Snapshot of Turkey Education System

The Ministry of National Education administers the pre-higher education. The Council for Higher Education (YOK) is responsible for higher education in Turkey. Education in Turkey is managed and regulated by the State. As per the constitution of Turkey, each and everyone has the right to education.

As per the Basic Law of National Education the education system of Turkey comprises of: 
  • Formal Education
  • Non-formal Education
Formal education comprises of pre-primary, primary, secondary and higher education. Non-formal comprises of public education, apprenticeship training and distance education.

Compulsory Education

Compulsory education in Turkey lasts for 12 years and is divided into three stages of 4 years each (4+4+ 4). 

Formal Education 

Pre-primary Education

Pre-primary education in Turkey is provided by kindergarten, nursery schools, pre-schools, day-care centres, preparatory classrooms, and child care centres.This level of education is optional. 
  • Ages: 0-6
Nursery schools: For children up to the age of 3 (0 to 36 months)
Kindergarten: for children aged 4 to 5 (37-60 months)
Pre-school: for 6 year (61-72 months) old children

In Turkey, there are state as well as private kindergartens. The pre-primary educational institutions work towards the development of the child mentally, physically, socially and individually. This level also provides basic language skills to the children, and prepares them for primary education. 

Primary Education

Primary education in Turkey is compulsory, and free of charge at state schools. In Turkey, there are many private primary schools also operating. The private schools charge fees.
  • Ages: 6 to 14
  • Duration: 8 years
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

The primary education provides basic knowledge, skills and habits to be a good citizen, and also prepares students for life and further studies as per their bent and abilities.

Core 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. 

Secondary Education

The secondary education prepares pupils for tertiary education or vocation.
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Age: 15 to 18
Secondary education comprises of general, technical and vocational education. In Turkey, there are 2 main kinds of secondary education schools: 
  • General high/secondary schools 
  • Vocational and technical high schools 

General Secondary Education

The general secondary education provide basic knowledge and prepares students for higher education.
  • Duration: 4 years
The 1st year of the general secondary education is common academic to all pupils. In the 2nd year, pupils had to choose a concentration from the following streams
  • Literature and mathematics
  • Foreign languages and mathematics
  • Social sciences
  • Art
  • Natural sciences
Certificate: Pupils who successfully complete the general secondary educational level get a secondary school diploma (In Turkish: Lise Diplomasi), and is also eligible for the university entrance exam.

In Turkey, there are following types of general high schools:

General High School (Genel Lise): These schools are owned by the government and provide free education. Students who graduate from this are eligible to sit for the university entrance exam.  

Anatolian High School (Anadolu lisesi): These schools teach the pupils a minimum of 1 foreign language that can be used to further their studies. The admittance to these schools is based on the scores of the entrance exams. 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.

Anatolian Fine Arts High School (Anadoulu Guzel Sanatlar Lisesi): These schools aim to preserve artistic, national and culture values. The children develop special talent and skills in this type of school. This school lasts for 4 years, inclusive of 1-year preparatory course.

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.

Anatolian Teacher Preparatory Secondary Schools (Anadoulu Ogretmen Lisesi): These schools provide courses for teacher training.

Science High School (Fen Lisesi): These schools offer education to exceptionally gifted science and mathematics pupils; and also encourage pupils to go for research. These schools focus on mathematics and science. 

Special Training Schools: These schools are set up as per the disability groups. The schools are for children and youth in 5 different disability groups: mental retardation, blindness, long-term illnesses, orthopedic disabilities, and deafness. These schools meet educational needs of the people who require special training.  Education in these schools is free. 

Private High Schools (Ozel Liseler): There are many private high schools in Turkey. These schools charge tuition fees.

Also, there are high schools for children who are blind, deaf, orthopedically handicapped, and for retarded children.

Core Curriculum: Mathematics, religious culture and ethics, physics, Turkish language and literature, history, foreign language, biology, health, Turkish revolution history and the Ataturk reforms, geography, military science, philosophy, and chemistry.

Language of Instruction: Some of the high schools are bilingual. Classes are held in Turkish and in one of the foreign languages- German, English, or French.  

In Turkey, there are high schools available for minorities: Jews, Armenians, and Greek. These high schools schools offer some subjects in Greek or Armenian.

Vocational and Technical Secondary Education

Vocational and technical education is provided at vocational and technical high schools. Both the schools prepare pupils for employment in different professions, and for tertiary education. 
  • Duration: 4 years
Technical and vocational high schools are split up into 4 main categories: 
  • Commerce, tourism and communication
  • Industrial and technical
  • Religious services
  • Social services
In Turkey, there are 4 types of technical and vocational high schools:

Technical schools for boys (Erkek Teknik Ogretim Okullari): These schools prepare pupils in the field of science and technology.

Technical schools for girls (Kiz Teknik Okullari): These schools train girls to work in scientific and technical fields.  The programmes offered by these schools are available in formal as well non-formal education systems. 

Commerce and tourism schools (Ticaret ve Turizm Ogretimi Okullari): These schools educate pupils for different private and public sector work as well as prepare students for tertiary education.

Religious education schools (Din Egitimi Okullari): These schools provide religious education.

Students who graduate from vocational and technical high schools are eligible to apply for a 2-year higher vocational school or a 4-year higher school. 

Technical Branch Credentials

Certificate awarded: Students who successfully complete the technical secondary education are awarded Secondary Technical School Diploma (Teknik Lise Diplomasi) or State Technical High School Diploma (Devlet Teknik Lisesi Diploması). Also, students are allowed to sit for the university entrance examinations.

Vocational Branch Titles

Certificate awarded: Students who successfully complete the technical secondary education are awarded Secondary Vocational School Diploma (Meslek Lise Diplomasi) or State Vocational High School Diploma (Devlet Meslek Lisesi Diploması ). Also, students are allowed to sit for the university entrance examinations.

Higher Education

Higher education in Turkey is imparted by the higher education institutions- state and private higher education institutions. These institutions comprise of universities-public and private; faculties, conservatories, institutes, higher vocational schools, research and application centres.  

State higher education institutions are financed by the government budget, while the private or Foundation universities are financed by their foundations and pupils.  The Higher education council administers all the higher education institutions. The universities, faculties, institutions, and four-year schools offer studies at all the three degree levels:
  • Bachelors: This degree generally requires 4 years of full-time study. For courses in medicine, it takes 6 years; for dentistry and veterinary medicine, it takes 5 years. 
  • Master’s: This degree generally requires 2 years of full-time study. It comprise of 2 types of study programmes: with a master’s final thesis, and without thesis which takes one and a half years.
  • Doctorate: This degree takes about 3 to 5 years to complete. 
  • Two-year associate degrees are provided in vocational and technical areas in order to enter the job market.
Study periods are expressed in credits, and the academic year is divided into semesters.

Non-formal Education

Non-formal education is for those individuals who could not complete their education and wish to complete their studies or who never had education. The non-formal education provides basic mathematical and literacy skills and knowledge.  This type of education is organized through:

Public education

Apprenticeship training: This is a dual training system in which practical as well as theoretical training is provided. The theoretical training is provided in vocational training centres which comprises of 30% general courses and 70% vocational courses; and the practical training is provided in the workplace where how to deal with the practical issues is taught. This training lasts for 2 to 4 years depending on the vocation. Children aged 14 and who have completed their primary education can attend apprenticeship training. Individuals who finish the apprenticeship training can appear for the foremanship examination. Graduates are given a certificate of foremanship and they can go for mastership training that lasts for 1 to 3 years.

Distance education:  This non-formal education comprises of open high schools (AOL), open primary schools (AOI), and technical and vocational open high schools.
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