Turkey lifts headscarf ban in religious schools

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The secularist newspaper Cumhuriyet said the latest reform was a step towards the Islamization of education.

“This will end with chadors,” a headline in the paper said.

The latest reform followed a law approved in March allowing “imam hatip” schools specializing in religious education combined with a modern curriculum to take children from the age of 11 instead of 15.

The Egitim-Sen education sector union was critical of the move on school uniforms and the headscarf.

“The changes in the clothing regulations are important in enabling us to see the intense degree to which the education system is being made religious,” the union said in a statement.

“Religious symbols which spread a religious lifestyle in schools and which will have a negative impact on the psychology of developing children should definitely not be used,” it said.

But others voiced support for the reform.

Gurkan Avcı, head of the Democratic Educators’ Union (DES), said it had removed a legacy of the September 12, 1980 military coup by changing the dress code.

“We will not be able to rescue the education system from the perverse consequences of the oppression, rituals, dogma and thinking of the ‘cold war’ period until teachers and pupils are liberated,” he said.

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