Turkish university exam guidebook lifts headscarf ban

The first round exam of the new university entrance system will be held on March 27.

Turkish university exam guidebook lifts headscarf ban

World Bulletin / News Desk

The wearing of the headscarf will be permitted during this year's Transition to Higher Education Examination (YGS) as the guidebook posted on the Student Selection and Placement Center's (ÖSYM) website says that “taking the examination with one's hair exposed” is no longer a condition to sit the test.

This change means that students will not be forced to remove their headscarves when applying for and when sitting the test. Previous guidebooks had stipulated that students applying to sit the test were required to supply a photograph with their hair uncovered and that they were unable to take the exam unless they removed their headscarves. In the new guidebook the ÖSYM has removed the obligation to remove the headscarf and now only states that students supply a photograph that clearly shows their face.

The first round exam of the new university entrance system will be held on March 27. According to the application guidebook candidates can submit their applications between Jan. 3 and 19.

The ban against the wearing of headscarves was toughened after the 1997 post-modern coup and has remained a contentious issue in Turkey. The wearing of headscarves was prohibited on university campuses in the late 1990s following a Constitutional Court ruling on the grounds that allowing the headscarf, which was seen as a political and religious symbol, would mean the nation's secular principles would be violated. Due to the ban, thousands of conservative female students were either forced to take off their headscarves when attending university or drop out of higher education altogether.

Candidates were also not allowed to take state exams unless they first removed their headscarves.

The ban was recently relaxed after a move by the Higher Education Board (YÖK) when it sent a circular to universities late last year advising teachers that they could no longer send students out of class for violating the dress code. The circular came in response to a complaint filed by a student at İstanbul University's faculty of medicine. The student, Zeynep Nur İncekara, was sent out of class twice in 2009 by a professor after she insisted on wearing a hat during class.

With the YÖK move, thousands of students who prefer to wear a headscarf have been able to return to university.

Candidates wearing headscarves were recently able to enter exam centers without problems during the Selection Examination for Academic Personnel and Graduate Studies (ALES) and the State Personnel Examination (KPSS) for high school graduates, which were both held in November.

Last Mod: 03 Ocak 2011, 17:13
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