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12 December 2013 Thursday
ARTS & CULTURE
THINK TANK CAFE
FASHION & BEAUTY
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Helping hands: evening the playing field
11 December 2013, Wednesday / ELSIE ALAN, GEBZE
Dershanes (literally “lesson homes") are so ubiquitous and the existence of the system is so taken for granted that, as a foreigner, unless one pays strict attention to nuance, one may not even realize the extent to which it influences the culture of Turkey. The word dershane is usually translated as prep school, which is not a bad substitute, because the purpose of the institutions is to prepare students for taking scholastic entrance exams at different levels of their education. In addition to the more publicized university exams, many dershanes also offer preparation for tests given to younger students who wish to enter higher-rated vocational high schools (meslek lisesiler), such as those educating future nurses, skilled technicians and business-related trades such as accounting. It is entirely possible for a single student to take advantage of dershane services twice or more in his or her scholastic career. For instance, a child interested in medicine might go to a dershane on weekends to be more competitive in the exams given for placement in a top nursing high school (lise) and then, upon graduation, decide to aim for a degree in medicine to become a doctor, in which case, he or she might attend a dershane again, this time full time for a year or so, to prepare for the entrance exams for a university that would lead to a degree and med school. The test system is national and complicated; schools are ranked at different stages of education and the grades from, say, a mediocre lise will count less toward admission to university than those from a better school, making the exam results that much more important. Many countries have similar systems, but getting a degree in Turkey is relatively much more significant than in more economically developed countries, which, by the way, have higher percentages of kids going to university, anyway.
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