In an interview with Milliyet newspaper about the Teaching Profession Law, Minister of National Education Mahmut Özer stated that for the first time in the history of education in Turkey, teachers had an independent professional law and said, “Our country is among the countries that define teaching as a career path within the framework of a professional law. Taken together, this is truly a turning point.” said.
Here is the full interview:
The proposal for the Teaching Profession Law was accepted in the Turkish Grand National Assembly. An issue that has been discussed for years has been enacted for the first time. Can we get your feelings and thoughts?
MINISTER OZER: The longing for a law specific to teachers goes back a long way in Turkey. Since the 1960s, this longing has always been expressed both in the National Education Councils and in other platforms. In the decisions taken at the 7th National Education Council, which we held between 1-3 December 2021, after 20 years, special emphasis was placed on the teaching profession law and it was included in the decisions taken. Therefore, the fact that the 'Teaching Profession Law' was prepared and approved for the first time in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey is a very important turning point in our education history. With this law, our teachers gained an independent professional law for the first time in the history of education in Turkey. I am really happy to be a part of this process.
You said it was a turning point in the history of education. Why a turning point?
MINISTER OZER: As I often say, an education system is only as strong as its teacher. Currently, we have nearly 1 million 200 thousand teachers in our education system. We have a fairly large family of teachers. Professional and personal development of our teachers should be supported continuously. With this law, a law that took its name from the teaching profession was prepared for the first time. First of all, this is directly related to the value given to the teacher. With the law, the professional development, knowledge and experience of our teachers and their graduate education are rewarded through a career system developed. A system including candidacy, teaching, expert teaching and head teacher is being built. In addition, the indicators of teachers with first degree are increased from 3000 to 3600. It includes additional improvements regarding contract teachers. In short, with this law, our country is among the countries that define teaching as a career path within the framework of a professional law. Taken together, this is truly a turning point.
Teaching is now defined as a career profession in the Law. This issue has been widely discussed in public. You stated that there was a decision for this in the last meeting you held, what kind of decision was made?
MINISTER OZER: As you know, one of the three main issues discussed in detail at the 20th National Education Council, which we held with the wide participation of our education stakeholders from all parts of our society, was supporting the professional development of our teachers. In the council, the decision to enact the teaching profession law was taken unanimously, and the decision directly referred to the career profession. Article 123 of the council, which was accepted unanimously, states, “Teaching should be regulated as a career profession. In advances in the career process, significant and significant increases should be made in the personal rights of teachers.” shaped. Therefore, it is the direct equivalent of the decisions regarding the career profession, which are envisaged in the current law, taken unanimously at the council and on which everyone agrees. As a result, the career steps in the Law refer to the processes on which education stakeholders have discussed and unanimously agreed.
What kind of improvements does expert teaching and head teaching bring to our teachers' personal rights?
MINISTER OZER: Our teachers who have completed 10 years in the profession will participate in 180 hours of professional development training to be given by our Ministry, and when they are successful in the exam as a result of these trainings, they will have the title of "expert teacher". Along with the title of specialist teacher, our teachers will receive an additional degree. In addition, there will be an increase of 60% (about 1.310 TL as of today) in education and training compensation. Currently, the number of potential teachers who will apply for specialist teaching is approximately 500 thousand. Therefore, nearly five hundred thousand of our teachers will have the rights provided by the title of expert teacher if they successfully complete their training and exams.
On the other hand, our teachers who have completed 10 years in specialist teaching will have the title of "head teacher" when they are successful in the exam at the end of the 240 hours of professional development training to be given by our Ministry. With the title of head teacher, our teachers will receive an additional degree. In addition, there will be a 120% increase in education and training compensation (approximately 2.620 TL as of today).
One of the topics discussed about career processes is expert teaching and exams for the transition to head teacher. Wouldn't it be okay if the exams weren't held?
MINISTER OZER: As you know, 180 hours of training for specialist teaching and 240 hours for head teacher training will be organized. In order to evaluate the training, you need to make a measurement and evaluation at the end of the training. For this purpose, an exam will be held. Therefore, the exams will be directly related to the education received. Therefore, there is nothing to be alarmed about. Moreover, our teachers with a master's degree will be exempt from the exam for specialist teaching. Our teachers who have a doctorate will also be exempt from the exam for head teacher.
The law actually encourages teachers to do postgraduate education.
MINISTER OZER: Absolutely… This will be an important contribution to the process. The fact that our teachers complete their postgraduate education is very important both for their personal development and positively reflects on the quality of the education they will provide. For this reason, the proportion of teachers with postgraduate education in OECD countries is quite high. These rates are extremely low. For example, our rate of teachers with a master's degree is approximately 12 percent. It is well below the OECD average. Our rate of teachers with a doctorate is only 0,23%. An extremely low rate. Therefore, with this Law, our teachers are encouraged to graduate education.
Will there be a field limitation in graduate education?
MINISTER OZER: No, there will be no restrictions in this regard. We do not have a narrow-scoped approach to disciplines in the graduate education of our teachers. On the contrary, we care much more for them to carry out interdisciplinary graduate studies in terms of 21st century skills. So we've taken a more flexible approach here. Our teacher, who wants to, can do postgraduate education in the field he wants, on a subject he is curious about. When they successfully complete their graduate education, they also use their right to be exempted from the specialist and head teacher exams.
The law was discussed a lot both before it came to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and during the parliamentary discussions. Looking back, how do you evaluate these discussions?
MINISTER OZER: For the first time, a Teaching Profession Law came to the fore in a serious way. Still, expectations are high. Approaches and views on the subject may differ. Therefore, I find it very natural and valuable to have discussions. Of course, it is very important to have constructive criticism here, because constructive criticism is a forum for discussion and has the potential to lead to improvements. All discussions aside, the important thing is that we now have a Teaching Profession Law in Turkey. I would like to express my gratitude to our President, who leads us in every step we take towards our teachers, for his support throughout this process. I would like to express my gratitude to the Speaker of the Parliament for his support. I would like to thank all our stakeholders who supported the process with their constructive criticisms, everyone who contributed to the formation and preparation of such an idea from the past to the present, the valuable bureaucrats of our Ministry, our other Ministries and related institutions that supported the process, my colleagues, and all our deputies in the Parliament who supported them. . I wish our Teaching Profession Law to be beneficial to all our teachers and education community in advance.