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The Turkey K-12 Education System

The Ministry of National Education administers the K-12 education system in Turkey. In Turkey, compulsory education lasts for 12 years, and after that students may go for higher education

Turkish K-12 Education System

The K-12 education system of Turkey comprises of:
  • Pre-primary education (Okul Oncesi): This K-12 educational level is optional and for children aged 3 to 6
  • Primary education (İlkoğretim):  This K-12 educational level is compulsory for all children aged 6 to 14. 
  • Secondary education (Lise): This K-12 educational level is compulsory for children aged 14 to 18, and includes general, technical and vocational high schools. 
In Turkey, there are state-funded as well as private schools. 

Pre-primary Education

The pre-primary education in Turkey is optional, and provided by kindergarten, nursery schools, day care centres, kindergarten-nursery schools, preparatory classrooms, and child care centers. The Pre-primary education work towards the intellectual, physical and emotional development of children. It creates an atmosphere for growth, and also prepares children for primary education.
  • Ages: 0 to 6 years
    • Day Nursery: 0-36 months (0-3 year-old)
    • Kindergarten: 37-60 months (4-5 year-old)
    • Pre-school Class: 61-72 months (6 year-old)

Primary Education

The primary education in Turkey provides basic skills and knowledge. This educational level is compulsory to attend, and is free at state schools.
  • Ages: 6 to 14
  • Duration: 8 years
  • Grades: 1 to 8 
Primary education in Turkey is divided into 2 levels of 4 years each:
  • Level 1: Covers grades 1 to 4, and is for students aged 6 to 9
  • Level 2: Covers grades 5 to 8, and is for students aged 10 to 14

At primary schools, basics of many subjects are taught. From grade 4, foreign language is taught. English, German or French classes are also held. Till grade 6, a single teacher teaches all the subjects to Turkish pupils. From grade 7 onwards, different teachers are present to teach different subjects.

Curriculum: Mathematics, a foreign language- German, English or French; traffic safety and first aid; Turkish language and literature; religious culture and ethics, arts; social studies, physical education, human rights and civics; individual and group activities; music; sciences, Turkish history and Ataturk's reforms; and elective subject. 

Certificate awarded: Upon successful completion of primary education, students are awarded a primary education diploma.

Secondary Education

The secondary education raise awareness to contribute to the society, provide cultural education, help students to identify and solve social and individual problems, and also prepares pupils for higher education.
  • Ages: 14 to 18
  • Grades: 9 to 12
  • Duration: 4 years
Secondary education comprises of general, vocational and technical secondary education.

Core Curriculum: 
In grade 9, core curriculum is followed: Mathematics, biology, religious education and ethics, chemistry, history, foreign language, philosophy, visual arts and music, health, geography, physics, military science, health, Turkish language and literature, traffic and first aid, and physical education.

In grade 10, 11 and 12, there are common courses as well as electives. 

Elective courses: Turkish literature, modern Turkish and world history, history, language and expression, foreign language, chemistry, mathematics, logic, psychology, geometry, second foreign language, biology, sociology, and physics.

General Secondary Education

The general secondary education provide basic skills and knowledge, and prepare pupils for tertiary eduction.
  • Duration: 4 years
At the general secondary schools in Turkey, the first year studies are same for all the pupils. In the second year, students are required to select their major from the following streams: 
  • Arts
  • Natural sciences
  • Foreign languages and mathematics
  • Social sciences
  • Literature and mathematics
General secondary education is provided by the following high schools:
  • General High Schools: These schools are established and managed by the government and provide free education. Students who successfully complete the general high school studies are eligible to sit for the university entrance exam.  
  • Anatolian high schools: These schools teach the pupils a minimum of 1 foreign language that can be used to further their studies. The duration of the studies at these schools is 4 years, including 1-year of preparatory course. Apart from foreign lessons, mathematics and science are also taught.
  • Science high schools: These schools emphasize on science studies.
  • Anatolian teacher training high schools
  • Anatolian fine arts high schools: These schools provide studies in the area of fine arts. This school lasts for 4 years, inclusive of 1-year preparatory course.
  • Social sciences high school
  • Sport high schools: These schools focus on sports education.  This type of high school train sportswomen and sportsmen in both national and international fields.
  • Foreign Language High School (Yabanci Dil Agirlilki Lise): These schools prepare students for higher education as per their bent and abilities. They provide extensive foreign language education. The duration is 4 years, with 1st year being the intensive foreign language preparatory programme.
  • Private high schools: These schools are set up private organizations and companies, and offer classes in the chosen foreign language.
Major Concentrations: 
In addition to the core curriculum, the foreign language high schools, general high schools, and Anatolian high schools lay emphasis on the following 6 subjects: sports, science, foreign language, social studies, fine arts, mathematics, and Turkish language and literature.

At Science high schools, the course only in science is available. 

At the Anatolian fine arts high schools, students can specialize in either music or art. 

Duration: The period of studies in Anatolian high schools, Anatolian fine arts high schools, high schools with intensive foreign language courses, Anatolian teacher training high schools, and science high schools is 4 years inclusive of 1 year of foreign language preparatory class.

Certificate awarded: Upon successful completion of general secondary education, students are awarded a secondary school diploma (Lise Diplomasi). Students who hold this secondary school credential are eligible to take university entrance exams.

Vocational and Technical Secondary Education 

Vocational and technical secondary education prepares students for a particular profession, or for higher education.  The vocational and technical secondary education is provided by the following vocational and technical high schools:
  • Technical high schools for boys (Erkek Teknik Ogretim Okullari): These schools prepare pupils in the field of science and technology.
  • Schools for commerce and tourism (Ticaret ve Turizm Ogretimi Okullari): These schools educate pupils for different public and private sector jobs as well as prepare students for higher education.
  • Technical high school for girls (Kiz Teknik Okullari): These schools train females to work in scientific and technical fields.  The programmes offered by these schools are available in formal as well non-formal education systems.
  • Imam and Preachers’ high schools: Courses such as Imamate, Koran and oratory are taught.  
  • Multi-programme high schools
  • Special education schools
  • Health high schools
  • Vocational and technical education centres: These centres are formal and non-formal educational institutions set up on the basis of a multi-programme. These schools provide secondary education certificate or vocational and technical education certificate.
  • Agriculture high schools
  • Police colleges

Technical Secondary Education

Technical secondary schools provide studies in the field of machinery, engineering, construction, chemistry and electronics. 
  • Duration: 4 years
Certificate awarded: Students who graduate from the technical secondary education are awarded a secondary technical school diploma (Teknik Lise Diplomasi) or a state technical high school diploma (Devlet Teknik Lisesi Diploması). Students who hold this secondary school credential are eligible to take university entrance exams.

Vocational Secondary Education

Vocational secondary schools provide studies in the field of public health, tourism, commercial and agricultural training, and industrial studies. 
  • Duration: 4 years
Certificate awarded: Students who graduate from the technical secondary education are awarded a secondary vocational school diploma (Meslek Lise Diplomasi) or a state vocational high school diploma (Devlet Meslek Lisesi Diploması ). Students who hold this secondary school credential are eligible to take university entrance exams.

Turkish School Term

The Ministry of National Education (Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı) determines the dates of the school terms, which are generally same all over the country. Private school dates may vary. 

School year: The school year is 9-months long. It commences in September and ends in June, followed by summer vacations of 3 months. The primary as well as secondary schools have a minimum of 180 school days.

The school year in Turkey is split up into 2 semesters: First semester commences in September and concludes in January; while the second semester commences in February and concludes in June. Also, there is a 2 week break in February. 

School timings: Schools start at 8:30 and concludes at 16:30, with 1 hour of lunch break in middle of the day.  The schools in Turkey run from Monday to Friday.

Total school hours in a week: 35 to 40 

All schools in Turkey are closed on public holidays.

Grading System

A grading scale 1 to 5 is used, where the passing grade is 2. The minimum average grade requirement for the following schools is:
  • For general, vocational and technical schools: 2.50
  • For Anatolian or similar schools: 3.00
  • For science and social science schools: 3.50
To know about the grading system of primary and secondary schools, click here.

Admission Procedure

Apply directly to the school and submit the following documents
  • A photocopy and original of an identity card of child and parents
  • Educational documents 
  • 3 passport-size photos
  • Residence certificate

Children with Disabilities

Children with disabilities are provided special education.  The Ministry of Education provides education to children with special needs at all K-12 levels. Such children are grouped into 8 categories of special needs: mental disabilities, visual, hearing, long-term illnesses, orthopedic, gifted and talented, adaptation problems, and speaking difficulties. There are preparatory classes before moving to the primary education. 
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