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The bleak future of Turkey’s youth

19 8 1

Pınar is an eighth grader living in Kadirli district of the Southern Province of Osmaniye. She took the High School Transition Exam (LGS) in June this year. Her parents managed a restaurant as a couple and they had sent their daughter to the preparatory courses as much as they could afford. Pınar studied for the exam for an entire year. She came across something unexpected upon getting the results of her exams. Her exam was cancelled without any reason provided. Pınar’s test paper was lost. At what stage it was lost, how it was lost, who was responsible for it; no explanation was provided. No suggestion for a solution was offered.

It was yet another example as to how young people in Turkey have little say in their own lives and are invisible. While we first spoke, she was confused and resentful. “Everybody knows which high school they will attend, except for me,” she said.

Difficult to believe but there was more to come. After a while, the family received a phone call from Bahçe Vocational and Technical School. Pınar Akbaş, whose exam was cancelled, looked as if she had opted to attend this school, some 80 kilometers away from her house. All the officials they got in touch with, could say no more than, “Oh my God. How could this happen?” Mother Sevgi Akbaş said, “Our brains stopped functioning. This kind of a thing can only happen in Turkey, I guess.” They filed a complaint; the office of the prosecutor is working on it. Pınar enrolled in a nearby school, in order to not lose a year of her life.

Pınar said she wanted to go to military school later in life as she looks up to her uncle. I told her perhaps she would change her mind while in high school. “I don’t think so,’ she retorted. She is trying to stay calm about what has happened but cannot help feeling desperate. This might affect her entire future. Most probably she will have a life where she will have to calm herself several times more. For our country and the times we are witnessing prepare us for this.

‘Three kids for each family’ are growing up

In his book “After the Future,” Franco “Bifo” Berardi refers to the reversal of the future. There is no longer an idea of a future that is generally imagined through metaphors of advancements and existing conflicts are solved through development, knowledge, while the universe of humanity will grow and get closer to a better one. At one point, Berardi refers to Miguel Benasayag and Gérard Schmidt, who have held long therapy sessions with young people living in the suburbs of Paris. What future means to young people there is explained as “the future is no longer a promise, it is a threat.”

Here in Turkey, we ought to keep in mind that our youth has not seen anything else but destructive neoliberalism and an authoritarian regime that considers freedom of opinion and expression as direct threats. Schools are, at all times, like tiny pills implanted in students’ minds; but, all through those years with the AKP, the ruling Justice and Development Party, science and free thinking have been undermined. Systematic intervention took place into the education system to raise “religious and vindictive”........

© Duvar English

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