Turkey’s faculties have begun the brand new educational yr with a controversial curriculum that leaves out the idea of evolution and brings within the idea of jihad.
For Turkey’s Islamist-rooted authorities, the concept is for a brand new “schooling of values”.
Critics have denounced new textbooks as “sexist” and “anti-scientific”, and complain of a significant blow to secular schooling.
“By embedding a jihadist schooling of values, they attempt to plague the brains of our little youngsters, with the identical understanding that transforms the Center East right into a massacre,” mentioned Bulent Tezcan of the secular, opposition CHP celebration.
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However the authorities has accused the opposition of making black propaganda and making an attempt to polarise Turkey forward of elections in 2019.
“After we say values, they perceive one thing else. We’re pleased with our conservative-democrat stand, however we do not need everybody to be like us,” says Schooling Minister Ismet Yilmaz.
Textbooks explaining the concept of jihad are being rolled out in Turkey’s non secular vocational faculties, identified broadly as Imam-Hatip excessive faculties. They may then be supplied to youngsters in secondary faculties as optionally available programs in a yr’s time.
One ebook titled Lifetime of Muhammad the Prophet has been singled out for criticism, each for alleged sexism and its clarification of jihad.
Jihad is outlined as “non secular struggle” by the dictionary of the Institute of Turkish Language. However schooling ministry officers say the idea of jihad has been exploited by jihadist teams akin to so-called Islamic State (IS).
The schooling minister says the idea must be launched as a part of Islam within the context of “loving a nation”.
“Jihad is a component in our faith. Our responsibility is to show each idea deservedly and proper issues which can be wrongly perceived,” he says.
The identical controversial textbook defines ladies’s “obedience” to males as a type of “worship”. However authorities officers say that’s comprehensible because the ebook is about Islam and quotes Koranic verses.
“Allah says it, not me. Ought to I appropriate him, or what?” mentioned Alpaslan Durmus, who chairs the Board of Schooling.
However two massive protests went forward on the weekend, with hashtags akin to #NoToSexistCurriculum, #SayNoToNonScientificCurriculum and #DefendSecularEducation trending on social media in Turkey.
One union chief known as for protesters to “say No to an outdated curriculum that bans science within the 21st Century”.
Opponents have accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Improvement Celebration (AKP) of changing the secular foundations of the Turkish republic with Islamic and conservative values.
The president’s personal remarks on elevating a “pious technology” have additionally prompted alarm.
The schooling ministry additionally argues that critics are “completely ignorant” for claiming that evolution has been fully excluded from the curriculum.
Topics akin to mutation, modification and adaptation are defined in biology textbooks, with out citing evolution itself. This idea is “above college students’ stage” and must be taught in universities, says the minister.
This can solely confuse college students, says Aysel Madra from Turkey’s Schooling Reform Initiative, who finds it odd to posit that youngsters can perceive jihad however not evolution.
Lecturers’ unions are additionally divided over the jihad debate.
Turkey’s Egitim Sen union sees an “ideological and deliberate” step by the federal government, whereas a extra conservative rival union accuses critics of utilizing anti-Islamic arguments.
“In line with the Turkish Language Institute, jihad’s major that means is ‘non secular struggle’,” says Egitim Sen chief Feray Aydogan. “What’s the level of explaining second and third meanings?”