Turkey has significantly expanded access to education in the last decade, but challenges remain on responding to the increasing demand for teachers and the quality of education. In addition to its large youth population, Turkey is hosting millions of Syrian refugees, which create additional stresses on the education sector. Delivering education through high quality teachers is a key factor in positive learning outcomes. Given this challenging context, there is a need to find creative ways to raise the quality of teaching in Turkey.
A 2014 study commissioned by the Vehbi Koç Foundation and conducted by Education Lab (a joint venture of ATÖLYE Labs and ERI) looked into the socio-economic environment of teachers who live and work in Turkey. The study revealed that teachers feel excluded and insecure in their work environments, and lacking capacity to cope with political, technological and socio-economic challenges. An overwhelming majority feel desperate in an education system that does not offer opportunities for professional growth or good socio-economic prospects. They study in poor education faculties that falls short of equipping them with the right set of skills, creativity and innovative approach they can apply as teachers. They lack sufficient career support to improve themselves. Coupled with a worsening political and security environment, teachers feel disenfranchised in a polarized society where they feel their socio-economic wellbeing is not a priority. Further, teaching as a profession has lost its reputation in Turkey: an overwhelming majority of teachers feels that their role as teachers is not valued and appreciated in the society. In such an environment, they lack confidence to take initiative, be creative, and teach as problem-solvers and thinkers - both of which are key to quality teaching and positive education outcomes.
Project Concept and Objectives
At its core, the project aims at contributing to enhancing the quality of education in Turkey by investing on teachers. Recognizing that quality teaching is the most critical part of the education system, the objective is to create an interactive environment through which teachers can interact with different stakeholders, identify challenges and solutions, and develop ideas that can transform their immediate professional environments. The interactive environment the project envisages (please see attached diagram) will bring together different stakeholders, individuals and institutions alike, that have an interest in addressing the multi-layered problems facing the education sector, and will help extract bottom-up approaches for transformation and change. The project will therefore create a sustainable community of teachers, and help them improve their socio-emotional and professional skills while fostering their creativity and building their resilience. Through this bottom-up approach, the project will help raise the reputation of teaching and inform education policy towards improvement of overall quality of teaching.
The project is demand-driven, and the theory of change as applied to the concept has been developed through a participatory manner involving the teachers from the beginning. The project will be facilitated by the Education Lab. It is supported by Turkey’s leading foundations including the Mother and Child Education Foundation (AÇEV), Aydın Doğan Foundation, Enka Foundation, Mehmet Zorlu Foundation, Sabancı Foundation and Vehbi Koç Foundation. It will also benefit from ERI’s partnerships with international education initiatives. Implementation will start in November 2016 with a pilot phase (17 months). When scaled-up, the project will be a seven-year program with a strategic objective of developing a model that can be replicated in other countries.
Role: Project lead with ERI
Scope: Research, strategy design, system design, community building, graphic design, video documentary
Project Manager: Aylin Durmaz
Project Team (Contributors from Labs network): Kerem Alper (strategist), Behice Ertenü (adviser), Ayşesu Çelik (project asistant), Ceki Hazan (researcher), Murathan Sırakaya (video editor), Selin Akçakaya (designer), Özgür Önurme (video director), Umut Südüak (graphic designer)
Status: continuing, 2014 - current