Strengthening pre-school education in Eastern Turkey
DIYARBAKIR/MARDIN, Turkey, 30 March 2011 - A committee of officials from UNICEF and the MoNE General Directorate of Preschool Education visited pre-school education institutions in Diyarbakir and Mardin on 30 March and 1 April 2011 as part of the project "Strengthening Pre-school Education".
Director-General of MoNE DG Preschool Education, Funda Kocabıyık, UNICEF Turkey Representative Ayman Abulaban, UNICEF Turkey Deputy Representative Regina De Dominicis and other committee members reviewed developments related to preschool education in the province with the governor and top-level bureaucrats, and discussed the steps that need to be taken to ensure access and attendance to quality pre-school education services.
Director General of Preschool Education, Funda Kocabıyık, said preschool education is a national priority and a rapid increase has been achieved in Turkey’s schooling rates in pre-school education in the recent years, and added that they will be continuing to work in line with development plans to maintain this momentum in coming years. “We are ready to cooperate and collaborate in order to increase access and attendance to quality preschool education, especially in provinces receiving a large influx of immigration,” said Kocabıyık.
UNICEF Representative Dr. Ayman Abulaban said that all projects carried out by UNICEF in Turkey are also being implemented in Diyarbakir, a province where 44% of the population is under 18. He also congratulated the local government officials for the success they have achieved especially in the area of education. “In both provinces, our priority is preschool education now, and we are very pleased to be working with you in this area; great gains have been achieved in terms of “behaviour change,” which is the most challenging part of the job. Now, a lot of families are ready to send their children to preschool, and as UNICEF, we reiterate our promise to support education.”
Strengthening Pre-school Education
Pre-school education is the educational process that supports physical, mental, emotional and social development of children in the 0-5 age group, orients them towards cultural values of the society and prepares them for primary education within the integrity of basic education.
In Turkey, only 50% of children under 5 participate in pre-school education; this ratio is considerably lower than the European average in younger age groups.
The project “Strengthening Pre-school Education” is carried out by the Ministry of National Education with the technical support of UNICEF and financial contributions of the European Union. The project aims to increase enrolment and atttendance to institutions providing pre-school education and day care services to children living under disadvantaged conditions, and help families eager to have their children benefit from these services. The project is being implemented in 10 priority provinces (Adana, Agri, Ankara, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Hatay, Izmir, Mersin, Sanliurfa, Van) with awareness-raising activities undertaken nationwide with the participation of public, private and civil sectors as well as the media.
Community-Based Preschool Education Institutions
One of the main components of the Strengthening Pre-school Education project is the development of “community-based service models.” The concept of “community-based” is virtually new in the area of early childhood education in Turkey, and except for the activities undertaken in this field by a number of non-governmental organizations, community-based practices by other institutions are not known to the public even if they may exist.
In this scope, the committee also visited the preschool education institutions run by the Mother Child Education Foundation (ACEV) in Diyarbakir and the Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work (KEDV) in Mardin.
Both institutions aim to empower women living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods through various trainings, and strive to offer early childhood development and preschool education services for children in the 0-6 age range.