The Ministry of National Education regulates the educational system in Turkey and is responsible for school-level education in Turkey- pre-primary, primary, and secondary education. The higher education system of Turkey is managed and supervised by the Council of higher education (CoHE).
The National education system of Turkey comprises formal and non-formal education.
Formal education encompasses pre-primary, primary, secondary, and higher education. The state funds primary and secondary education in Turkey. Education in public schools for children aged 6 to 18 is free.
Non-formal education is for young adults who cannot attend school.
Compulsory Education: Compulsory education in Turkey lasts 12 years.
Primary and secondary education in Turkey is represented “4 plus 4 plus 4” system. The first level of primary education lasts for four years, followed by the second level for four years, and secondary education for four years.
Pre-primary education in Turkey is optional and is offered by kindergartens, nurseries, daycare centers, and other child-care institutions. Children aged 3 to 6 may attend these pre-primary schools. In Turkey, there are private as well as state preschools.
Primary education in Turkey is for children aged 6 to 14. This educational level is mandatory to attend and is divided into two levels:
Level 1: First School (İlkokul 1. Kademe): The duration of this level is four years and covers grades 1 to 4.
Level 2: The duration of this level is four years and covers grades 5 to 8.
Subjects: In grades 1 to 3, there are four core subjects: Mathematics, Turkish, foreign language, and life sciences (Hayat Bilgisi). In grade 4, science and social studies are taught instead of life sciences.
Certificate: Students who complete their primary school studies are awarded a primary education diploma.
Secondary education in Turkey is optional for children aged 15 to 17/18. This education is offered by high schools (Lise). The Government is responsible for these schools, and education in these schools is free. The duration of secondary education is four years.
Secondary education in Turkey comprises general, vocational, and technical education. This educational level prepares students for higher education or a vocation.
General secondary education: Children aged 15 to 17 may attend general secondary education. This secondary educational level consists of high schools, Anatolia fine arts high schools, high schools of foreign language teaching, Anatolian High Schools, science high schools, and Anatolia teacher training high schools.
Vocational and technical secondary education: This secondary educational level prepares students for a particular profession or higher education. This secondary educational level consists of technical education schools for boys, religious education schools, technical education schools for girls, health education schools, trade and tourism schools, special education schools, multi-program high schools, and private education schools.
Examination: At the end of secondary education, students must sit for a high school finishing exam. Students who pass this examination are allowed to sit for the University Entrance Exam. Students who pass the university exam can apply to higher education institutions in Turkey.
Private schools in Turkey are classified into four categories:
Corporate bodies of Turkish citizenship establish private Turkish schools. These schools provide public education courses at pre-primary, primary, and secondary levels.
Private schools for minorities: These schools are formed by Jewish, Greek, and Armenian minorities; and provide education at pre-primary, primary, and secondary educational levels to minority-class pupils with Turkish citizenship.
Private foreign schools: These schools are formed during the Ottoman Empire by Austrian, French, Italian, American, and German individuals under the conditions of the Lausanne Treaty. Turkish children attend this school.
Private international educational institutions are established according to the provisions in Law no. 625 (article 5).
The higher education council (YOK) administers, the higher education system in Turkey. Public higher education institutions receive finance from the state. Students who have completed secondary education and passed the university entrance exam are eligible for higher education. The degree structure of Turkish higher education adheres to the Bologna process. Turkish universities provide the following qualifications:
Associate’s degree: Vocational high schools in Turkey offer associate degrees.
Bachelor’s degree: This degree is 4 to 6 years, depending upon the field of study. Generally, this degree program lasts for four years. Studies in architecture, veterinary medicine, and dentistry last for five years; while medicine studies require six years of study and lead to a Medicine Doctor (MD) qualification. The technical institutions provide an engineering diploma after four years of full-time study.
Master’s degree: This degree requires two years of full-time study.
Doctorate or Ph.D. degree: This requires 2 to 4 years of study, and students who have completed a master’s degree program are eligible for this level. Students must submit a doctoral thesis at the end of the Ph.D. program.
A proficiency in art degree is equivalent to a fine arts doctorate, and a specialist degree is equivalent to a doctorate in medical science.
Non-formal education in Turkey is administered by the Ministry of National Education (MEB). The non-formal education provides knowledge and skills to an individual from different professions; helps pupils who couldn’t complete their education to study further and complete their studies; teach a healthy lifestyle and balanced nutrition, and also provide reading and writing skills. This form of education is provided by a network of training centers available in Turkey.
This education also encompasses distance higher education provided at the Open Education Faculty of Anadolu University. The duration of the course of study is 2 to 4 years.
Students must complete their secondary education to gain admittance into Turkish higher education. Students are admitted into universities based on the entrance exam results. The exam is conducted and managed by the student selection and placement center (OSYM).