Afghanistan: Turkey takes control of schools linked to Gulen

KABUL (TCA) — Turkey has taken control of 12 schools in Afghanistan run by an organization linked to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for a failed coup in Turkey in 2016, RFE/RL reports.

The Afghan-Turk schools will now be run by Turkey’s state educational foundation Maarif, defying opposition by Afghan students and parents.

The move against Afghan Turk CAG Educational NGO (ATCE), the body that runs the schools, appears to be part of Turkey’s campaign against followers of Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of being behind a coup attempt in July 2016 aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

ATCE, which says it is an independent organization, has operated schools in several Afghan cities including the capital Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif, Kandahar, and Herat since 1995.

Turkish Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz and his Afghan counterpart, Mohammad Ibrahim Shinwari, attended a handover ceremony in Kabul on February 26.

In return for control of the schools, Turkey has promised to double the number of Turkish schools in Afghanistan, bring in new, highly qualified teachers, cut student fees, and offer more scholarships to Afghan students, according to the Afghan Education Ministry.

In the first phase, Turkey will spend $5 million to bring about systematic changes in these schools and this amount will be increased to $20 million in the coming years, the ministry said.

On February 26, parents of the Afghan-Turk school association called on the Afghan government to keep the schools and students out of politics, TOLOnews reported.

“We maintain the right to raise our voice against the illegal decision made by the government, I again call on the president and the government leadership not to oppress our children,” said Mohammad Yusuf Pashtun, head of the Afghan-Turk schools parents’ association.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

View more articles fromTCA