The final version of Turkey’s national school curriculum has left evolution out and added the concept of “jihad” as part of Islamic law in books, Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz said on July 18.
The new curriculum will be put into execution for first, fifth, and ninth graders starting from this year, and it will extend to other classes in the 2018-2019 academic year. Accordingly, a total of 176 class curricula have been renewed.
“Jihad is an element in our religion; it is in our religion… The duty of the Education Ministry is to teach every concept deservedly, in a correct way. It is also our job to correct things that are wrongly perceived, seen or taught,” Yılmaz announced at a press meeting in the Turkish capital Ankara.
“In this manner, in the lessons on Islamic law and basic religion sciences, there will be [the concept of] jihad. But what is this jihad? What our Prophet [Muhammad] says is that while returning from a war, we are going from a small jihad to a big jihad. What is this big jihad? It is to serve our society, to increase welfare, to ensure peace in society, to serve the society’s needs. The easiest thing is to wage war, to fight. The skill is the difficult one, which is to ensure peace and tranquility,” he said.
Speaking about the controversial decision to exclude evolution, Yılmaz said it was not included in the national curriculum “because it is above the students’ level and not directly relevant.”
Information on last year’s failed coup attempt will also be included in the curriculum. “When the subject of winning democracy is covered in social sciences classes, we will want the July 15 National Unity Day to be covered, too,” Yılmaz said.
“In Turkish language classes, when topics on the national struggle led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk [founder of modern Turkey] are being discussed, July 15 [2016 coup attempt] will also be touched on,” the minister noted.
Yılmaz said the new curriculum will also include topics on the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The chairman of a teachers’ union described the changes as a huge step in the wrong direction for Turkey’s schools and an attempt to avoid raising “generations who ask questions.”
“The new policies that ban the teaching of evolution and requiring all schools to have a prayer room, these actions destroy the principle of secularism and the scientific principles of education,” said Mehmet Balık, chairman of the Union of Education and Science Workers (Eğitim-İş).