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Kurdish education finds support in NGO's study

ISTANBUL - HDN, 16/02/2011

A Turkish foundation has called for Article 42 of the Constitution to be changed in order to allow education in mother tongue, saying the article has “turned into a barrier” to educational rights.

The report by the History Foundation also included a recommendation to introduce an elective class on Kurdish language and literature into the high school curriculum.

“Article 42 of the Constitution ... must be changed in a way so that it provides the right to receive education in mother tongue to all Turkish citizens,” the foundation said in its “Recommendations Report,” which it prepared within the framework of a project on “The role of education as a consensus tool in communities with social and political conflicts.”

The article reads: “No language other than Turkish shall be taught as a mother tongue to Turkish citizens at any institutions of training or education.”

Though changing the Constitution is not technically required to solve the ongoing debate over mother-tongue education, the article is often used as an excuse for not taking steps forward on the issue, said Gürel Tüzün, a member of the foundation and the coordinator of the project, explaining why the recommendation was made.

“Actually, the issue can be solved even [with other tools], bringing no changes to the Constitution,” Tüzün said. “[But the article] has turned into a barrier and is shown as justification by many institutions.”

Within the framework of the same project, the History Foundation has also prepared a book on Kurdish language and literature that it launched in December 2010.

“We published the book on certain websites, and got reactions saying, ‘Such a language and literature does not exist,’” Tüzün said, adding that one of the main reasons for introducing the book was to increase awareness of the existence of the Kurdish language and literature. “We have already got some positive results in this respect.”

Other recommendations included in the report are changing the curricula of classes that include discriminatory remarks against different ethnic groups living in Turkey, the amendment of related national legislation, the training of teachers on these issues, the inclusion of the Kurdish language as an elective course parallel to other foreign languages already taught in schools and the inclusion of a class on fundamental human rights.

“A nationalism and national pride index developed by a group of researchers two months ago has shown Turkish people differ very slightly in terms of national pride feelings, regardless of their age, gender or ideological beliefs,” said Bekir Ağıdır, one of the experts that helped prepare the report, adding that Turks were taught such feelings from a very early age. “These are just wrong orientations by politicians, and I think [the source of this situation] is politicians’ lack of knowledge, decisiveness and courage.”



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