Early Childhood Education Campaign in Türkiye

    Prof. Dr. Mahmut Özer, Prof. Dr. Petek Aşkar, Dr. H. Eren Suna

    Early childhood education (ECE) is a critical policy area globally, with its potential to provide equal opportunities and support the academic and social success of children. Türkiye has made significant efforts to expand ECE enrollment and ensure that every child receives at least one year of early childhood education before starting school. However, as of 2021, Türkiye remained significantly below the OECD average in terms of schooling rates, emphasizing the need for further action to ensure universal access to ECE. To address this issue, the Ministry of National Education has made early childhood education a primary policy area for 2022. In response to this, Prof. Dr. Mahmut Özer, Prof. Dr. Petek Aşkar, and Dr. H. Eren Suna have launched the “Early Childhood Education Campaign,” aiming to guarantee that all students in Türkiye receive the benefits of ECE. This campaign builds on the physical infrastructure enhancements made to expand ECE, with tripled overall capacity and the addition of 6 thousand 4 kindergartens in just one year. The campaign also addresses socioeconomic disparities in ECE access and has established support mechanisms to expand ECE to all students, including those from low socioeconomic backgrounds. The government has covered the education expenses of students receiving social assistance, and free school meals are now provided to all ECE students. These efforts have resulted in significant progress, with schooling rates increasing from 65% to 99% for 5-year-olds, 16 % to 38 % for 4-year-olds, and 9 % to 16 % for 3-year-olds within just one year. The campaign’s target for 2023 is to reach 70 % of schooling at age 4 and 50 % at age 3, maintaining the growing momentum towards universal ECE access in Türkiye.

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