Republican People’s Party (CHP) Sakarya deputy Engin Özkoç, who delivered a 12-hour speech during a parliamentary sub-commission session discussing a bill seeking to change Turkey’s educational system, said he was feeling just fine in his first interview after delivering the lengthy speech.
His speech, which began at 3:20 p.m. on Monday, was completed at 3:20 a.m. Tuesday. He mainly read out reports on education from various civil society organizations. Most CHP members stayed until the end of his speech in a display of support.
Speaking to an Anatolia news agency reporter who approached him after he got off the podium, Özkoç said in the early morning hours of Tuesday he was not only feeling great but was also proud, as he had acted as the “voice of different segments of society” for 12 hours straight. He said he wasn’t trying to “break a record” or any such thing, but he had major problems with the government’s attempt to hastily pass the bill without any real discussion on it.
He accused the government of attempting to “hide” the bill from society, scientists, sociologists, pedagogues and civil society organizations. “I have kindly asked both the [education] minister and the head of the National Education Commission to allow Turkey to discuss the bill first, before it is taken up in a commission. But they did not take this seriously, so I felt like I had to take a stand. I did my best to be the voice of the people [opposing the bill] for 12 hours.” The government is proposing changes to the duration of compulsory education in Turkey which would allow children to leave the general school system and pursue a vocational education at an earlier age than in the current system.