Zekeriya Yapıcıoğlu, chairman of the radical Islamist Free Cause Party (HÜDA-PAR), has urged the Turkish government to abolish mixed-sex education, the Birgün daily reported.
HÜDA-PAR is the political arm of Kurdish Hizbullah and an ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). It is among other AKP allies, such as the Islamist New Welfare Party (YRP), which have been pushing for a gender-segregated education system.
Yapıcıoğlu said at a party meeting that in co-ed schools female students risked being sexually harassed. “We have fundamental problems in our education system. We have beautiful school buildings, but that’s not enough. What are students being taught?” he said. “What is going on in the classrooms? Especially in co-ed schools, how are students behaving towards one another?”
Yapıcıoğlu added that it was up to the authorities to make sure “youngsters do not develop bad behaviors” and that abolishing co-ed classes was an important step in ensuring this.
The AKP’s conservative allies have been emphasizing the need for an “Islamic curriculum” and that the education system should be centered around raising children who are mindful of religious values. One of their demands has been for a gender-segregated education system.
These sentiments have been echoed by the Education Minister Yusuf Tekin, who said the government needed to consider such a reform.
However, critics have slammed these remarks, saying gender-segregated schools would lead to segregation in other areas of social life. Education unions said the minister’s remarks reflected a conservative turn in the nation’s education system.
“Many schools are currently collaborating with Islamic cults in organizing extracurricular activities,” they said in a written statement to Deutsche Welle Turkish service (DW). “The minister of education is clearly supporting these collaborations, and his remarks are another example of making education more conservative.”