The Ministry of National Education continues to strengthen science and art centers in 81 provinces that provide significant support for gifted students to develop their skills.
The Ministry of National Education attaches great importance to the education of students with special education needs and special talents. These services are coordinated and carried out by the General Directorate of Special Education and Guidance Services. In this context, Science and Art Centers (BİLSEM) provide significant support for specially talented students in 81 provinces to improve their skills. Students at BİLSEMs successfully represent our country in both national and international events. They also provided significant support to the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak. In 2020, BİLSEMs focused on patent, utility model, design and brand production and made significant progress. On the other hand, all BİLSEMs are strengthened by the library and design and skill workshops. Mahmut Özer, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of National Education, evaluated all these developments in an interview he gave to a newspaper.
Special attention is paid to the education of gifted or talented students in all countries. What is the general trend in the world, could you briefly mention?
Education of special talent has been an important issue for a long time. Especially with the spread and massization of education, how to differentiate the education of special talent within the current education system has come to the fore. Especially at the beginning of the 20th century, with the introduction of intelligence tests, the diagnostic processes also entered a different phase and IQ scores began to be used actively in diagnosis. Another important development was the launch of Sputnik into space by the Russians. Since this situation is perceived as a security problem in the USA, the education of the gifted has turned into a national security issue, and many different models have been developed and many different attempts have been made. Some of them were abandoned. Especially recently, the definition of gifted has been expanded and multidimensional methods have begun to be developed for diagnosis instead of only IQ score. Although similar approaches have been tried in continental Europe, we see that it has not gained a very comprehensive place in education systems as in the USA. Although approaches towards the education of gifted differ from country to country in continental Europe, it is seen that they are mostly evaluated together with the discussions on equality in education. Especially in some countries such as Finland, using different approaches in the education system for special talents is associated with elitism and is considered to be against equality. Teachers in Finland also abstain from their counterparts in the United States, highlighting the side effects of labeling such an education as "gifted". Of course, this approach does not mean that education systems neglect gifted students.
If not, what are they doing?
They structure their education systems in a way that allows all students to improve their skills. So the main approach is inclusive and individualized education. In other words, an education system that supports the development of every student. Such an approach naturally also includes gifted students. Of course, the role of the teacher is very important in this system. It is very important for the efficiency of this approach that teachers have the competence to provide this opportunity to students with different ability levels. This new approach is of course a challenge for teachers who have been accustomed to teaching in homogeneous classrooms for years of talent or academic achievement.
What is the situation in Turkey?
Similar steps are being taken in Turkey in the same period. For example, the practice of homogeneous skill groups in education was initiated in 1959. Legal arrangements are made so that individuals with special talents can be sent abroad for education so that they can receive education in academic and artistic fields. Ankara Science High School was established in 1964. Different trials are being made. Some are short-lived. The establishment of fine arts and sports high schools is actually the result of this approach. These activities are followed consistently from past to present within the Ministry of National Education General Directorate of Special Education and Guidance Services. For this purpose, the first Science and Art Center (BİLSEM) was established in 1995 and since then, it continues to provide talent development support outside of school to selected gifted students. The number of BİLSEMs and the number of students benefiting from it is gradually increasing.
How many BILSEM are there? How many students can benefit from these centers?
Currently, there are 81 BİLSEMs in 182 provinces and 63 thousand students benefit from these centers. We are constantly increasing the number of BİLSEMs in order to increase access to BİLSEMs. When we look at the last 10 years, we see a serious increase in both the number of BİLSEM and the number of students. The number of BİLSEMs has increased 10 times and the number of students has increased 3 times in the last 7 years.
61% of teachers are Master's degrees
How many teachers work in BİLSEMs?
182 administrators and 320 thousand 2 teachers work in 223 BİLSEMs. We also support our teachers' postgraduate education. We provide support in this regard by cooperating with universities. Currently, 2 of our 223 thousand 220 teachers are graduate and 129 are graduate. In other words, 61% of BİLSEM teachers are graduate education graduates. When considering our teachers in Turkey is 11%, the ratio of graduates in graduate SACs pretty good condition. Currently, 231 teachers continue their graduate education and 219 teachers continue their doctorate education.
Full support from BİLSEMs to combat the Covid-19 outbreak
In the days of combating the Covid-19 outbreak, vocational training had an incredible performance. BİLSEMs also made an important contribution in this process. Can you talk about these contributions?
In the first days of the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic, we mobilized all BILSEMs in 81 provinces, enabling them to focus on the production of the needed products and provide the necessary support. Since the 3D printer infrastructure in BİLSEMs is very strong, they immediately started the production of face guard visors and produced 350 thousand face protective visors and delivered them to the points of need. On the other hand, they focused on the design and production of the different products needed. And they developed a very large production portfolio. In this context, they produced many products such as thermometer, mask holder, video laryngoscope, intubation cabin and apron, breathing apparatus valve, disinfectant robot, social distance measuring device, mechanical breathing apparatus and contactless examination cabin.
Professional Development Training for All Teachers
What is the situation in teachers' professional development training?
We attach great importance to the professional development training of our teachers. As we do in vocational and technical education, we try to support the professional development training of our teachers by making cooperation protocols with relevant institutions and organizations. While only 2018 teachers were provided with professional development training in 30, we increased this number to 2019 in 170 and 2020 in 615. For example, as a result of our cooperation with our Presidency of Defense Industry within the scope of teachers' training, we have provided our teachers with network management systems training. Similarly, ITU Turkish Music State Conservatory provided extensive educational support to 150 music teachers. We aim to provide professional development training for all our teachers working at BİLSEMs until the end of 2020. The training schedule is progressing as planned.
These are very good developments. Could you talk a little bit about the achievements of BİLSEMs?
Of course. At BİLSEMs, our students have achieved significant success in developing interdisciplinary projects on a national and international scale for years. For example, the newly made TEKNOFEST 2020 SACs Elementary-Secondary Intelligent Transport Category Turkey Championship, School of Social Innovation Category Turkey Championship, Elementary-Secondary School Social Innovation Category Turkey Championship, Disaster Management Category Turkey Championship, Health and First Aid Category Turkey Championship and the Environment energy Technology Category Turkey have obtained the first place. BİLSEMs are also very successful in TÜBİTAK project support. 4004 projects out of 82 projects that were eligible for support in the TÜBİTAK 28 Nature Education and Science Schools Category, 4005 projects from 22 projects that were awarded support in the TÜBİTAK 6 Innovative Education Applications Category and 4007 out of 51 projects that were awarded support in the TÜBİTAK 16 Science Festival Category The project was prepared by BİLSEMs. These are just some of the achievements. As can be seen, BİLSEMs have a very successful performance.
Patent period in BİLSEMs<
You focused on patent, utility model, design and brand production in BİLSEMs? At what stage are these studies?
It is progressing successfully as planned. In this regard, Turkish Patent and Trademark Office has provided very important support. We did the necessary training. We established an Intellectual Property Office under our General Directorate of Special Education and Guidance Services. This office coordinates the work done in BILSEMs in 81 provinces and provides the necessary support. In 2020, BİLSEMs made registration applications for 44 products, including 31 patents, 9 utility models and 84 designs, and 6 products were registered. The evaluation process of other applications continues. The evaluation of applications requires a specific timetable. In addition, the preparation process continues for applications for 307 products. When the processes are completed, I believe we will make significant progress in this regard.
A library of 182 books to 1.000 BİLSEM
In this context, will you have additional support for BİLSEMs?
Of course. By the end of 2020, we are establishing a library of 182 books in all 1.000 BİLSEMs. In addition, we are establishing additional laboratories and design and skill workshops in BİLSEMs. In 2020, we have established 168 new design and skill workshops so far. We will have completed these two support packages by the end of 2020. Thus, in addition to the students selected from BİLSEMs, we will ensure that our other students benefit as much as possible.