2012-12-21

Schools bring Turkey and the Balkans together

As Turkey opens schools in the Balkans, regional officials hail education's role in promoting good relations.

By Drazen Remikovic for SES Türkiye in Istanbul -- 21/12/12

* denotes required field.

  • Button
Print
Reset
Decrease
Increase

Ankara's expanding network of schools in the Balkans is deepening centuries-old ties between Turkey and its southeast European neighbours.

  • The Turkish-funded school in Bornja Banica, Macedonia is the largest Turkish school in the Balkans. [Turkish Co-operation and Co-ordination Agency]

    The Turkish-funded school in Bornja Banica, Macedonia is the largest Turkish school in the Balkans. [Turkish Co-operation and Co-ordination Agency]

Turkey sees the schools, which have been built by the official Turkish Co-operation and Co-ordination Agency (TIKA) as NGOs and a tool to promote understanding and friendship between young people. Balkan officials have hailed them for the same reason, as well as for expanding the range of educational opportunities available to locals.

The biggest Turkish school in the Balkans was opened recently in Gornja Banjica village in Macedonia's Gostivar municipality. The school, which was built jointly by TIKA, the Union of Turkish World Municipalities and Gostivar municipality, will serve 1,400 students of Turkish, Albanian, and Macedonian descent, according to TIKA.

Gostivar Mayor Rufi Osmani told SES Türkiye the school will help cement positive relations among Macedonia's ethnic communities and with Turkey.

"We must build tolerance and good relations between all nationalities, and [this school] represents a symbol of co-existence and tolerance in Macedonia," he said. "This school is a great investment. For the time I've been mayor, Gostivar has paid special attention to relations with Turkey's municipalities."

Turkey's network of schools in the Balkans has strong roots and continues to grow. Bosna Sema, a Turkish educational organisation, has opened 14 schools in four cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 1996. The group's schools offer education at all levels, from primary school to university.

"We are very satisfied with the dynamics of education and achieved results, and we intend to make it stay that way in the future," Mubera Saracevic, secretary general of Bosna Sema schools, told SES Türkiye. "When we started with this story in 1996, we had only two classes of pupils. Today, we have over 3,500 pupils and students in our educational institutions, and over 500 employees. We intend to continue to expand our schools and build new ones."

Tina Hadzibegovic, 23, is studying informatics at Sarajevo College, which is run by Bosna Sema. Like many officials, she's pleased with the level of service offered by Turkish schools.

"I'm very satisfied with the educational programme and, some young people from the place where I was born already asked me how they can start studying at this college," she told SES Türkiye.

In Romania, Turkish schools have also helped strengthen bilateral relations. There are currently 10 Turkish private primary and secondary schools in various Romanian cities, including Bucharest, Constanta, Timisoara, Iasi and Cluj-Napoca. There's also a Turkish university, the Lumina University of South-East Europe, which was established in 2010.

"Co-operation in the fields of culture and education is one of the most important aspects of deep-rooted and excellent bilateral relations between Turkey and Romania," the Turkish Embassy in Bucharest said in a statement for SES Türkiye.

The first Turkish-Romanian public school, Megidia Kemal Ataturk National College, was founded in 1995. It provides mother language education to the members of the Turkish and Tatar minority living in the Dobrugea region, operating on the basis of an intergovernmental protocol between Turkey and Romania. The college also provides the Romanian students with the opportunity to learn the Turkish language and culture, the embassy added.

"We see education as a fundamental tool in furthering the understanding and friendship between the young generations in our two countries. Turkish schools in Romania play an important role in this regard," the embassy said in its statement.

Serbia's most significant education project with Turkish partners is the ongoing construction of a primary school in Novi Pazar, which will have capacity for some 1,000 pupils.

Faruk Suljevic, a foreign affairs advisor at Novi Pazar municipality, told SES Türkiye the project would help address gaps in local educational services.

"In this part of the city, we did have a big need for primary school since children had to pass several kilometers from their homes to school in the city centre," he said.

Suljevic added that the 1.7 million euro project, which is being completed with TIKIA's support, is set to be completed in March.

During a visit to Podgorica earlier this year, Mustafa Aydin, president of Istanbul's Aydin University, told reporters he was considering opening a world-class university in Montenegro.

"We're interested in opening a university in Podgorica in which personnel from the whole region would be educated according to modern scientific teaching methods," he told reporters.

TIKA didn't reply to SES Türkiye's repeated requests for comment.

Correspondents Ivana Jovanovic in Belgrade, Paul Ciocoiu in Bucharest and Menekse Tokyay in Istanbul contributed to this report.

Print
Reset
Decrease
Increase

Do you like this article?

4

4

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest published articles in your inbox.

We welcome your comments on SES Türkiye's articles

It is our hope that you will use this forum to interact with other readers across Southeast Europe. In order to keep this experience interesting, we ask you to follow the rules outlined in the comments policy. By submitting comments, you are consenting to these rules. While SES Türkiye encourages discussion on all subjects, including sensitive ones, the comments posted are solely the views of those submitting them. SES Türkiye does not necessarily endorse or agree with the ideas, views, or opinions voiced in these comments. SES Türkiye welcomes constructive discussion but discourages the use of copy-pasted materials, unaccompanied links and one-line slogans. This is a moderated forum. Comments deemed abusive, offensive, or those containing profanity may not be published.
SES Türkiye's Comments Policy
  • Anonymous over 1 year

    I wonder who will benefit from opening schools in the Balkans at a time when the schools in our country are being divided with walls of shame. I wish they first regulated our own education model.

  • Anonymous over 1 year

    It’s plain stupid.

  • Anonymous over 1 year

    Such a thing can not happen.

  • Anonymous over 1 year

    Not good at all.

  • Anonymous over 1 year

    Very bad.

  • Anonymous over 1 year

    Will schools be on holiday on December 31st afternoon?

  • Anonymous over 1 year

    Is there school today in Kütahya?

  • Anonymous over 1 year

    Is there school tomorrow in Malatya?

  • Anonymous over 1 year

    There appeared something different from what I’ve said.

  • Anonymous over 1 year

    Is there school tomorrow?

Name: Anonymous - Have your comments posted immediately!


Formatting Help Button