Ataturk attached great importance to education in the establishment and development of the Turkish state. “The most important guide in life is knowledge” is one of his much-quoted sentences. According to internetsailors, Turkish socialization takes place through school. Education is very important to people. Teachers everywhere enjoy respect. “Hocam – my teacher” as a salutation shows the recognition of a society for this profession. The appreciation is not reflected in the – rather poor – salary. Teachers are forced to do other work after school in order to secure a family income.
The importance of education for advancement is also shown by the fact that entire families and their relatives go to great lengths to enable a child to go to university. In the absence of a vocational training system, a university degree is the only way to move up or get a job that is remunerated to keep you going. From an economic point of view, it is tied to its origin and also varies from region to region. While in the west the material equipment of the schools and the supply of teachers are sufficient, in the rather underdeveloped south-east there is a lack of lessons due to a lack of teachers. In an already precarious life situation, the interest in buying books and teaching materials is often owed to existential needs.
In addition, prevailing teaching methods tend to favor memorization and critical thinking is not anchored in the curriculum. According to the PISA study, educational policy reforms are: an increase in funds, reform of teacher training, strengthening of the vocational training sector and practical integration with the economy. Quantitative results are already visible: e.g. increase in pre-school attendance.
The school system was changed in 2012. After 4 years of elementary school, 4 years of middle school follow. Then the upper level can be attended in another 4 years. The change to general or vocational schools takes place after primary school. Religious Imam Hatip schools are part of the vocational institutions as well as technical or economically oriented schools. The Turkish Business Association welcomes the reform to meet the growing need for future skilled workers. The supporters of the AKP or religiously oriented parents will also benefit from the change, because the Islamic content and religious professional orientation can take place from grade 4. Secular circles consider the reform to be a “hidden” measure to fundamentalize society.
An entrance examination decides whether to switch to a secondary school. Depending on the result, the student can continue studying at a very or less recognized school. The high schools with increased foreign language teaching, the so-called Anadolu Liseleri, are popular. The actual lessons are preceded by a year of foreign language lessons. In Istanbul, the schools abroad in the various countries are also very attractive: Alman Lisesi, Robert Koleji, Galatasaray Lisesi, Avusturya Lisesi and the Istanbul Lisesi.
The graduation certificate allows participation in the nationwide university entrance examination. Only those who have prepared for at least two years outside of the actual school lessons and who have attended weekend or evening courses for a fee in “Dershanes – learning institutes” can only pass. The examination decides on the subject and place of study. Those who have learned well can study medicine or engineering at a renowned university in the west. Those who pass the exam with a low score start studying in the East.
In total there are 101 state, 70 private and 4 universities of the Turkish Armed Forces. In 2013, 4.9 million young people were studying, and another 80,000 are doctoral students. 5.2 million are expected by 2025. International university partnerships are increasing, with Germany there are various project partnerships on different topics. The training market is also facing internationalization.
Many scientists are concerned about restrictions and censorship as a result of the Gezi protests in 2013 and in the wake of the attempted coup in 2017.
The systems in place are insufficient to ensure adequate medical care for all citizens. A reform of health insurance is currently being struggled with, i.e. the introduction of general health insurance on a contributory basis. This seems at least challenging given the large number of workers employed in the shadow economy.
The state health system consists of hospitals (providers: SSK, Ministry of Health, universities), polyclinics, health stations (variant 1: with nursing staff, variant 2: with doctor), resident doctors and other outpatient facilities.
Treatment is free for the insured. However, material and human resources are often inadequate, so that more than adequate basic care is not possible. Even in hospitals, patients are dependent on care from relatives. Drug shortages are not uncommon. There is one doctor for every 1100 residents, which is far below the OECD average (350 residents per doctor).
People who are not socially insured are not entitled to benefits. For them and children under the age of 18 there is the green card (yesil kart), with which medical help can be sought by the poorest.
There is also a private medical care system that meets high international standards. The crisis medicine is at a good level. The AIDS rate in the country is rising although rather small.