The expansion of compulsory education in Turkey: local and world culture dynamics

Akboga S.

Compare, vol.46, no.5, pp.789-810, 2016 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 46 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/03057925.2015.1106306
  • Journal Name: Compare
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.789-810
  • Keywords: Turkey, Imam-Hatip Schools, world culture, local culture, expansion of compulsory primary education
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Drawing on world culture and local culture explanations of educational change, this article aims to understand the dynamics of educational reform in Turkey in 1997 that expanded compulsory primary education from five to eight years. To do so, speeches given by opponents and proponents of the reform in the Turkish parliament were analysed. Imam-Hatip schools, vocational secondary schools for educating religious functionaries, were central to the debate. In support of world culture explanations, both sides of the debate made references to Western educational models and universal values such as democracy and human rights to frame and legitimise their arguments. However, all these arguments were embedded in local cultural and political issues. This article therefore proposes that both world culture and local culture should be considered when analysing national policy changes since local actors can easily appropriate global developments to support their local cultural and political interests.