Education minister says reopening schools is key to normalization
The imminent COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Turkey points the way to resuming in-person learning in schools, the Turkish education minister said on Wednesday.
“It will pave the way for us to conduct face-to-face education,” Ziya Selcuk told Anadolu Agency’s Editor’s Desk.
He said talks with the Health Ministry are ongoing for the vaccination of teachers following high-risk groups, including the elderly and healthcare professionals.
Turkey early Wednesday received the first 3 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine ordered from China’s SinoVac Biotech.
Announcing the vaccine’s arrival on Twitter, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said vaccination will start following 14 days of tests.
Selcuk said that since this March, when the novel coronavirus was first detected in Turkey, education has been ongoing under the pandemic’s shadow.
On the decision of some countries to reopen their schools earlier, Selcuk said Turkey decided against this in light of the country’s social structure and habits.
Tops in remote learning
He said Turkey is one of the three or four countries in the world that provides the most remote lessons, using three TV channels devoted to various educational stages.
He also said Turkey ranks the first with its education portal, the Education Information Network (EBA),with the highest number of students and teachers visiting it.
“When we look back, I can say that we’re satisfied with most of the work,” he said on the education system measures taken amid COVID-19.
“Being able to do this under such circumstances showed great efforts by the country, as parents, teachers, and school administrators,” he said, adding that finding weak points and addressing them was “the right way to do it.”
He noted after remote education had an initial capacity of 100,000, now the number exceeds 3 million.
Selcuk said in a society, there can be no normalization without reopening schools. “For normalization to occur, we first need to take care of schools so that social mobility can be put in order.”
After partially reopening schools in late September, Turkey resumed its distance learning education system as of Nov. 20 until Jan. 4, 2021.
Remote learning will continue through national broadcaster TRT’s Education Information Network (EBA) channels and live courses, while all teachers can carry out live lessons through the EBA.