TURKEY : First Kurdish teachers await appointments following graduation

MARDİN – Anadolu Agency – 20.7.2013 – Five hundred graduates from the Kurdish Department of the Living Languages Institute at Mardin’s Artuklu University are awaiting their maiden appointments as Kurdish teachers in what is set to be a first in Turkey. The graduates have expressed hopes that necessary arrangements will be made so that they can fulfill their aim of becoming full-time teachers.

Kurdish became an optional class in secondary schools in September last year. The numbers of classes in which Kurdish will be taught is expected to rise with new students who will start secondary school this year.

One of the graduates, Fatma Çeliktepe, said it would be very difficult to continue providing education in the Kurdish language without teaching personnel. “Kurdish will be an optional class this year in the fifth and sixth grade, and in the seventh and eighth grades in the next years. These classes cannot move forward without teaching personnel. Teachers should [be taken on] according to the demand,” she said, adding that their expectations had yet to be met. Another graduate, Sevim Aydın, said she expressly came to study in Mardin so that she could be appointed as a Kurdish teacher this September. “The authorities should not put obstacles in front of us during our most productive period but give us the opportunity to work by making the necessary legal arrangements. We are counting the days to transmit the intense knowledge and experience that we have accumulated to children who hanker for their mother tongue just like us,” she said.

University to send names of graduates to ministry

The director of the Living Languages Institute, Kadri Yıldırım, said they were going to send the list of their graduates to the Education Ministry.  

“According to the agreement that we have with the Education Ministry, the statistics of the provinces and schools where the optional Kurdish classes were chosen will be prepared. After these statistics are ready, our 500 graduates will be under the order of the Provincial Education Directorates. They will appoint our graduates as Kurdish teachers in the schools to be determined,” Yıldırım said.  

The demand to learn Kurdish at university will decrease if a solution is not found to the legal and constitutional status of the Kurdish people, Yıldırım said, adding that teaching personnel were indispensable to ensure quality in Kurdish-language education. “We are thinking of accepting 250 candidacies in September but according to the status of the graduates, we might increase this number in February next year.”  Mardin Artuklu University’s Living Languages Institute also teaches Syriac and Arabic, both of which are spoken by respective communities who call the fabled southeastern province home.