While debate continues about controversial new national education reforms, hundreds of children in the southeast province of Hakkari have been locked out of their schools due to a major teacher shortage, the Dogan News Agency (DHA) reported.
The 2012-2013 Turkish academic year kicked off on Sep. 17 with the implementation of the new 4+4+4 education reform that has brought the age of mandatory education up to 12.
But in the local Hakkari villages there was a more basic problem: when students arrived for their first day of school last week, they couldn’t get into the buildings. Only the central Hakkari schools were in operation.
With no indication of when the village schools will be staffed, the children have been going to school everyday to try their luck. Most of them stay until the end of the day playing in the playground unsupervised, DHA reports.
The government’s new education reform touts a new mandatory system, where parents will be fined should they fail to send their children to school. Children can only opt out of school after the first eight years in favor of home study.
Critics of the new system say that the new curriculum, which introduces religious vocational classes after the first four years of education, could encourage child labor and keep girls out of schools.
In Hakkari, many of the children and parents aren’t even aware of the details of the new reform. They are simply desperate for schools to be reopened without further delay.