FATİH marks the beginning of a new era of information technology in Turkish education, said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who attended the ceremony. The inauguration ceremony took place on the first day of the second term of the 2011-2012 academic year. The pilot phase of the project -- which many educators praise, saying it will revolutionize the public school system -- was launched with the delivery of tablet PCs and smart boards to 52 schools across Turkey. The inauguration ceremony launching the pilot phase of the project was held at Sabahattin Zaim High School in Ankara. Education Minister Ömer Dinçer and Transport and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım were also in attendance.
Speaking at the inauguration, Erdoğan said, “As Fatih Sultan Mehmet ended the Middle Ages and started a new era with the conquering of İstanbul in 1453, today we ended a dark age in education and started a new era, an era of information technology in Turkish education, with the FATİH project.”
Erdoğan also added that the new era has started not only in education but in all areas that are closely related to the educational system.
Saying Turkey is experiencing a historic day with the launch of the FATİH project, Erdoğan said, “With this project, Turkey is radically changing the face and methods of education; Turkey is moving the requirements and technologies of the modern era into classrooms with this project.”
Concerning the criticisms that say this new project will give teachers no role in the learning process, Erdoğan said the teacher’s role will not be reduced; on the contrary, their responsibilities will increase. “Teachers will play a prominent role in fostering the success of the FATİH project,” Erdoğan noted.
The FATİH Project was implemented on Monday, the day that also marks the beginning of the second term in Turkish primary schools and high schools. Schools reopened on Monday after a 17-day term holiday and welcomed back almost 17 million students. Some students experienced twice as much excitement on their first day back. They saw their friends and teachers after two weeks and were also introduced to their tablet PCs and the interactive smart boards that were delivered as part of the FATİH project.
High schools around the country have been equipped with smart boards, and 12,800 tablet PCs have been distributed in 52 schools in 17 provinces within a pilot program.
The 17 provinces part of the pilot program are: Ankara, Balıkesir, Bingöl, Diyarbakır, Erzincan, Erzurum, Hatay, İstanbul, İzmir, Karaman, Kayseri, Kocaeli, Mersin, Rize, Samsun, Uşak and Yozgat.
The project, which is expected to cost about TL 3 billion and will be paid for through the Transportation Ministry’s Universal Service Budget, represents the largest single allocation of resources to education in the history of modern Turkey. With the project, textbooks will be thoroughly eliminated, as students will access course materials using their tablet PCs.
Undertaken by the Ministry of Education and supported by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the giant project is expected, once finalized, to be in use in 570,000 classrooms in 42,000 schools all around Turkey. According to government plans, teachers will be able to instantly access any document around the world they may need for their class, projecting it on the interactive smart board. The project will also facilitate long-distance learning programs while encouraging a gradual transition to e-textbooks and other electronic-learning materials for each class. In the second component of the project, there will be 110 in-service training centers connected to each other through a network that covers Turkey’s 81 provinces for educator training purposes, where all the participants will able to interact with each other live through teleconferencing. The last component is the establishment of a secure and appropriate network infrastructure for all the schools across the country. FATİH was first introduced at a ceremony attended by Erdoğan in November 2010.