Fittingly enough given it would have been Douglas Adam’s 60th birthday on the 11th of March these words have been running through my head repeatedly in the last few days.
The government have decided to change the education system. This should be greeted with shouts of joy and delight as there are plenty of things that could be improved on. But instead of changing the curriculum or adjusting the exam system (which changes every few years anyway) the plan is to actually change the structure completely. This is generally unheard of in other countries; Ireland’s system of 8 years primary and 5/6 years secondary hasn’t changed in donkeys years. In Turkey the structure only changed a decade ago. I remember the final phasing in of the new system was a news topic in my early years here.
So currently there is a (compulsory in some areas) preschool year age 5, 8 years primary (from age 6 up) and 4 years high school. There are many types of high school apart from normal ones; technical/vocational, religious, science, art etc. Primary education is mandatory.
The changes would be to a 4+4+4 system. Four years of primary, 4 years of middle school and 4 years high school. Middle schools would have the same streams as the current high schools do, technical/vocational, religious, etc. Initially the changes were to allow homeschooling (sitting exams but not attending school) after primary but there was outcry and that has been dropped. Other potential changes are that school may start a year younger, with the first year as a preschool year where no reading and writing are taught.
How can a 10/11 year old choose what area they are interested in, choose their vocation? Will girls be forced (by their families) to attend kiz meslek schools where they are taught how to be good housewives without ever learning a science subject or a language? Will the curriculum actually change? How will the changes be integrated into the current system? If children start school a year earlier, will they end up leaving school a year earlier than currently?
These changes are intended to be in place by September 2012! There is a provision to put it off for a year though.
With a son due to start primary in September and a daughter in second class, this is on my mind a lot. I’m not the only person confused though. In all the many debates about this I have yet to hear one person talk about the benefits of the change based on scientific research and studies. Organisations speaking out against the changes get an earful from the government.
Calm down a minute…
To mirror a typical Turkish exam question, the changes…
(a) may never happen
(b) may change form a dozen times
(c) as reported are speculation, gossip and rumour
(d) are all of the above.