Unemployed Teachers demonstrating last May

The Education Minister in Turkey, Nabi Avci, has caused outrage amongst teachers by suggesting that those who commit suicide because they cannot find a job are seeking attention or 'to make others fall in with their wishes.'

There are 40,000 teachers in Turkey who are fully qualified but unable to find work, this despite the massive shortage of teachers in the country, and thousands of other teachers are employed on temporary contracts. Some 40 have committed suicide as a result of depression caused by these policies over the last few years. Thousands of teachers demonstrated against this situation last May.

One trade union leader said: 'I think it is helplessness and hopelessness that drives people to commit suicide . . . The minister's attempt to explain the reason behind these suicides as a need to draw attention is turning a blind eye to the problems in Turkey's education policy.'

Incredibly the minister attempted to explain the suicide of a young girl who had done badly in a standardised test in the same way.

The minister's remarks show at best a failure to understand the results of the increasingly neoliberal turn in Turkish education policy and at worst contempt for the people who teach and learn in the system.

To read more background on the struggles of Turkish teachers go here.