- Turkish-speaking communities & education: no delight
- Ali, Aydin Mehmet
This book discusses the education of Turkish-speaking [TS] communities in Britain, looking in particular at the reasons for underachievement amongst TS pupils, the use of the Turkish language and bilingual education in London, the concerns of women in education and mentoring.
The book is based on the experiences of the author in many spheres of educational provision, particularly with TS communities. It also draws partly on the author's research for her master's degree. Interviews with young TS people and education service providers were undertaken, and group interviews were held with TS parents to discuss their reasons for setting up a bilingual nursery school. Data on the educational achievement of TS pupils in London local authority areas are analysed, particularly those for Hackney, Haringey and Enfield. A literature review as well as a historical overview of the communities' migration are provided. ‘Turkish-speaking' refers to the Turkish, Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot communities considered in the study, of whom a significant number are refugees.
Some of the key findings are as follows. Educational underachievement amongst TS pupils was identified thirty years ago, however little has been done by local authorities to address the problem. This underachievement is partly a result of low expectations by teachers and other education service providers, the invisibility of TS communities in educational policies, structures and procedures and poor school-home-community relations. TS pupils have the lowest or second lowest educational achievement across nine Local Education Authorities [LEAs] in London based on Key Stages 1,2,3 and GCSE examination results; this position [where data is available] has not changed over the years and is unlikely to change in the near future. Turkish Cypriot pupils are the highest TS achievers, yet remain below local and national averages. Turkish pupils show improvement but not at a significant level and Kurdish students are the lowest achievers although closing the gap with Turkish and Turkish Cypriot students. Turkish Cypriot young women are the highest achieving group, sometimes equalling LEA or national averages. Turkish Cypriot young men's performance has deteriorated to levels in some cases below Turkish and Kurdish young men, indicating that length of settlement, schooling and language ability are not positively impacting on educational achievement.
Interviews with TS pupils revealed that they had suffered stereotyping and racism at school and had to struggle against low expectations from teachers. Most felt unsupported and few had benefited from the support of TS bilingual teachers. The young people identified themselves as quiet and shy which contributed to their invisibility in the school system. Bullying often led to TS pupils failing to attend school.
The Turkish language in its different varieties have gone through a revival in London because of the networks, activities and opportunities to develop the language at work and leisure or social gatherings. There has been a renewed interest in the language amongst young TS people and use it in the creation of their own cultures which reflect their realities as young people living in a multicultural society. Parents also feel that the Turkish language is crucial to the education of young TS people and advocate bilingual and bicultural education. Parents are aware that the British education system is failing their children and it is evident that parents teach their children at home to a certain degree. Parents in London set up a TS nursery because they felt it understood and responded to the needs of bilingual children and parents, unlike English language schools.
Regarding the education of TS adult women, there is an increasing number returning to higher education. More and more parents are encouraging their daughters to continue their education. Some women are concerned that the impact of Islam will negatively affect the education of women in the future. Educational establishments are seen to not be doing enough to reach out to TS women. Mentoring is crucial to ensuring higher education achievement in minority communities; this happens on an informal and formal basis. Those who have benefited from mentoring schemes have gained high level qualifications.
Drastic changes in the current situation for TS pupils can only come about through the active and cooperative involvement of LEAs, schools and TS communities. Recommendations in the book are aimed at LEAs, schools, TS communities, supplementary schools, parents, professionals, businesses and companies and young people. They include:
• LEAs should employ TS staff as consultants, advisors and outreach workers to work with educational institutions, ensure an adequate budget is provided to develop TS pupils achievements and develop partnerships with other LEAs and supplementary schools in London to share strategies, resources and expertise;
• schools should allocate specific funds for raising achievement amongst TS pupils, establish training for TS parents in issues relevant to the schooling of their children and establish Turkish language lessons during school time;
• supplementary schools should establish working partnerships with mainstream schools and contribute to the development of the school curriculum and provide training to schools and LEA staff on the TS communities;
• parents should familiarise themselves with the British education system, develop strategies to help with and monitor their child's homework, address their own educational needs and get involved in school life;
• businesses should create work placements for TS pupils and volunteer to become mentors for the young people;
• young people should establish peer support to prevent others from truanting, develop assertiveness strategies to deal with teachers and other young people in schools and be more confident about their ability to achieve.
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Available at the university libraries of the School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS] and London Metropolitan University.