The Ministry of Education has mobilized its resources to make 1,000 high schools in Turkey suitable for disabled students before the start of the new school year.
With the new compulsory education law, the duration of compulsory education was increased from an uninterrupted eight years to 12 years, divided into three four-year stages: four years of primary school, four years of middle school and another four years devoted to high school education.
Since high school education has been made compulsory, the Ministry of Education has moved to improve the accessibility of high school buildings for disabled persons, primarily for physically impaired students.
The ministry has launched a project in which it will improve accessibility to 1,000 high schools in Turkey. A large part of the project will be conducted in İstanbul, which has about 45,000 physically handicapped students. Within the scope of the project so far, ramps have been built in 340 high schools in 39 districts of the city to make entrance and exit of high schools easier for physically disabled students using wheelchairs. Toilets and sinks in the bathrooms of those high schools have been renovated for better wheelchair access.
Door handles have been moved to a height accessible for disabled students, and disabled lifts were built in these schools. The renovation in high schools is largely complete, and the ministry plans to finalize it before the schools reopen.
Disabled students wanting to attend these high schools must apply to commissions established for this purpose within provincial or district education directorates. These commissions will direct disabled students to the nearest possible facility. If the number of disabled students is relatively high in a particular school, special education classrooms will be provided for students. If the number of disabled students applying to a high school is low, the disabled students will attend classes in rooms with non-disabled students.
Speaking to Today's Zaman, İstanbul Provincial Education Director Muammer Yıldız said that accessible school buildings would be provided for disabled students not only in high schools but also in primary and middle schools before the start of the new school year.
Free school transport to be provided for mentally impaired students
The Ministry of Education will provide free school transport for mentally impaired students in the 2012-2013 school year. Eligible students will be collected from their homes and taken to school in the morning and conveyed to their homes in the afternoon. However, the same service will not be provided for physically disabled students, who often experience difficulty reaching their schools.
Fatma Özkan, the mother of a physically impaired student, told Today's Zaman that the state should also provide free transport for these students. She added that she wants her son to be able to complete his education.