstration.
Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu who was passing through the area by coincidence also stopped to gather information about the event. Mutlu refused an offer by İlgin Gül, one of the students' parents, to stay for the press release, however. "I have guests, I should not stand in your way," he said.
Gül: "They declined our petition"
İlgin Gül read the press statement on behalf of the students' parents who said they could not make sense of the reason why authorities would insist on shutting the school down to convert it into an Imam Hatip school despite the fact that the building is fit only to serve as an elementary education institution.
"It will impede our school's development for [the administration] to refrain from registering new students for the 2012-2013 semester and for two schools to continue their education inside the same building. Our children will not be able to receive the education they deserve," Gül said.
They had been receiving hearsay information about the school's conversion for a long time, Gül had also said yesterday, adding that neither the Education Directorate nor the school administration had issued any replies to their questions and petitions.
The students' parents could not obtain any information from the administration about the appointment of an Imam Hatip High School Founding Director to the school either, although Mustafa Turgut, the head of Eğitim-Sen's Eighth Branch, said yesterday they were certain the transformation would take place.
It goes against regulations for two schools to continue education inside a single building, Turgut had said, adding they also had reports from inspectors that the school was fit solely for primary education.
Gül also said they had attempted to hand over a petition to the Fatih District Education Directorate this morning, only to receive this perplexing answer: "There is no point in petitioning. We cannot do anything, and thus we cannot register the petitions."
Petitioning is a constitutional right, Gül said, adding they were not going to let up on this issue.
Turgut: "'As-if' democracy"
Mustafa Turgut also took the floor during the demonstration and said people were playing a game of democracy under the guise of an actual one. Officials are trying to convert many schools in Istanbul in the same vein, while Turkey is undergoing a period of transformation in education that has no scientific basis, according to Turgut.
"They say they are taking union's views, but they are not. They are behaving as if they are taking the teachers' opinions, but they are not. They are practicing an 'as-if' democracy," Turgut said.
Some 150 students are currently receiving education at the Ali Kuşçu Primary School that was established three years ago. (EK-EO/HK/NV)