Teachers, education activists and academics in Turkey are engaged in a courageous campaign to promote secular education in Turkey, in opposition to the government's drive to make a religious education mandatory throughout the country.

The new movement is supported by the teaching union Egitim Sen, as well as several political parties, the 20 million strong Alawite community, and the United June movement (named for the pro-democracy protests in Gezi park in 2013). Tomorrow, 13th February the organisers are calling on parents to boycott school all over the country while teachers strike, to draw people's attention to the increasing islamization of education. As has been the practice of the Turkish authorities, attempts are being made to repress the strike. The governor of Izmir Povince for example has written to school directors urging them to start disciplinary proceedings against students or teachers who take part. Already today many activists, particularly from the United June movement have been taken into custody. One in Izmir province is charged with 'assaulting President Erdogan with slogans'.

According to one of the main organisers of the protests, 'Islamization' is a central strategy of the neo-liberal government of Tayyip Erdogan. The ruling elite believe that those opposing them are secular or at least 'not Muslim enough' so 'they think that if they Islamize the education, a new generation will be formed in line with the new regime.'

Teachers have undergone a long history of repression in Turkey especially under the current government, with many leaders and activists arrested or sacked and police repression of demonstrations. Not only are they facing a centrally dictated change in the culture of the schools, hundreds of thousands are on temporary contracts while many more are unemployed, even though there is a severe shortage of teachers in the country. 

To read more about the background to this struggle, go here.