The teaching profession has long been a very respected and coveted one in Turkey. Yet, the practical challenges of teaching are so many, and there are practically no resources to support teachers in this difficult endeavor. Only since the past few years have NGOs and to a lesser extent (but increasing) the Ministry of Education (MONE) recognized how critical it is to support and continually develop teachers, as their performance, moral and overall well being is so critical for Turkey’s overall social development- at an individual and community level. Many students who study at teaching facilities in Anatolian State Universities (which tend to serve more underprivileged youth) come from economically disadvantaged families, often the first in their family to attend university. A majority are young women (as this profession tends to attract more women), coming from rural villages and/or having parents or grandparents who emigrated from poorer rural areas. The teacher training university curriculum mainly focuses on technical topics of pedagogy and as in the case of most universities in Turkey, they do not provide any opportunities to develop what are known as 21st-century skills- particularly ‘social and emotional skill such as communication, teamwork, conflict resolution, and others which increase their resilience and chances of vocational and overall life success. Unfortunately, this gap in skills affects all youth in Turkey, and having a university education does not necessarily enhance vocational and personal development.
Upon completion of school, teaching faculty graduates take a central exam (KPSS) and then wait to be appointed by the Ministry of Education (MONE) for 6 years of obligatory service. These new teachers are usually sent to rural schools in Eastern Turkey- since these tend to have a higher turnover, being least preferred by teachers who, as soon as they can, arrange to be appointed elsewhere. Rural schools have particular challenges that most teachers have difficulty overcoming and that new graduate are not prepared for- they often are smaller (can have as little as 8 pupils in total), usually have multi-aged classes, and very limited human, technical, and physical resources which creates a great deal of pressure and difficulty for new teachers. As under-resourced and under-supported as schools and teachers are, much more is usually expected and needed from them as they are seen as the ‘educated one’ by the community and have to deal with/help families and children cope with very critical social issues including but not limited to abuse, early/forced marriage and other detrimental circumstances. As such, these youth require core skills which increase their resilience and support systems to prepare them for very challenging assignments.
KODA is a network of mainly primary school level rural teachers preparing for their first assignments as teachers. They aim to create a youth-based peer support and training community to increase the personal and vocational capacity of youth (20-24) during their university training years by supplementing formal education with practical and supportive skill development. Ultimately, KODA’s goal is for these young teachers to have the personal and vocational skills to be changemakers and leaders in rural communities, working with children and youth to maximize their potential and empower them for their future.
Founded in 2016, KODA has quickly been able to establish themselves as a leader in a very unique and niche space of youth development among teacher candidates, piloting their program in 3 universities to date: Izmir-Ege University, Samsun-19 Mayis University, and Mus-Alparslan University. To date, 70 student teachers attend the program. According to initial assessments, the program achieved its goal of increasing the job readiness of student teachers. Establishing connections to other peers as well as experienced educators have not only increased the vocational success but also self-confidence, social capital, and other core life skills, leading KODA to realize that their programs are very valuable spaces for youth development.
In a short period of time, KODA has achieved a great deal: 1) The Ministry of Education recognized KODA workshops and expressed their desire to collaborate on expanding the program. 2) In 2018, earned the Ibrahim Bodur Social Entrepreneurship award by Kale Holding, one of the biggest holdings in Turkey. 3) The KODA young teacher community in Harran-Sanliufa (southeastern Turkey) were recognized by the Governor of Harran and promoted as headmasters in schools and as officials in the Projects Departments of the Governor’s office. KODA is also a member of AcikAcik platform, an NGO transparency register that certifies financials and operational effectiveness. The founder of KODA Mine Ekinci is herself from a village and studied in a village school, going on to university and obtain a Masters Degree in Education from Harvard University. She founded KODA with a vision to improve the professional and personal development of young teachers not only for their well being but to also contribute to rural communities in a positive and supportive way.
EMpower’s second grant to KODA is developing vocational and core youth development skills of 400 young rural school teachers in training, with a particular focus on underserved youth studying at Anatolian state universities in 8 cities (and 8-10 primary schools) across Turkey.
Primary Location: Diyarbakir, Turkey
Funded Since: 2019
Primary Location: Diyarbakir, Turkey
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