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Uproar as Turkey bans students from Cyprus
A TURKISH decree banning Turkish Cypriot students who study at schools in the government controlled areas from applying to universities there was yesterday slammed by local educationalists.
“Students who study in the south will definitely not benefit from this new ruling,” the north’s ‘education minister’ Kemal Durust said, adding: “It was already one of our aims to discourage students from going to schools in the south”.
However, head of the Turkish Cypriot teachers union (KTOS) Sener Elcil slammed the ruling as “racist and discriminatory”.
The decree by the Turkish Higher Education Authority (YOK) in Ankara was issued on May 25, but was only announced by the north’s ‘education ministry’ earlier this week. According to the ruling, if the student is a ‘citizen’ of the ‘TRNC’ but has passed his or her exams in the government-controlled areas of Cyprus, their application will not be accepted.
On a more positive note, students who have passed British GCEs and A levels will, for the first time, be formally accepted by 79 state-run universities across Turkey. Previously, students were required to have taken the centralised Turkish university entrance exams.
“By making it a condition that students study in the north, they are discriminating against students who choose to study in the south,” Elcil said, adding that the ruling was part of Turkey’s “colonialist” approach to the north.
“Turkey is setting up its schools here and taking over ours; the intention is clear”.
Former head of educational planning in the north Hasan Alicik also attacked the ruling by saying, “Are children who study in the south not our citizens? How can we discriminate against our own people in such a way?”
Alicik added that many valuable members of the Turkish Cypriot community were graduates of the English School in Nicosia and other educational establishments in the south. He asked under what rationale Turkish universities could accept a Greek Cypriot with A levels from a school south of the Green Line, but not a Turkish Cypriot one.
“This ruling is purely political,” he concluded.
Parent of a former Turkish Cypriot student at the English School in south Nicosia Hilmi Cavli told the Cyprus Mail he found the ruling “inhumane”.
“If they are going to strip people of their rights in this way, they should relieve them of their responsibilities such as national service,” he said. “This is unfair and a double standard”.
Cavli added that the reason he sent his son, who now studies at Oxford University, to the English School was that he was a former student of the school and because he believed it offered a high quality of education.
“It was expensive and problematic to send our son to school in the south, but there simply isn’t a school of that caliber in the north,” he said, adding: “If they want to stop children going to schools in the south they would do better to open high quality schools in the north, rather than trying to do it with discriminatory laws”.