Haydi Kızlar Okula! The Girls’ Education Campaign 2001–2005

Note: Pages in this section have been stored solely for archiving purposes. Information contained here refers to the 2001–2005 CPAP. Follow this link for current details about UNICEF programmes in Turkey.

Haydi Kızlar Okula! logo

Using a very simple logo and slogan helped to get the attention of the target audience and the public in general.


Roughly one million girls of primary school age are not going to school in Turkey. The gender gap in primary education enrolment is 7% -- about 600,000 more girls than boys. More than 50% of girls between 6 and 14 are out-of-school in some provinces.

Haydi Kızlar Okula! -- the girls’ education campaign in Turkey -- addresses the complex range of economic and social factors that contribute to the non-attendance of girls at school. The campaign was launched by Carol Bellamy and Dr. Hüseyin Çelik, the Minister of National Education, in the eastern province of Van in June 2003.

The goal of Haydi Kızlar Okula! is to close the gender-gap in primary school enrolment by the end of 2005 through the provision of a quality basic education for all girls in 53 provinces with the lowest enrolment rates.

The main barriers to Girls’ Education

  • Shortage of schools and classrooms;
  • Schools are often situated far from home and many parents do not want their children, especially girls, to travel far;
  • Parents do not want to send children to schools that are in a poor physical state with no toilets or running water;
  • Many families suffer economic hardship;
  • The traditional gender bias of families favours the needs of men and boys over those of women and girls;
  • The need to augment domestic income by keeping children at home to work;
  • Many parents consider the early marriage of their girls to be more important than their education;
  • Female role models in rural communities are scarce -- or entirely absent;
  • Opportunities for secondary education are rare, discouraging interest at primary level.

The First Step

During its first year, the campaign focused on the 10 southeastern provinces with the lowest enrolment rates for girls. Another 23 provinces were added in 2004.

  • A gender review analysing the general state of education in Turkey was completed in Spring 2003.
  • The Ministry of National Education (MONE) and UNICEF signed a protocol agreeing to work together to achieve gender parity in enrolment by 2005.
  • A stakeholders meeting was held in June 2003 to define clear goals and objectives.
  • MONE established a Campaign Coordination Office.
  • Provincial committees were established in the 33 project provinces.

The UNICEF Representative and officials from MONE visited all project provinces in 2003 to review progress and promote the campaign in the field.

Three UNICEF field coordinators were hired to assist implementation of the campaign.

Results generally exceeded expectations when 40,000 extra girls enrolled for primary education in the first months of the campaign.

Inter-sectoral cooperation

Vitally important inter-sectoral collaboration was evidenced by the formation of a Central Steering Committee consisting of Deputy Undersecretaries of MONE, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Social Services and Child Protection Agency (SHÇEK), the Ministry of Religious Affairs and UNICEF.

The United Nations Country Team agreed that girl’s education would be the UN Gender Theme Group’s (UNGEI) priority in Turkey.

Advocacy and promotional materials such as training manuals, a visual presentation for trainers, posters, brochures, pins, FAQ booklets and videos were developed.

Print and electronic media were enlisted in support of Haydi Kızlar Okula! at both national and local levels, providing invaluable access to the public in order to raise awareness.

Television broadcast spots with celebrities and well-known public figures were produced.

The Minister of Education, the Head of Religious Affairs and the Prime Minister himself took part in these short films -- a demonstration of commitment to the campaign objectives at the highest level.

The last twenty-eight provinces in the Haydi Kızlar Okula! campaign A further twenty provinces in the Haydi Kızlar Okula! campaign The next twenty--three provinces in the Haydi Kızlar Okula! campaign The first ten provinces in the Haydi Kızlar Okula! campaign Map of Turkey © UNICEF Turkey 2004

Haydi Kızlar Okula! focused on the first ten provinces during 2003, adding another 23 provinces in 2004, a further twenty provinces in 2005 and covering the entire country with the addition of the last twenty-eight provinces in 2006

Strategies and Approaches in 2004

The goal for 2004 is to get 300,000 extra girls enrolled in primary school. UNICEF and officials from MONE will continue to monitor progress of the campaign in the field. The provision of school and classroom space will be a major challenge to all concerned.

Special attention will be paid to the provinces with the highest number of girls who are out of school. Accordingly, the priorities for enrolment are İstanbul (75,000), Diyarbakır (45,000), Şanlıurfa (40,000) and Van (40,000).

Having pledged her support to the campaign, Mrs Emine Erdoğan, the Prime Minister’s wife, launched the second phase in April.

  • The Ministry of Education provided free text books to all students in 2003 and again for the 2004-2005 school year.
  • The Minister of the Interior requested the special support of provincial and district governors for the campaign.
  • Training of volunteers, teachers, and frontline workers was provided in the provinces and an intensive door-to-door campaign was launched prior to the new school year.
  • In June, governors and provincial education directors from the 33 project provinces signed a declaration of support in Ankara for Haydi Kızlar Okula! pledging they would do all in their power to ensure the success of the campaign.
  • The Prime Minister, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, stressed the importance of the campaign in a number of public speeches.
  • The Prime Minister and his wife will visit Şanlıurfa with the Minister of National Education on the opening day of the new school year, reinforcing their commitment to girls’ education.
  • MONE has offered a 100% tax credit to private and corporate donors who invest in education.
  • The Social Solidarity Fund (SYDTF) is providing a Conditional Cash Transfer for poor families who send their children to school with an extra 20% incentive for girls.
  • Say Yes, UNICEF Turkey’s quarterly newsletter in English and Turkish, features regular updates and background to the Haydi Kızlar Okula! campaign -- two issues have been devoted almost exclusively to the subject.
  • Creative approaches include mobilisation of children at the local level to identify peers who are not going to school.
  • Campaign volunteers have been provided with free public transport in order to help social mobilisation activities.


Funding support is vitally important to the campaign given that the reluctance of many families to educate their girls is derived from economic hardship -- the need to upgrade existing facilities or provide them from scratch is also a burden on local government. Direct financial aid or ‘in kind’ contributions from the private sector so far includes:

  • Coca-Cola provided free publicity and US$250,000;
  • İbrahim Etem Ulagay Pharmaceuticals printed and distributed training and communication materials to the approximate value of US$100,000;
  • Prof. Dr. İhsan Doğramacı made a personal contribution of US$125,000;
  • Nationwide television channel, ATV, contributed free television spots and a prime time series on children’s issues.;

UNICEF has provided an additional total of US$420,000 in funding support and will continue to seek financial support from the private sector. Gama Industries have already committed a further US$300,000 which will be used to re-locate pre-fabricated houses as temporary schools.

The Next Step

  • Social mobilisation will continue with local teachers, school counsellors, midwives, nurses, civil servants, imams, muhtars (community leaders) and volunteers helping identify girls who are out of school and to intercede with their parents.
  • Families will be notified of financial assistance available from the Social Solidarity Fund in the form of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) and NGOs, volunteers, government officials and supporters of the campaign will help families to fill the CCT forms.
  • UNICEF is encouraging the re-use of prefabricated temporary housing from earthquake areas as a short-term solution to the lack of classroom space.
  • To increase public awareness, radio plays and short films of campaign success stories will be broadcast.
  • Media representatives will be invited on field trips and updated information will be provided on a regular basis to raise public awareness.
  • A telethon to raise funds will be conducted on major television channels.

Download the latest project update in pdf format. [PDF 401KB]

A Gender Review in Education, Turkey 2003 is an analysis of the various factors that affect girls’ education in this country. ‘Claiming the Future’ -- an interview with Dr Nur Otaran, the coordinator of the document, is featured in the Summer 2003 issue of ‘Say Yes’, the quarterly newsletter of UNICEF Turkey.

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2003-2004: the first ten Haydi Kızlar Okula! provinces
The campaign was launched in Ağrı, Batman, Bitlis, Diyarbakır, Hakkari, Muş, Sırnak, Siirt, Şanlıurfa and Van -- the provinces, which at that time, had the lowest enrolment rates for girls in primary education.
2004-2005: the next twenty-three Haydi Kızlar Okula! provinces
In 2004, the Haydi Kızlar Okula! campaign was expanded to include the provinces of Adana, Adıyaman, Ankara, Ardahan, Aydın, Bingöl, Edirne, Elazığ, Erzincan, Erzurum, Gaziantep, Iğdır, İstanbul, İzmir, Kahrahmanmaraş, Kars, Kilis, Manisa, Mardin, Mersin (İçel), Niğde, Osmaniye and Tokat -- to cover a total of thirty-three provinces.
2005: a further twenty Haydi Kızlar Okula! provinces
In 2005, the Haydi Kızlar Okula! campaign will expand to include the provinces of Afyon, Antalya, Balıkesir, Bursa, Çanakkale, Çorum, Denizli, Eskişehir, Hatay, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Konya, Malatya, Muğla, Ordu, Sakarya, Samsun, Sivas, Tekirdağ and Trabzon. With a total of fifty-three provinces covered, it is expected that the gender-gap in primary education will have been closed by the end of the year.
2006: the last twenty-eight Haydi Kızlar Okula! provinces
In 2006, the Haydi Kızlar Okula! campaign will become fully nationwide by expanding to include the provinces of Aksaray, Amasya, Artvin, Bartin, Bayburt, Bilecik, Bolu, Burdur, Çankırı, Düzce, Giresun, Gümüşhane, Isparta, Karabük, Karaman, Kastamonu, Kırklareli, Kırşehir, Kütahya, Nevşehir, Rize, Sinop, Tunceli, Uşak, Yalova, Yozgat and Zonguldak.