Turkish President Erdogan Seeks to Reshape Secular Education

Emre Peker:

Political divisions here are extending into the classroom as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inspired by the country’s Ottoman past, vows to reshape a secular education system.

Turkey’s National Education Council this month recommended the country’s most sweeping curriculum changes in decades, including Islamic religion classes for first-graders who are Muslim, Ottoman-language lessons for some students and a rewrite of textbooks on modern Turkey’s secularist founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

The Education Ministry—headed by a member of Mr. Erdogan’s party—has the power to now put those recommendations into effect.

Opposition lawmakers said the shift stems from a broader pivot away from the West to the Middle East, as Mr. Erdogan seeks to turn the country into a regional power.