Greek Minority Schools in Turkey Struggle With Low Enrollment

Greek minority schools in Turkey struggle to survive as currently there are only six left; while there used to be 60 to 70 of them in the 1950s, a Hurriyet Daily News report says.

“In Turkey, the Greek population today is between 2,500 and 3,000. There are currently six Greek schools. In the 1950s, this number was around 60 to 70. In the 2000s, it fell to 10. The only institution opened in the last years is the Gokceada Greek School,” head of the Association for Support of Greek Community Foundations in Turkey, Andon Parizyanos, told Hurriyet.

Parizyanos attributed the drop to the low enrollment in Greek schools: “Since they have no students left anymore, the Greek primary schools in the Istanbul neighborhoods of Kadıkoy, Kurtulus, and Ferikoy have been closed down. Our education institutions are gradually decreasing in number. In places that used to swarm with children, there are only 50 students now. For the number of students to increase, guest students can also be given diplomas. Improving the quality of our schools and teaching the Greek language to mixed-raced children are important to us. Our income is not enough, the foundations are having financial difficulties,” Parizyanos said.

Turkish Minority Foundations representative Toros Alcan told Hurriyet that there is a bureaucratic problem as minority schools are considered “private schools” and the donations they receive are considered income. Since schools in Turkey are public, there is a “status problem,” he said. Thereby, there is a funding problem regarding minority schools.

The Greek schools, like other minority schools, are tied to the Turkish Education Ministry. In these schools, students are required to take Turkish, geography, and history classes in the Turkish languages. Other classes such as physics, music, and mathematics are taught in Greek. The curriculum, however, is determined by the ministry. The ministry appoints some Turkish teachers to the schools and makes it compulsory for the school principal’s assistant to be Turkish.