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School CP - April 2008

Corpun file 20160

Turkish Daily News, Istanbul, 21 April 2008

Officials sanction 'harsh discipline' on students

By Kristen Stevens

ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News:
On the heels of EU officials' voicing concerns about children's rights in Turkey, an Education Ministry investigation concluded this week that using corporal punishment on students has an educational purpose in the case of an Istanbul school principal seen spanking students.

Turkey's teachers' unions fear the finding represents a new policy and called it contrary to education and damaging to society. A Parliament commission found that more than one in five students was exposed to this form of punishment in school last year.

Spanking students has an educational use, according to the ministry's investigation report seen by daily Radikal last week. The report said that its decision does not mean it supports violently hurting students, the daily wrote. Hitting students' hands with a drumstick, for example, has an educational use and does not harm students' health, it said. The ministry has denied making such claims in the report, Radikal wrote.

In an interview with the Turkish Daily News, Deniz Yıldırım, the international relations expert for teachers' union Eğitim Sen, said the decision to give educators the authority to hit students is tantamount to ratifying a new policy, especially in the absence of any law protecting students from abuse by educators.

"Studies show that when teachers beat them, young people lose self-confidence and project their anger onto their peers and especially society," Yıldırım said. The real source of violence in the school environment is this official view that reflects beating as a positive thing, said Eğitim Sen President Aladdin Dinçer. "This is a confession."

In Moda Primary School in the Kadiköy district of Istanbul, school principal Hüseyin Ceylan was found to have used corporal punishment on students in 2006, Radikal reported. In the report, the investigator cited the Administrative Supreme Court's 1978 ruling allowing teachers to spank students if it has an educational purpose. However, the report made no mention of a separate 2005 Administrative Supreme Court decision rejecting the decision that using corporal punishment on students is appropriate. The 2005 ruling said it was appropriate to strip the school principal of his administrative duty and transfer him to another school as a teacher. After the recent investigation, Ceylan remained in the school's top position.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) backs another teachers union' (Eğitim Bir Sen) that "puts followers of the party in charge of schools," president of Eğitim Iş teachers' union, Yüksel Adıbelli, claimed. "Obviously the ministry's investigation is biased and ideologically based. The aim is to save the principal of the school." Principals are selected by municipal governments under the jurisdiction of governors appointed by the government.

Rampant punishment

A Parliament research commission called "Rising violence among children and cases of violence in schools" found that during the 2006-2007 school year 22 percent of Turkey's students were exposed to physical violence in school; 53 percent were exposed to verbal abuse; 36.3 percent to emotional abuse; and 5.8 to sexual harassment or violence. The report also presented findings that showed over one-third of kids committing physical violence had been victims of it themselves. The report also found that 11.7 percent of students who committed sexual violence had been sexually assaulted.

In a seminar on children's rights in Ankara last month, Jaap E. Doek, the former chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, said establishing a Children's Ombudsman system, collecting accurate data and harmonizing national laws with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) were essential. "Lots of countries including the Netherlands or Sweden, too, face the problem of corporal punishment and domestic violence against children." But there is no legal measure in Turkey to protect kids in Turkey, he added.

(c) 2005 Dogan Daily News Inc.

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