As it is widely known, the institution of Education has, historically, always played a significant role in the formation of societies. Accordingly, governments have always tried to maintain control over education systems; in other words, different governments have sought to establish the institution of education based on their ideological framework, in order to impose their assumed values on the new generation, which paves the way for the reproduction of their whole values and ideology. This process we referred to was defined by French philosopher Louis Althusser as one of the ‘ideological apparatuses’ of the state.
Here, briefly, we compare the Iranian “Cultural Revolution”, which occurred at the same time with the 1979 revolution, with the condition of the current education system in Turkey. Therefore, it is best to discuss two important terms, which will help us understand the matter. The first is “Cultural Revolution”, which occurred in Iran just after the 1979 Revolution, a time when all institutions of education had been closed for two years by Islamist authorities. This sort of change happened in the most radical sense. As we will discuss, there is another type of change existing in Turkey, which consists of our second term, which is “creeping cultural transformation” of the education system.
What happened to the Iranian education system in 1979?
“Ayatollah Khomeini initiated the Cultural Revolution around autumn of 1979. He declared that education system of Iran was culprit of communism and westernized ideologies. Those un-Islamic notions had to be purified from the education system. In the eve of 18th of April, Cultural Revolution had begun after Khomeini’s speech in Friday prayer. Islamist and conservative elements were attacking opponents of Islamic regime. They had two main objectives.
- First was purging universities from groups like Fedayen and Mojahedin.
- Second was re-installing law and order in the country 160.” (Tamer, 2010)
Consequently, as argued above, the governments have always attempted to maintain control over the education system, especially the universities, as much as possible. In the case of Iran, after the Islamic state triumphed over the Pahlavi dynasty, they started to make changes in the most fundamental sense. As mentioned earlier, in the case of Iran we can use the term “radical revolution”.
What is happening to Turkey’s education system
Nowadays, the Turkish education system is facing lots of changes occurring in order for the Islamization of education, but it happens gradually in a way that we can call it “creeping cultural transformation” of the education system. Changes in the Turkish education system started after the AK party came into power in order to Islamize the education system, or, to say it differently, with the aim of purifying the Turkish education system from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s values, which is known as secular foundation of the Republic.
The Turkish government, after the last coup, has started to fire all opposition groups from all institutions of education. Moreover, they have began to make changes in the academic curriculums, such as droping Darwin’s theory of evolution, Marxist theory etc. Therefore, as Kareem Shaheen and Gözde Hatunoğlu have suggested in the Guardian, the AK party tries to raise a devout generation. (Kareem Shaheen, 2017)
Consequently, as we saw in the case of Iran, there was a radical attitude toward reestablishing the institution of education, according to Islamic values, called the “cultural revolution”. As stated above, these sort of changes occurred in the most radical sense in Iran, compared to what is happening currently in Turkey, that we refer to it as the “creeping cultural transformation” of the education system. In the case of Turkey, we are seeing the same changes with the same aims as Iran’s but in a modern, gradual shape. So to speak, a “devout generation” is being constructed in favor of the AK government in Turkey.
- Kareem Shaheen, G. H. (2017). 'They want a devout generation': how education in Turkey is changing. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/20/devout-generation-educatio...
- Tamer, Y. (2010). BASIC CHANGES IN IRANIAN EDUCATION SYSTEM BEFORE AND AFTER ISLAMIC REVOLUTION.
Saeid Mozafari - Expert on Social Class,
Politics, Political Campaigns and Religion