The Education Ministry’s removal of the co-education clause from its regulations has stirred a debate in Turkey, facing criticism that such a move was undertaken to lay the groundwork for gender-segregated education on a wide scale.
However, the ministry said as per the Basic Law on National Education, mixed-sex education at schools is essential.
“Article 15 of the basic law on national education says, ‘The co-education of girls and boys at schools is fundamental. But, depending on the education type, opportunities and difficulties, some schools might offer education to only girls or boys.’ As it has been stipulated by the relevant media organs, the termination of co-education or laying the groundwork for such a situation is strictly not the case,” the Education Ministry said in a statement on Sept. 11.
The ministry’s statement came after it revised the regulation on “opening, shutting down and naming institutions” and removed the clause reading “Education at multi-program Anatolian high schools, vocational and technical education centers and vocational education centers is to be taught coed.” The updated regulation was published in the Official Gazette on Sept. 10.
In a bid to clarify what the revision stipulates, presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Sept. 11 that co-education in Turkey is to “continue as is.”
“Our ministry has issued a statement. A regulation has been undertaken based on a court decision following a citizen’s application [of appeal against the relevant clause]. But, this has been turned into propaganda alleging the ban of co-education in Turkey. Such a case is not the issue,” Kalın said during a press meeting following a Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara.
“But there is a decision enabling the provision of education in some schools to be gender-segregated. An increase in options, not the minimization of them, is the case here,” Kalın said, adding “democratic societies” require an increase in options to offer citizens in terms of the number of school types.
“No political governance can attempt to ban co-education, which is the chief pillar of the Republic [of Turkey]. Education Minister Ziya Selçuk is a person who has a scientific background in education. I do not think he will let a step be taken that will ban co-education,” CHP Vice Chair Yıldırım Kaya said.
“The basic law on national education accepts co-education as essential. It says that in compulsory situations, girls or boys high schools can be opened. The removal of the phrase ‘co-education’ will pave the way for girls or boys high schools. It removes a legal security,” said Özgür Bozdoğan, the Higher Education and Education Secretary of the Education and Science Workers’ Union—better known by its abbreviation Eğitim-Sen.