Turkey's first Kurdish university coming soon

The General Directorate of Foundations has approved the establishment of the Mesopotamia Foundation, which plans to open a university to offer education in the Kurdish language.

Turkey's first Kurdish university coming soon

The General Directorate of Foundations has approved the establishment of the Mesopotamia Foundation (Mezopotamya Vakfı), which plans to open a university to offer education in the Kurdish language.

A decision to approve the establishment of the foundation was published in the Official Gazette earlier this week. Among the founding members of the foundation are Şivan Perver, a Kurdish folk singer who currently lives abroad, and several rights advocates, businessmen and academics. The foundation will be based in Diyarbakır, a mainly Kurdish-populated province in Turkey's Southeast.

According to a report that appeared in the Star daily on Thursday, the foundation has already begun preparations for the opening of a university that will offer courses primarily in Kurdish. The university will be named Amed University, using the Kurdish name for Diyarbakır. The university will also offer courses in Turkish, English, Armenian and Syriac.

Selim Ölçer, the head of the board of trustees of the foundation, said efforts to establish the Mesopotamia Foundation were launched by a group of 15 people about one year ago. “Currently we have over 200 founding members. And the foundation has officially been established,” he stated.

According to Ölçer, the main objective of the foundation is to open a university and other institutions of education in Turkey's Southeast that will offer a multicultural education in multiple languages. According to Ölçer, the university will contribute to the preservation of the Kurdish language.

“We will hold a congress for the Mesopotamia Foundation on June 23. We will ask contributors to donate to the foundation. When the work is complete, we will apply to the Higher Education Board [YÖK] to approve the opening of our university. Once YÖK approves, then the decision [on opening the university] will be sent to the Cabinet for discussion and then to Parliament. After it is ratified in Parliament, our university will officially be established. The university will help enrich Kurdish culture and values,” he added.

The idea to open a Kurdish university was first brought up in October 2011, and the foundation -- though not officially established then -- began holding meetings with businessmen, academics and rights advocates to begin preparations for the creation of the university. Sources say the university is expected to be opened by 2016.

The Mesopotamia Foundation's secretary-general, Ramazan Tunç, said the university will offer prep classes for students who do not know either Kurdish or English. It is not yet clear what other academic departments the university will have. “There is a huge need in Turkey for a university that teaches in Kurdish,” he said, and added that such a university has not been opened so far due to a ban on education in the Kurdish language. The university, if established, will be a private one, not state-run. “The university will have international accreditation. It will not work on a local basis. It will have joint projects and programs with universities in the UK, Norway and Sweden,” Tunç noted.

According to Tunç, the foundation expects the university to draw students from Syria, Iraq and Iran as well as Turkey. “We have great ambition to turn Diyarbakır into a center of education and culture,” he stated.

Currently, there is one university, Dicle University, in Diyarbakır. Efforts are ongoing to open a second one, Selahaddin Eyyubi University. If established, Amed University will be the third in the province.

Cihan

Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Mayıs 2013, 09:40
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