After the Hrant Dink assassination, there’s been a nationalist backlash in Turkey, the white hat worn by the assassin of the Turkish Armenian editor has become in vogue among youngsters, and even the Economist is pointing out the escalation.
A recent Reuters article (that surfaced in the Kuwait Times & The Brunei Times–but no major Western newspaper I could find) points out that the country’s schools could be at fault:
“Happy is he who says he is a Turk,” pipe hundreds of uniformed children in unison, lined up in the playground before a golden statue of Turkey’s revered father Ataturk, for a daily pledge of hard work and sacrifice.
Textbooks are peppered with the sayings of Kemal Ataturk, who founded modern Turkey in 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. “Homeland we are all a sacrifice for you!” comes particularly recommended by one textbook’s authors. These are just some of the features of Turkey’s education system that reformist teachers and activists want changed. They say it encourages blind nationalism-something Turkey is looking at more seriously since the ultranationalist-inspired murder in January of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
…while foreign historians say Ottoman forces massacred Armenians in 1915, high school history books here say it was the other way around. “It must not be forgotten that in eastern Anatolia the Armenians carried out genocide,” one 2005-dated book reads. In its latest progress report the EU also criticised the portrayal of minorities such as Armenians, saying further work was needed to remove discriminatory language from textbooks.
And some info about the dire future Turkey may face if it doesn’t remedy its educational system:
Nationalism is not the only problem with schools in Turkey, which, hemmed in by the budget restraints of an International Monetary Fund accord, spends little on education. With a population of 74 million, Turkey already struggles to find jobs for its ever-growing army of young people. But in terms of spending per head as a proportion of the economy, Turkey spends least among OECD countries.
Turkey is also around the bottom of the OECD league in terms of years spent at school, the proportion of the population with tertiary education and the maths ability of 15-year-olds. Teachers are low-paid and spend the first years of their career in a state-assigned posting.
The original article (here).