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The Rise of Anti-Intellectualism in light of the AKP’s Education Policy

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has urged the removal of the Transition from Primary to Secondary Education (TEOG) exam in Turkey, saying that he finds the practice wrong. “Don’t we have lackings in national education? Yes, we do. We will overcome those. For instance, I don’t want this TEOG thing anymore and I find it wrong now. It needs to be removed,” Erdoğan told private broadcaster A Haber late on Sept. 15, as he added that “they didn’t complete their education with TEOG.” Immediately after this statement, AKP (Justice and Development Party-Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) officials acted and declared that they would begin the necessary arrangements for the removal of TEOG. On the other hand, opponents criticized the government’s preparations to remove the TEOG exam system. With the removal of the examination system, favoritism can be increased when entering high school. This is, in fact, an indication of how the AKP has stepped up its education policies and how it has boosted anti-intellectualism throughout the country. This article analyzes how this process has taken place.

The Logic of Anti-Intellectualism in Turkey under AKP Rule

This article begins with an example from 2014 to highlight AKP’s anti-intellectualism. Presidential elections for the twelfth President of Turkey were held on 10 August 2014 and the leading candidates, AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and – the CHP’s (Republican People’s Party-Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi) and MHP’s (Nationalist Action Party- Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi) candidate Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu – clashed in this election. These two political figures are very different from each other. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu has international experience and a background as an academic (Çarkoğlu, 2014: 4). Erdoğan focused on İhsanoğlu’s high profile during the election campaigns. Thus, when İhsanoğlu was emphasizing his experience on international affairs, Erdoğan would reply that Turkey needs a president, not a diplomat. When he highlighted he speaks three languages, Erdoğan easily debunked and dismissed the argument by saying ‘Oh, he speaks three languages? That’s great, but you see, we are looking for someone to run the country here and we already have........

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