Inclusive Education in Turkey

The current statistical trends and developments within inclusive education in Turkey are not well known. The schooling rate of students with special needs should be improved, as well as the quality and variety of special education services within inclusive education.

The concept of inclusive education is identified by the Ministry of Education (MONE) Special Education Regulations itself. It believes that inclusive education should be provided to every individual—with special education needs (SEN) or none—at pre-school, primary education, secondary education and adult education level.

Early childhood education is for individuals aged between 0-36 months; a mother will be monitored at the start of their pregnancy until her baby will be six years old. If a problem is detected, the child will be directed at once to the associated institutions such as hospitals, guidance and research centers.

On the other hand, pre-school education is for individuals aged between 37-66 months. It could be extended to 78 months depending on the report of the Special Education Assessment Committee and the written consent of the parents.

The goal for these special education services is to enable every Turkish child continue their education in mainstream schools1. They would be assessed and diagnosed by the Board of Special Education Evaluation Committee, and if the individual with SEN is unable to achieve the general goal, he or she would stay in the special need school.

Turkey also enables its citizens who wish to teach special education do so. Some of its universities have departments for teaching on visual impairment, hearing impairment, giftedness, mentally retardation, and a general special needs education. The following components are also included: Fundamentals of inclusive education (definition of inclusive education, key concepts, and the history of the inclusive education movement); Overview of children with SEN; How to create an Individual Education Plan; How to design and adapt activities for children with SEN; and How to assess learning outcomes of children with SEN.

Problems in implementing special education still remain, though. Physical conditions of other schools are not suitable for the disabled individuals. The school staff, pupils and parents have negative attitude towards individuals with SEN. There is no standard school model. There is also no support from the families, and there is no special training support for the teachers implementing inclusive education.

In the study Developing Inclusive Education Policies and Practices in Turkey: A Study of the Roles of UNESCO and Local Educators (November 2010, Arizona State University) by Aysegul Ciyer, the diverse Turkish culture(s) has been acknowledged. “Although Turkey has made considerable strides toward making inclusive education a possibility, there is much work to be done. The many cultural facets of Turkish culture(s) in addition to personal choice among various demographic profiles and how this affects education—aside from inclusion issues, which remains a very contentious topic—have been given very little attention.”

It’s just fortunate that, last July 12, a 19-year-old aspiring musician with autism has been given educational support. Yunus Yazar was unable to talk until he was three years old, but he started writing and reading at age 4. He had Asperger’s syndrome yet he has such an extraordinary musical talent so Turkish actor/comedian Cem Yilmaz would help him through his studies at the Istanbul University.

“Inclusive education is a special education practice based on the principle that the education of individuals with special education needs (SEN) continues their education with their peers without disability in the official and private schools at pre-school, primary education, secondary education and adult education level by providing them educational support services.” ~ Turkish Ministry of Education

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the WISE Channel

1In inclusive classrooms, a maximum of two pupils with SEN may be placed.

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