The parents of students from five primary schools gathered before the Istanbul Governor's Office to protest the conversion of their children's schools into theological Imam Hatip schools in compliance with the government's new education reform bill.
The parents of students enrolled in the Öğretmen Zekeriya Güçer Elementary School in the district of Kartal, the Nihat Sami Banarlı Elementary School and the 60th Meyveli Bahçe Elementary School in Ümraniye, the Orhangazi Elementary School in Maltepe and the Üçüncü Selim Elementary School in Üsküdar issued a press release to express their concerns.
"The AKP (Justice and Development Party) is turning education into reactionism on one hand and collecting money from the [parents] on the other," the protesters said, adding they had already collected signatures from 2,500 parents for a petition.
The Aksaray, Kadıköy and Kartal district branches of the Education and Science Workers' Union (Eğitim-Sen,) the Şişli and Kartal district branches of the main opposition People's Republican Party (CHP,) the CHP's Women's Branches Center for the Support of Community Center Education and the Elmalıkent Beautification, Conservation and Solidarity Association (EKEDER) also lent their support to the protesters.
"Our sole point in common is that we are parents who [assume responsibility] for their schools," they said.
"We want modern and not dual education," the demonstrators also chanted during the press release.
"Three schools crammed into one"
"The 23 Nisan Kaptanoğlu Elementary School is using our [building] as a guest school in the afternoon. Three separate schools will be merged in our [building] if our school is transformed. We want singular education back because the parents of most students are working. We are going to keep up with the acts of protest we started today to [re-claim] our school until [officials] abandon this policy," Mercan Döner, the parent of a student at the Nihat Sami Banarlı Elementary School, told bianet.
"No need for Imam Hatip Middle Schools in our neighborhood"
İdil Yücesoy, another parent of a student from the Öğretmen Zekeriya Güçer Elementary School, also expressed her dissatisfaction with authorities' failure to consult them when making decisions pertaining to the school and their children:
"We disapprove of this fait accompli decision that [authorities] made without consulting any of the parents or teachers, or taking into consideration any of the [problems] to be incurred upon us after [the decision] goes into effect. They have not provided any explanations as to where the children of three neighborhoods are to go once our school is turned into an Imam Hatip Middle School. We can say with absolute [confidence] that our neighborhood does not need any Imam Hatip Middle Schools, and neither neighborhood residents nor the parents have advanced any such requests," she said.
"There are currently 890 students enrolled in our school. We organized a petition. 878 parents signed it to state their objection to the conversion of our school into an Imam Hatip. It will also increase the financial burden on the parents for the elementary and the middle school to be at different locations," said Hamza Yusufoğlu, the parent of a student from the 60. Yıl Meyveli Bahçe Elementary School. (EZA/HK)