Preschool Education in the Republic of Turkey

June 17, 2013, 06:00

A group of experts on preschool education from Kyrgyzstan completed a visit to the Republic of Turkey. The visit was organized by the Roza Otunbayeva Initiative with the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic in Istanbul.

In the course of the week, the experts, who represented all the regions of Kyrgyzstan, studied preschool education in Istanbul, including 7 public and private preschools.

In recent years in Turkey, there has been increased attention on the role of government in early development and early childhood education. At each primary school, pedagogical colleges and universities operate a preschool. There, children from age 4 are taught for 5 hours a day (Groups 1-4 from 8am to 1pm, and Groups 5-8 from 2pm to 7pm) without a lunchtime nap. Each week college and university students receive practical training at the preschool (no less than three times a week). If a teacher at the preschool gets low scores on a certification or verification, then he or she returns to training at the same university from which he or she graduated. That way, the same university is responsible for the quality of the students’ learning.

The main goals of preschool education are total, balanced development, development of creativity, and promoting patriotism based on the needs and interests of the child.

Government policies in the area of education focus on increasing the scope of children’s preschool education and mandatory preparation for school. Preschool education at the government kindergartens is paid for from the state budget. Parents only pay for the children’s meals.

The principle of bilingual education is universally implemented. Along with Turkish language, at least one hour per week is taught in English.

Within the state standards and annual work plans, kindergarten teachers are free to apply different methods of teaching and to introduce innovations in teaching. In all subjects, themes are revealed through integrated lessons, i.e. within the same class children learn about mathematics, their native language, protection of the environment, and the arts.

All kindergartens have the right also to provide paid educational services. In many kindergartens in Istanbul, there are theater groups, dance studios, and chess lessons.

One can work as a preschool teacher only with a “Preschool Education Teacher” diploma. To head a preschool, one must have a master’s degree in “Management of Education.”

There are very strong relationships among parents at the preschool. At the beginning of the year, each teacher is required to visit the family of the child, to learn the family’s social and financial situation, to know the unique development of the child and the parents’ wishes. At the beginning of the month, parents receive a detailed lesson plan, including the schedule of excursions, holidays, and festivals that will take place at the preschool. At least once a week, parents conduct class at the kindergarten. At the conclusion of kindergarten, the teachers deliver to each parent and the first grade teachers a profile of each child, in which they describe the skills and knowledge taught to the child in preschool, especially in psycho-physiological development.

Jibek Koichukulova

Executive Director of the Roza Otunbayeva Initiative and participant in the visit to Istanbul, May 27 – June 2, 2013