Only Turkish school in Iran: A unique education in a modest space

Turkish teenage singer Aleyna Tilki’s recent hit single plays in place of the break bell as it marks the end of another class for around 50 Turkish students at Turkish Embassy Primary School in Tahran. Children rush out of the building during the 10-minute break just to run in a very limited space as the school is located inside the grounds of the Turkish Embassy in Tehran, the Iranian capital. High-level visitors often visit the Turkish Ambassador while children need to know their borders so as not to spoil anything diplomatically.

The Iranian regime is tough. Not a single Turkish school is allowed across the country. The primary school at the Turkish Embassy in Tahran remains a unique example, however, since it was inaugurated in 2011 in the presence of the then Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, received by his counterpart Javad Zarif.

The school is managed by the Turkish Ministry of National Education (MEB). Students who receive education here do not lose any years of study compared to their peers in Turkey. All are au pairs. Eyüp Beyaz, the principal, has already settled in Tehran. With nine teachers dispatched from Turkey, Beyaz strives to achieve the best results and provide the most comfortable environment for the students.

Nadide Yeşim Doğan, English teacher at the Turkish School in Tehran, writes on the whiteboard while teaching new words to the students.

The modest space allocated to the school is a difficult situation, of which the principal is aware. “We can only admit Turkish students at the moment, but things would change if the capacity increased,” he said.

Inside the school, nothing is different from Turkey. A panel presenting the life of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of the Republic of Turkey, and another panel recalling the lives lost in the attempted coup of July 15, 2016 with pictures, drawings and short poems welcome visitors.

The lessons are also no different from those at a school in Istanbul. Mathematics and science lessons in English and Turkish are offered. Nadide Yeşim Doğan, the English teacher, is as unique as the school itself.

Being the only teacher in the school, Doğan suddenly found herself in the Iranian capital, where the lives of single women can unquestionably be much stricter and more burdensome more often than not. It is however perfectly in accordance with Iranian laws thanks to its past mission.

“I have been assigned as a teacher in Saudi Arabia before,” Doğan said, mocking the ironic situation. Weighing the daily in Saudi Arabia and Iran, the latter wins overwhelmingly in the eyes of the English teacher.

“I love Iran more. I was assigned to Iran, a country I always wanted to see on a sightseeing tour with friends,” she said. Her parents want her to return quickly, however. “It doesn’t matter where I’m posted. I’ll do my duty justice for the country wherever I am.”

The children have also adapted to school just like their teachers. And Tehran? Do you go out willingly and do you like the city? “Meh …” the students of the second class mutter.

Even if the Iranian regime does not give the Turkish state the green light to open Turkish schools all over the country, the Yunus Emre Institute (YEE), a cultural institution based in Turkey, offers cultural and linguistic exchanges between them. two peoples.

“More than 7,000 Iranians have learned Turkish here since our opening in 2012,” said Turgay Şafak, head of the YEE branch in Tehran. Offering Turkish courses in 12 different levels, from A1, most basic language skills, to C2, academic mastery, YEE is teeming with Iranian students of all ages.

The popularity of language courses, however, depends on the political environment in Turkey and Turkish-Iranian relations. “When relations go down, so do the number of applicants,” afak said. The YEE official also recounted the great times the coup attempt took place in the summer of 2016.

Turkish lessons are not the only area in which the YEE is actively involved. Şafak explained that the institution aims to introduce Turkey’s soft power. She has so far organized plays, concerts, Turkish cinema weeks and lectures.

The institution was established as a public foundation in 2007 and became what it is in 2009. “It was founded due to the increasing internationalization of Turkey over the past 10 years”, that is as well as the president of YEE, Şeref Ateş, previously described the process of founding of the institution.

It seems that the YEE will continue to grow in terms of the number of Iranian students eager to take Turkish language courses and learn about Turkish culture, as Turkish TV series and entertainment programs are watched with so many enthusiasm than the Turks, or even more.

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