Kurdish in Turkish schools

According to an article I came across today, the Turkish government plan to introduce Kurdish language lessons in schools, if there is suffient demand. About 12% of Turkey’s population speaks Kurdish, so it’s likely that there will be demand for these lesson, especially in Eastern Turkey, where most of the Kurds live.

Until 2002 there were severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish in education and broadcast media, and the use of Kurdish names containing the letters X, W and Q, which are not used in Turkish, was banned. In schools all children are taught in Turkish, regardless of whether they speak it or not. This is the first time that Kurdish has been taught in public schools, and while it’s better than nothing, teaching the language for a few hours a week as if it were a foreign language is not ideal. Kurdish politicians and teachers would like to see the language used as a medium of instruction for Kurds at all levels of education.

Do any of you speak Kurdish or are you learning it?

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This entry was posted in Education, Language.

7 Responses to Kurdish in Turkish schools

  1. Andrew says:

    Sad that minority groups like this are still treated this way, especially in countries that purport to be 1st world / Developed and civilized, especially those that are in the process of applying for membership in the E.U. I wag my finger and look disapprovingly at you, Turkey.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  2. Syntax says:

    This treatment is nothing new. Sure look at France and the way they treat minority languages. I wish the Kurds well but don’t hold my breath.

  3. Chris Miller says:

    France is one of the prototypes of forced monolingualism and assimilation. It is very likely, given Atatürk’s inspirations, that he was directly copying the French “republican” model.

  4. Esther Brown says:

    Is nationalism a biological thing compared with territorial behaviour?

  5. Vijay John says:

    About Ataturk and Kurds, I think his actions against Kurds (and other ethnic minorities in Turkey) were motivated not so much by the French as by old regional tensions. I would say all or most of these minorities were similarly persecuted in the Ottoman Empire as well. And yes, Turkey is far from being the only country that is guilty of continued discrimination. I’m sure we all live in countries with at least one minority group that consistently suffers from discrimination.

    (I was going to post a longer comment, but the rest got blocked, so I’ll post it below this one).

  6. Vijay John says:

    OK, it doesn’t look like I’ll have any luck posting the rest of what I was going to say. Basically, I wanted to answer Simon’s original question and say that I speak a very little bit of Kurdish, mostly Sorani. I have also tried to learn some Kurmanci. I have no knowledge of any other variety of Kurdish.

  7. Michel says:

    @Chris Miller, the reason why French politicians stick(ed) to their bad habit of annihilating all regional culture goes back to the days when the republic thought it had to defend itself against centrifugal forces and/or an outside ennemy. Collapse was a possibility as France is not a country based on ethnicity (Germany) or even geography (Italy). Instead it’s a political construction of one thousand years. Atatürk probably had the French example in mind but he went too far. Anyway France and Turkey (and others) are downright wrong in my opinion : deliberately killing a language is a crime. For example France almost managed to kill the language of my ancestors, the Lothringer Platt or “francique luxembourgeois” after the end of WWI.