Çubukçu was welcomed with flowers and Turkish flags at the private Fener Greek High School in İstanbul’s Fatih district. Çubukçu was moved when Zapyon Primary School student Marina Sözde, who won a contest for singing the Turkish national anthem, sang the anthem at the end of the ceremony.
Speaking on behalf of the Greek schools across İstanbul, private Zoğrafyon High School principal Yani Demircioğlu said in his opening remarks that Çubukçu’s visit was very important for the future of the Greek schools. “Our wish is that the result of your visit will be valuable in shedding light on history and will be a turning point for Turkey’s Greek schools.” Demircioğlu also mentioned that student numbers were gradually decreasing at Greek schools and asked the minister for help.
While stressing that Turkey attaches importance to Greek students receiving high-quality education, Çubukçu said she believed that they will contribute to Turkey as well-educated individuals in the future.
After the speeches, the students put on a number of performances. Çubukçu visited an Armenian school on Thursday and became the first education minister to have paid a visit to an Armenian school in the history of the Turkish Republic. The minister attended the joint graduation ceremony for private Armenian schools in Turkey.
Speaking after the ceremony, Çubukçu said they have been working on the problems experienced by schools in Turkey’s communities. In response to a reporter’s question over whether or not her visits to community schools could be called a community initiative, Çubukçu said: “Above all, I think we have opened the door to warm and sincere dialogue. … These schools are also Turkey’s schools. Our target is to provide high-quality education for the students who come through these schools. Therefore, I care about this cooperation [between Turkish authorities and the schools]. In fact, we did not think we were doing something special.”