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Education in Turkey is governed by a national system which was established in accordance with the Ataturk Reforms after the Turkish War of Independence. It is a state supervised system designed to produce a skillful professional class for the social and economic institutes of the nation. Until 1997 children in Turkey were obliged to take five years of education. The reforms 1997 introduced compulsory education for eight years.

Formal education in Turkey, which is governed by the Ministry of National Education (www.meb.gov.tr), includes pre-school education, primary education and secondary education.

The Council of Higher Education (YOK, www.yok.gov.tr) is responsible for the planning, coordination and supervision of higher education.

Turkish primary education is compulsory for every Turkish citizen from the age of six to the age of fourteen, regardless of sex, and is free of charge in state schools. In 1997, the duration of compulsory primary education was extended from five to eight years. Prior to 1997, primary education comprised five years of primary school (Ilkokul) and three years of middleschool, or junior high school (Ortaokul). After completion of the fifth year the Primary School Diploma (Ilkokul Diplomasi) was awarded, and the Middle School Diploma (Ortaokul Diplomasi) was awarded at the end of the three-year middle school education. These two diplomas have since been combined and replaced by a single diploma, the Primary Education Diploma (Ilkogretim Diplomasi), to be awarded to those students who successfully complete the 8 year basic education program.

The basic education program includes Turkish language and literature, mathematics, social studies, science, civics and human rights, the history of the Turkish Republic and Ataturk's reforms, a foreign language (English, French or German), individual and group activities, religious culture and ethics, art/handicraft, music, physical education, traffic safety and first aid, career guidance, and elective courses. In primary schools, students are graded on a scale of 1-5 (maximum), with 2 being the minimum passing grade (equivalent to 45/100).

The secondary education system can be classified as General High Schools (Duz Lise), and Vocational and Technical High Schools (Meslek Lisesi). Until 2005-2006, secondary education was three years but now the duration is four years.

The different kinds of high schools of the Turkish education system include:

  • General High Schools,
  • Public High Schools (Standard Education),
  • Anatolian High Schools, which provide lessons in a selected foreign language (English, German or French. Successful students who are determined by tests during primary education may be enrolled.
  • Anatolian Fine Arts High Schools
  • Anatolian Religious High Schools (Imam-Hatip) which have the same curriculum as Anatolian High Schools with lessons on religion
  • Science High Schools focusing on science education;n Private High Schools, which are established by private enterprises. Private High schools are referred as “colleges” (kolej) and they offer at least one foreign language
  • Vocational High Schools, focus on a certain type of profession (such as Tourism Vocational High Schools, Industrial Vocational High Schools,and Electrical Vocational High Schools)When students complete the 9th grade, they choose one of four tracks: Turkish language–Mathematics, Mathematics–Science, Social Sciences,and Languages. At the end of high school, following the 12th grade,students take the National University Entrance Examination (OSS - www.osym.gov.tr) to continue their studies at a university or a two year school. Although students can take the test and try to get placed in any major, practically speaking, they opt to select a major related to their track in high school.