When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Turkey

School Reopens In Turkey Amid Protests - Is Education Reform Promoting Islam?

Back to school in Istanbul
Back to school in Istanbul

ISTANBUL - As children in Istanbul packed their bags this week to start a new school year, protests broke out against the controversial “4+4+4” education reform, recently implemented by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Large crowds gathered outside the Istanbul imam hatip religious schools on Fatih Street to protest the new education system that extends mandatory education to 12 years: four years of primary school, four years of middle school, followed by four years of either secondary school or vocational training.

People opposing the reform fear that the new system will increase the number of children attending the imam hatip religious schools, which qualify as vocational training.

Members of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) have also criticized the reform for depriving children of a basic scientific and humanities education. Students will be allowed to drop out of school after eight years, which critics say will only encourage child labor and prevent girls from pursuing higher education.

Protests also broke out in the capital city of Ankara this weekend, and up to 14 people were arrested for holding unpermitted demonstrations for the cause.

Nearly 17 million students and 800,000 teachers began Monday to implement the new education system.

The reforms are the brainchild of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who slammed the previous education system for having “non-democratic” origins. In 1997, after the military overthrew an Islamist government, new secular leaders shut down many of the religious imam hatip schools.

Classes such as “The Koran and the Life of the Prophet Muhammad” have been added to the secondary school curriculum, and female students will be allowed to wear the headscarf during these classes.

“Human rights, citizenship and democracy” and “games and physical activities” have been added as compulsory classes. Texts books have been adapted for the new curriculum and 187 million copies will be delivered to students for free.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest