Turkey’s education row deepens as thousands placed in religious schools ‘against their will’

Turkey’s secondary education examination row has deepened, amid reports that thousands of students, including some non-Muslims, have been placed in Islamic vocational schools for the upcoming school year.

After the results for the national primary to secondary education (TEOG) examination were announced earlier this month, there were a number of reports that around 40,000 students had been placed in religious “imam-hatip” schools against the will of their families.

Education Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Muhterem Kurt confirmed that a total of 9,802 students had been placed in schools far away from the districts where they live, but stressed that there was “no need to panic.” Kurt told daily Milliyet that there would be an opportunity for re-allocation in mid-September.

According to the new system, students failing to get into their top-preferred school as a result of the exam are placed in schools nearest to their area. However, many claim that too many regular schools have been turned into imam-hatip schools in recent years, making it difficult for some children to avoid a religion-focused education even if they do not want it…