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More Turkish children get new school buildings thanks to UNICEF campaign

© UNICEF Turkey / 2009 / Oktay Üstün
At the opening ceremony in Kahramanmaraş, Turkey.

Kahramanmaraş, Turkey - February 18, 2009

Children in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş have become the latest to benefit from a UNICEF-backed campaign to raise funds for school buildings in Turkey.

“The joy in the gleaming eyes of the pupils tells the whole story,” said.Mehmet Niyazi Tanılır, the governor of the province, speaking at the opening ceremony for the newly-constructed Genç Osman Primary Education School. The twelve-classroom school was built with contributions from several donors as part of the “We are adding schools!” campaign organised by UNICEF and the UNICEF Turkey National Committee in conjunction with the Ministries of National Education and the Interior. 

UNICEF-Turkey Goodwill Ambassador Tayfun Talipoğlu, a popular television presenter, commended the campaign for enabling charitable people to contribute to the drive for education. “Adding schools is something which all those who are concerned about the future desire,” he went on.

A Girls’ Education campaign supported by UNICEF has brought Turkey close to achieving 100% net enrolment in eight-year primary education, and has reduced the disparity between the enrolment of boys and girls. At the same time, however, it has added to the pressure on the existing stock of school buildings in fast-growing provinces and cities.

“A great distance has been covered under the campaign on Girls’ Education, while the campaign ‘We are adding schools’ has mobilized charitable citizens and organized their support for the building of new schools,” declared Governor Tanılır, acknowledging UNICEF’s contribution. The governor also encouraged any illiterate women in the audience to attended the literacy courses being offered in schools under the slogan “Mother and daughter together in school”.

Opening ceremonies can be emotional affairs. Among the speakers in Kahramanmaras was Amine Nur Bilimer, a private donor who recently lost her son, whom she decribed an enthusiastic supporter of Girls’ Education. Having lost her own child, Bilimer said, she had now gained many more. She went on to read a poem which her son had written while at primary school.
Another poem, entitled “Our School”, was read by Gizem Nur Sevda, a girl in class 4/a. Donor Erkan Makasçı said that while he took part in sports and had an active social life, nowhere else had he felt the same excitement as at the opening of this new school.

After the speeches, plaques bearing the names of contributors were affixed to on the school wall. The ceremony was attended by a large number of national and local government officials and representatives of UNICEF and the UNICEF National Committee. All were welcomed at the gates of the new building by a colourful folk dance troupe made up of pupils of the school. Also present for the occasion were Alanor Olalı,  Executive Director of the Turkish National Committee for UNICEF, local officials Deputy Governor Volkan Barış Göçmez; Kahramanmaraş Education Director Sebahattin Akgül; Sabri Başköy from the Provincial Administrations Directorate General of the Ministry of the Interior; Cengiz Cuhadar, Branch Head in the MoNE Directorate General of Primary Education; UNICEF Turkey Communications Assistant Şehnaz Tanılkan; Ziya Kır from the Provincial Administrations Directorate General of the Ministry of Interior, and donors Erkan Makascı and Amine Nur Bilimer.



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