The Turkish National Educational System is composed of two main sections:
• Formal Education
• Non-formal Education in accordance with Basic Law No. 1739 for National Education.
Formal Education means the school system and comprises the institutions of preschool education, primary education, secondary education and higher education. Non- formal education includes all the activities organized outside or alongside the formal school system.
Pre-school education, which is optional, aims at contributing to the physical, mental and emotional development of the children, to help them acquire good habits, and to prepare them for primary education. Pre-school education is given in kindergartens, daycare homes, nursery classes in primary schools and preparatory classes by various ministries and institutions, and by the Ministry of National Education.
Primary education provides children with basic knowledge and ensures their physical, mental and moral development in accordance with national objectives. It generally comprises of the education of children in the 6-14 year age group. Eight years of primary education is compulsory for all Turkish citizens who have reached the age of six. This level of education is free of charge in public schools. There are also private schools under state control.
Foreign language lessons and elective second foreign language lessons begin at the 4th year of primary education.
Secondary education is classified in two categories of educational institutions, namely general high schools and vocational and technical high schools (lycées) where a minimum of three years of schooling is implemented after primary education.
General high schools are educational institutions that prepare students for institutions of higher learning. They implement a three-year program over and above primary education, and comprises students in the 15-17 year age group.
Vocational and technical high schools provide specialized instruction with the aim of training skilled personnel. The organization and periods of instruction of these schools are different. Some are four-year programs in where the age of schooling is 15-18.
The objective of secondary education is to provide the students with a common general culture at a minimum level and to prepare them to be ready for taking responsibility for the democratic society, to make them respectful of human rights and to prepare them for higher education or business life in the direction of their interests, abilities and capabilities.
Some of the secondary schools and the private secondary schools, have foreign language preparatory classes, in conformity with the targets of the educational programs, education in a foreign language is provided in science group and mathematics.
In Turkey, higher education includes all educational institutions after secondary school. Higher education provides at least two years of school and educates students for associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree levels. Institutions of higher education consist of universities, faculties, institutes, schools of higher education, conservatories, vocational schools of higher education and application-research centers.
Competing on a global level, in terms of both quality and quantity, has been adopted as a primary goal for Turkish education.
The university is the principal higher education institution. It possesses academic autonomy and a public legal personality. It is responsible for carrying out high level educational activities, scientific research and publications. Each university consists of faculties and four-year schools, offering bachelor’s level programs and two-year vocational schools offering pre-bachelor’s (associate’s) level programs of a strictly vocational nature. Graduate-level programs consist of master’s and doctoral programs, coordinated by institutes for graduate studies. Master’s programs are specified as “with thesis” or “without thesis” programs. “With thesis” master’s programs consist of a specified course completion followed by a submission of a thesis whereas “without thesis” programs consist of completion of graduate courses and a term project. The duration of these programs is two years at least. Access to doctoral programs requires a master’s degree. Doctoral programs have a duration of minimum four years which consists of completion of courses, passing doctoral qualifying examination, and preparing and defending a doctoral thesis. Medical specialty training programs equivalents to doctoral level programs are, however, carried out within the faculties of medicine and the training hospitals owned by the Ministry of Health and the State Social Insurance Organization.
Universities, faculties, institutes and four-year schools are founded by law, while two-year vocational schools, departments, and divisions are established by the Council of Higher Education. Universities are free to determine the number of students to be admitted to graduate-level programs, as well as admission requirements, and the curricula and degree requirements of such programs, in line with the general rules and regulations adopted by the Interuniversity Council.
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