The prison consists of eight closed blocks and one open block and houses up to 10,000 prisoners. But are the inmates the only people in this isolated place? Not quite. Close to the Silivri Prison courtroom is the Silivri Fatih Primary School. What sets this school apart from other schools is that most of its 320 students are the children of prison guards. The rest are the children of prison wardens
and military personnel. Some students have both parents who work as prison guards.
These students live their lives on the prison grounds. Their school is located there, their homes are located there and their parents’ workplace is located there.
Among the people they encounter on a daily basis are low security inmates. Inmates who are nearing the end of their sentence and have shown good behavior are allowed to work in certain areas around the prison grounds such as the market and the barbershop. This is where the children may occasionally come into direct contact with some prisoners.
The students who go to the school close to Silivri Prison keep close track of current affairs. These children can see in their very own backyard many of the images that everyone else sees on TV. While at first students were easily distracted by the noise and commotion around the prison during hearing days or when there were protests, they have learned to ignore it with the help of their teachers. The occupation that many of the children, who hear prison stories on a daily basis, say they want to pursue involves prisons and prisoners. Around 80 percent of the students at this school say they want to become judges.
Seventh grader Muhammet Aşut has already made up his mind about what he wants to be when he grows up. With his eyes sparkling, he eagerly says he wants to become a judge. His mom and dad are both prison guards. They work in shifts. His mother has been working nights since he was very young. His father takes care of him while his mother is at work. Aşut says he’s used to it now but when he was younger he didn’t like it when his mom left to go to work in the evenings. “The working hours for judges are set. My parents work under difficult circumstances. Plus judges make decisions about cases. They have a say in important issues on behalf of the country. I want to get a good education and be someone who can make fair decisions as well,” he says.
Ümit Can Orhan is another student at the school. Both of his parents are prison guards. After listening to the stories of young inmates of how they ended up in prison and witnessing their life in prison, Orhan’s father works hard to provide his children with a good education. He believes it’s important for parents and teachers to always communicate with each other.
Students grow up listening to prison stories
School Principal Hasan Şen explains that students spend most, if not all of their time on the prison grounds and grow up listening to stories about what goes on in the prison. To prevent children from being negatively affected by the stories of prisoners, the school organizes programs with guidance counselors on a regular basis. Noting that the teachers frequently visit students at home, Şen says: “We speak with parents privately during these visits. We ask that they don’t share stories about the prison with their children so that they are not affected by them. We don’t want them to be fearful and suspicious of everyone.”
Most successful school in district
The Silivri Fatih Primary School is very well equipped, and the average class size is around 20 students. Math teacher Esin Bilge Sadioğlu notes that math classes are supplemented by software from the University of Cambridge, which helps teachers present geometry and math lessons visually and more effectively. The school guidance counselor, Mediha Özkorkmaz, meets with each student privately on a regular basis. This support contributes to the school's success. According to statistics on middle school placement exam results, Silivri Fatih Primary School is the best public school in the district of Silivri. Many of its students have gone on to win scholarships from private schools.