Education is one of the fundamental functions of the state and performed under state control and supervision. The Ministry of National Education (MoNE) is responsible for offering the educational services; the right to education is ensured by the Constitution.
Formal education includes pre-school education, primary education, secondary education and higher education institutions. There are both public (free of charge) and private schools providing education for all these levels.
Pre-school Education: It is optional for the children between 3-5 years old. Preschool education is provided by independent nurseries and a variety of ministries and institutions in kindergardens, nurseries and preparatory classes as well as day care and children care centers.
Primary Education: For children between 6 and 14 years old, compulsory and free of charge in public schools. Primary education is uninterrupted for 8 years and the graduates receive a primary education diploma.
Secondary Education: Secondary education is divided into two as general and vocational & technical education. General high schools offer 4 years of education for 15-18 years old to prepare them for higher education. They include the Anatolian High Schools (schools offering education in a foreign language), High Schools, Science Schools, Anatolian Teacher Training Schools, Anatolian Fine Arts schools and multi- curriculum high schools.
Vocational and technical high schools train the qualified manpower required in various fields of industry and prepare students for professional life as well as higher education. They include technical schools for boys, vocational schools for girls, vocational schools for commerce and hotel management and religious high schools.
Turkish education system is highly academic and teacher centered. There is a solid exam system, in which students have to get prepared almost all through their education life to get a better education opportunity. For this reason, in Turkey there are too many private high schools, which are quite popular amongst the parents and the students that can afford.
The national exam after primary education defines which type of school the student is going to study. Anatolian High schools, science schools and some popular private high schools only accept students according to the ranking of the student in the exam.
Thus, starting from the early years of their secondary education, the students also attend to private courses as to support their school life and get better prepared for the national exams. This fact makes young people’s life occupied mainly by education and only a limited time remains for social activities.
In all secondary schools, students wear uniforms as a rule. The style and the colors may differ from school to school, which is also considered as the identity of the school.
Except the few existing examples of schools for only girls or boys, at all schools girls and boys are studying together.
Depending on the facilities of the school, different social activities are available for the students. Most of the social activities are based on sports and music. All schools may have different student clubs. The efficiency of the clubs depend on the students and the support of the school. Private schools are more remarkable in terms of the social activities they offer.
Higher education: Higher education is offered by several state and private universities. There are higher vocational schools, offering practical education for 2 years and academic universities providing undergraduate studies for 4 years, except medical studies vary from 5 to 6 years. An additional 2 years is required for graduate degrees. All universities accept students according to the results of the national university exams. Every year more than 1.5 million students enter this exam in order to be able to get into a good university.
Exchange Students: Exchange students, are placed in a high school matching their age and the studies they have completed in their home country. Students are placed in General High Schools, Anatolian High Schools or Private High Schools that YFU Turkey is cooperating with. Exchange students do not pay any tuition fee, but they all have to pay for school transportation, school lunch, school uniforms and books regardless of the type of school they are placed in.