High school students to be allowed to marry

May 02, 2012, Wednesday/ 15:34:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

High school students will be able to get married even though they have not completed their high school education if a new package of regulations prepared by the Ministry of Education comes into force.

The Ministry of Education is working on a new reform package that includes numerous regulations regarding high school education in Turkey. These regulations will bring changes to graduation, assessments, absenteeism and class pass systems in high schools. However, the package also includes social regulations, too.

The package contains a regulation that will enable high school students to marry without completing their educations, which is impossible under existing regulations. According to the current regulations, students who get married while still in school are expelled, but if the package of regulations comes into force, these students will be able to continue their educations. However, the Ministry of Education has not removed from its new package the regulation that stipulates that students who are already married cannot be registered in school.

The Ministry of Education has sent a draft of the regulation package to educational nongovernmental organizations and unions to ask for their opinions.

This regulation has created debates among educators, some of whom believe this regulation will increase the prevalence of early marriage in Turkey.

Turkish Education Personnel Union (Türk Eğitim-Sen) Chairman İsmail Koncuk, who spoke to the Radikal daily, has said this new regulation will trigger early marriages and added that expelling students who get married while still in school is a dissuasive measure against early marriages, so it should not be removed. “Students who want to marry while still in school should participate in distance education as an alternative,” Koncuk noted.

The package also includes some regulations that promote vocational high schools. The Ministry of Education will give vocational high school students the opportunity to take an internship abroad, students will be paid a salary during their internship programs and vocational high schools will be able to give start-up licenses to their graduated students to enable them to open their own businesses after graduation.

The ministry's package also contains regulations that every high school will have its own cook, nutritionist, gardener, nurse and driver. The Ministry of Education is making a cook, nurse and nutritionist compulsory in high schools at the request of the Ministry of Health, which believes that keeping a professional cook and nutritionist on staff will contribute to their efforts to combat diabetes and obesity, which are prevalent in Turkey. The nurses will provide healthcare services to students in the schools' infirmaries.

High schools will have to have alarm and security camera systems to ensure students' safety if the regulations come into force. The Ministry of Education will also request the use of police officers when it is necessary in order to ensure the safety of high schools.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Ömer Dinçer said, during the inauguration of a project on Wednesday, "I sincerely say that I did not know that this preliminary draft text had been sent to educational nongovernmental organizations and unions to ask for their views.”

Dinçer stated that the educators to whom the ministry had sent the draft to ask for their views shared the text of the rough draft with the press instead of sharing their views with the ministry, and that these educators made a mistake in sharing the package of regulations, which is only preliminary.

Dinçer further added that the regulations in the package have not yet been approved, so all of the debates and opposition to them are nonsense. Addressing journalists, Dinçer noted that when the final version of the package has been prepared, he will give out the details and respond to all of the debates on the package himself.

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