Erdoğan announced the introduction of elective Kurdish language classes at his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) group meeting on Tuesday. During his speech, Erdoğan confirmed earlier remarks by deputy Beşir Atalay, who said a new education package the government is working on includes teaching students' mother tongues in public schools. Erdoğan said the Kurdish courses will be available if the demand meets the minimum student quota.
Erdoğan said "this is a historic step." The move is the latest gesture by the government to grant more cultural rights to Kurds in an effort at reconciliation.
The government recently introduced changes to the education system that divides the total educational period into three consecutive stages of four years, often referred to as the “4+4+4” system. Sources say Kurdish courses will be available at the secondary level for three or four periods a week. Since there are currently no Kurdish language or literature specialists in the teaching field, the classes will be taught by “master teachers” who are fluent in the language.
During his speech, Erdoğan also commented on a recent initiative by the main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) to find a solution to the Kurdish issue through a consensus among all political parties. He also said he welcomes the CHP's efforts, although they are “belated,” and criticized the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) for failing to lend support to the CHP's initiative. He added that his party may help the CHP in convincing the MHP to join the talks.