No consensus yet on education in mother tongue

All parties in agreement that everyone should be free to learn their mother tongue and Turkey's official language should remain Turkish; however, they have differing views concerning the right to education in one's mother tongue.

No consensus yet on education in mother tongue

Members of the four political parties in the parliamentary Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, which is working to draft a new and more democratic constitution for the country, have failed to reach a consensus on the contentious issue of the right to education in one's mother tongue.

Members from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in the constitutional commission are all in agreement that everyone should be free to learn their mother tongue and Turkey's official language should remain Turkish; however, they have differing views concerning the right to education in one's mother tongue.

While the CHP and MHP are against such a move, the BDP wants this right to be guaranteed in the constitution. The AK Party's stance is in between the two as the party supports not having any articles in the constitution that will ban education in one's mother tongue and has suggested making the necessary arrangements for this in law. Since the commission members have not reached an agreement on the issue, it is expected that the party leaders will have the final say about the right to education in mother tongue.

In remarks to Today's Zaman, AK Party deputy chairman and member of the constitutional commission, Mehmet Ali Şahin, said due to the opposing views of the political party representatives in the commission, the commission has not reached a consensus on the issue.

“It is actually very saddening for the new constitution to hit a deadlock over such an issue because the debates block the commission's work and prevents it from covering distance,” he said, adding that his party thinks contentious issues could be resolved via laws.

Although Parliament is in recess, the Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, which has been tasked with drafting the text of the new constitution, is working during the summer break. Representatives of the four parties have failed to agree on a new version of the current Constitution's Article 42 on the Right to Education and Learning.

CHP Konya deputy and a member of the constitutional commission, Atilla Kart, explained his party's stance as follows: “As the CHP, we support having Turkish as the language of education for all the citizens of the Turkish Republic. We also support the elimination of all the obstacles facing students whose mother tongue is not Turkish and the state taking effective measures to this effect.”

Turkey's Kurds have long demanded education in the Kurdish language at schools. Kurdish, as a language class, is available in the Turkish school system, but Kurdish as the education language for other subjects is a controversial issue.

The BDP wants the following sentence to be added into the text: “It is one of the state's duties to ensure that every citizen is given quality education in his/her mother tongue.”

Speaking to Today's Zaman, BDP İstanbul deputy and a member of the constitutional commission Sırrı Süreyya Önder said efforts to find a solution to the issue of the education in mother tongue will likely influence the fate of the settlement process, which aims to resolve Turkey's terrorism problem.

“This is Turkey; we have circumstances peculiar to ourselves. We have to protect the ground for peace which we have achieved with difficulty,” Önder said.

Another BDP deputy, İdris Baluken, accused the parties which oppose to the right to education in one's mother tongue of ignoring the universal principals in the relevant UN conventions Turkey has signed.

“They see this as a threat against Turkish identity and Turkish. Our friends are working on various formulas to overcome this. They are seeking to guarantee education in one's mother tongue in the constitution in addition to the teaching of Turkish,” he said.

MHP deputy Faruk Bal, another member of the commission, said it is unacceptable for his party to agree to the demands for the right to receive education in one's mother tongue, while another MHP deputy, Oktay Öztürk, said it is not possible for his party to reach an agreement with other parties on the issue.

Cihan

Last Mod: 19 Eylül 2013, 09:47
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