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Istanbul's first private Kurdish course opens

ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News, 05/10/2004

A Kurdish language course was opened in Istanbul following Urfa, Batman, Adana, Van and Diyarbakir. The goal is to give high-quality education in the Private Kurdish Language Education Center in which 180 people were enrolled.

Turkey's sixth, Istanbul's first Kurdish course was opened in Aksaray. The Istanbul Private Kurdish Language Education Center, which was opened a few days ago, began a 3-month education term. After the opening ceremony intellectuals and artists were introduced to the center. Cezmi Ersoz, Sanar Yurdatapan, Abdurrahman Dilipak, and Ragip Zarakolu said, "Your problem is my problem" in Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Syrian languages.

The Istanbul Private Kurdish Language Education Center Director Mevlut Cetinkaya said that it was an important step towards the European Union (EU) adaptation laws to allow Kurdish education. Stating that Turkey had a multi-language and ethnic structure, Cetinkaya asked, "How many of us know the languages spoken in this country?"

Education in the Istanbul Private Kurdish Language Education Center will start on October 4 with an achievement test. Cetinkaya said that they aimed to provide a high-level of education in the center equipped with modern education materials, and added, "We have different programs for people, whose native language is Turkish and don't speak Kurdish; whose native language is Kurdish but cannot speak or write in Kurdish; and who want to use the Kurdish language academically."

Mevlut Cankaya said that they applied for the course in 2003 and their application took one year. Stating that 180 people were enrolled in the course with a capacity for 600. Cetinkaya said that one of the instructors Mulazim Ozcan studied Kurdology at Uppsala University in Sweden. Cetinkaya, who stressed the importance of opening Kurdish course for different cultures in Turkey to know each other and for the development of democracy, the books of the course titled Kurdiya Hesa (Easy Kurdish) and Bav Bi Gav Kurdi (Kurdish Step by Step) were prepared by the course instructors.

Kurdish for everyone

Mevlut Cetinkaya stated that nearly 50 million people speak Kurdish in the world but the Kurdish language was not studied in schools in the east and southeast regions, that's why children worried because they could not speak their own language. He wants everybody to know that Kurdish is not forbidden and "education in the native language" must be accepted as a human right as in many countries.

Mevlut Cankaya explained the reason for interest in the Istanbul Private Kurdish Language Education Center: "Actually, people show great interest in Kurdish courses. They have some concerns. But education in Kurdish is an acquired right and this right should be protected. Today we have an opportunity to learn our own language. We tried to reach different circles in the opening but we faced some handicaps. We learned that many people did not come to the opening ceremony because of police barriers."

Cetinkaya added that Kirmanci and Zaza broadcast on TRT 3 channel did not reflect currently spoken Kurdish and they worried about the state's approach to different languages.

The courses will be in three levels (primary, intermediate and advanced) in the center on weekdays and weekends. Stating that books would be given to participants for free, Cetinkaya said: "We will adjust course times according to working hours of our participants. We will provide education with the opportunities that many schools have not. We will take the advantage of technology like computers and television. An increase in the number of participants depends on our efforts."

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