The Rise and Fall of Citizenship and Human Rights Education in Turkey

  • Abdulkerim Sen PhD Candidate, Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment Department, University College London-Institute of Education, London, United Kingdom
  • Hugh Starkey Professor of Citizenship and Human Rights Education, Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment Department, University College London-Institute of Education, London, United Kingdom

Abstract

Purpose: This article shows the effects of competing political forces on citizenship education in Turkey during the period of commitment to European Union (EU) accession (1999-2005).

Methodology: It draws on textbooks, archival documents and interviews. Whilst Turkey had a history of civic education to promote a secular national ethos and identity, the post-Cold War democratisation movement encouraged the Turkish government in 1995 to attempt to internationalise civics by adding human rights themes.

Findings: This effort occurred at a time when the hegemony of the secular nationalist establishment was challenged by the electoral rise of an Islamist party. Although Citizenship and Human Rights course suited the purposes of the secular nationalist establishment, after the EU recognised Turkey as a candidate in 1999, a new political Islamist government, elected in 2002, chose first to align the course with its ideology and later decided to repeal it. By exploring the evolution of the curriculum in a crucial period in which political power was switching from the ideology of secular nationalism to that of religious (Islamist) nationalism, the present study illustrates ways in which external and internal influences may affect citizenship education. In particular, it contributes to debates over the role of international agencies in curriculum change in citizenship education.   

Author Biographies

Abdulkerim Sen, PhD Candidate, Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment Department, University College London-Institute of Education, London, United Kingdom
Abdulkerim Sen is a PhD candidate at the department of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment at UCL Institute of Education, London, UK. He holds a Master’s Degree in the field of social studies education from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA. After graduation from university, he taught citizenship, modern Turkish history and social studies courses at state schools from 2006 to 2010 in Istanbul, Turkey. His PhD research investigates the evolution of citizenship education in Turkey in relation to political change in the years from 1995 to 2012.
Hugh Starkey, Professor of Citizenship and Human Rights Education, Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment Department, University College London-Institute of Education, London, United Kingdom

Hugh Starkey is Professor of Citizenship and Human Rights Education at UCL Institute of Education, London. His research focuses on education for democratic citizenship, human rights and social justice in a globalising world. He is founding co-director of the International Centre for Education for Democratic Citizenship and editor of the London Review of Education. He has led European-funded projects on citizenship and human rights education and has acted as a consultant for several governments and the Council of Europe, UNESCO, European Commission and the British Council. His 2005 book co-authored with Audrey Osler Changing Citizenship: democracy and inclusion in education is widely cited and has been published in Chinese and Japanese editions.

Published
2018-01-09