Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Military Hypocrisy in Mothertongue Education Debate

Military Hypocrisy in Mothertongue Education Debate
General Basbug opposes education in their mothertongue for "some ethnic groups", but many military and other schools encourage education in a foreign language medium.
Bıa news centre
Gökce Gündüc
General Ilker Basbug, commander of the Turkish Ground Forces, has said: "It is one matter to accept and respect the wish of some ethnic groups to learn their own languages in addition to Turkish; accepting education and teaching in these languages is a different matter altogether."
Speaking at the opening of the academic year for military schools, Basbug has thus added his voice to the debate on a civil constitution.
Military schools: Foreign languages a priority
His comments strike one as hypocritical if one examines the website of the Turkish Armed Forces, which describes the military highschool syllabus:
"Military Highschools comprise four years, including a year of [language] preparatory classes and the education is mostly in a foreign language."
For instance, pupils in the first year of Maltepe Military Highschool have 14 hours of English a week. This drops to nine hours a week in second and third grade, and seven hours in twelfth grade. In the same school, Turkish Literature and Language classes are taught five hours a week in the first three grades and is incrased by one hour in the last grade.
According to the Turkish Armed Forces website, the aim of the education at military schools is "to educate officer candidates who can adapt to the social, cultural, technological and academic conditions of the Science Age, who have a developed awareness of the law, who respect human rights and freedoms, who know at least one, but preferably two foreign languages, and who have been educated in different branches of engineering."
Civilian schools: 4-8 hours a week
Civilian schools also aim at at least four hours of foreign language education a week. In so-called Anatolian highschools, pupils have eight hours a week in the first two grades.
Foreign language medium teaching in private universities
Many private universities and some courses at state universities are also taught in foreign languages, forcing many students to take at least a year of language preparatory classes. It is thus hypocritical that "some ethnic groups" are not allowed to learn or teach their languages at schools.
While religious minorities have their own schools, in which the children can learn Greek, Hebrew, Armenian, etc., the teaching of Kurdish was finally allowed at private language courses, but with many hurdles put in the way of anyone opening a course.
Mothertongue: "A basic building block of identity"
In a book entitled "Language Rights during the EU Process", published by the Helsinki Citzen's Charter, Pulat Tacar defines mothertongue as "the first language an individual learns in his/her family or social environment. The mothertongue reaches the subconscious, counts as a basic building block of identity and is one of the most powerful connections between individual and society."
Tacar also differentiates between assimilation and integration, saying: "The priority for pre-modern countries is to form and protect a state. The leaders of these countries believe that if they do not strenghten the central state, the country will fall apart. This is why they interpret ethnic, linguistic and religious variety or differences as a threat to the country's unity and integrity. Assimilation tries to dissolve cultural variety through direct or indirect pressure."
Integration, on the other hand, is defined as "creating a social unit with another group, coming together in order to gain a super-identity". (GG/NZ/AG)


Post a Comment

<< Home