School year starts ‘online’ for millions of students in Turkey

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Millions of students are digitally starting the 2020-2021 school year on Aug. 31 across Turkey after a three-month summer break and they will have to wait until Sept. 21 to physically return to their schools due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Education Minister Ziya Selçuk rang the school bell in a symbolic ceremony for the inauguration of the new education year at a Karaçay Primary School in the Turkish capital.

“We will endure distance education until Sept. 18. Works are still continuing as for the process to start on Sept. 21,” Selçuk told reporters.

Turkey has not made its final decision about the return to the schools as there are growing concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Education Ministry has long been working on different scenarios as Selçuk once hinted at the gradual physical opening of the schools.

Turkey has developed a virtual education system through the internet and TV channels and Selçuk said they are exerting great efforts to make it much more efficient. “Our preparations continue as for our children who face difficulty in reaching internet or TV broadcasts,” he stressed.

Citing the pandemic and concerns about the opening of the schools, Selçuk said, “What we always tell ‘We are not going to take risks’. As of now, there is a mutual opinion that not opening the schools is appropriate. That’s why we started with distance education.”

In an interview with the daily Hürriyet over the weekend, Selçuk stressed that the decision of the parents, whether the children should go to the schools, will also be decisive for the government.
“Compulsory schooling is not just an educational problem but also a sociological one. We cannot force the parents by underlining the compulsory nature of education. We are now working on its legal base,” Selçuk said.

“[The pandemic] is not an ordinary thing. It’s a disaster. We have to take into account families with chronic diseases or any other problem that families suffer. Children who are not allowed to go to the schools will receive distance education,” he added.

Hurriyet Daily News

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