School Boycotts & Alternative Schools Offer New Option For Kurds In Turkey


The Rojava Report 12-9-2014 (ANF) – The boycott of Turkish state schools and the opening of independent Kurdish schools are providing a new alternative for Kurds in Turkey, says Koç University Faculty member M. Şerif Derince in a new report from DİHA that was carried by Yeni Özgür Politika.

Derince was speaking following an attempt yesterday by the Turkish army to close a new cooperatively run Kurdish school in the district of Lice in Diyarbakir province. Turkish soldiers were ultimately forced to withdraw after coming up against local resistance. However tensions remain high in the region. Kurdish instruction remains banned in Turkey where a state project to assimilate Kurds has been ongoing for decades. Despite limited reforms over the past ten years millions of Kurds and other minorities continue to be denied the right to mother-tongue education in Turkey. According to Derince this situation has lead to significant disadvantages for Kurdish children in Turkish schools and larger structural inequalities within Turkish society.

Derince argued that the lack of access to mother-tongue education raises “pedagogical, psychological, social and political” issues, as children deprived of such access are less able to communicate with their teachers or understand what they were saying. Moreover Kurdish children become more likely to leave school early than their Turkish peers, while those who remain become more likely to develop a disposition toward rejecting their own culture and identity. Derince explained that “while all these problems intersect in diverse ways education has not helped the children in question to develop but has rather weakened and impoverished them.” Derince went on to emphasize that in order for Kurdish to receive constitutional guarantees the struggle must proceed along certain steps, arguing that “the progress that has has been made with the grown of private Kurdish courses needs to pass onto the next phase.”

Derince: There Needs To Be Alternative Education

Derince assessed the calls made for school boycotts by the KCK, noting that these boycotts achieved important gains and exceeded expectations, saying “alternatives must be developed to fill the place of the schools which are being boycotted. Otherwise they will be forced to resume school the following week. There is not sufficient motivation to boycott a school when they are not going to develop another alternative in its place. The work around alternative mother-tongue education has given new meaning to the call to boycott schools and has taken the struggle in this area to a new stage. After this it will depend on how productive alternative mother-tongue education will be. Will the opening of mother-tongue schools the school boycott will transform from being simply a school boycott to the celebration of the foundation of a new alternative. Perhaps next year in the place of a call for a boycott there will be a mother-tongue education festival in its place and in this way both the participation as well as the enthusiasm and impact will be much greater.”

Demir: Demands Should Be Put Foward In Common

Netice Altun Demir, a PhD candidate in the department of linguistics at Ankara University, stressed that the Turkish educational system was confronting many problems because of its failure to offer mother-tongue education. Demir said that “it is entirely proper for Kurds to take action against this through their own alternatives. If a true peace is desired Kurds need to act together. They need to put their demands forward in a common fashion. If children do not receive education in their own languages then they both lose those languages as well as the respect they hold for themselves and others.”