What is the School System like in Turkey?

For expats looking at the education and school system in Turkey, local research and knowledge are necessary. Whether you choose to put your children in state schools or private is a personal choice, but it is wise to know what education they will receive, any outgoing costs and their curriculum so you can plan your new life around that. Many expat families in Istanbul chose private international schools for their kid’s education, but look at other destinations in the Aegean and Mediterranean, and many kids in school belong to multicultural families, and attend state schools. Schools generally operate from September to June. Kids attend morning and afternoon classes from Monday to Friday for a maximum of 40 hours per week. In addition, kids have a two-week winter break in either January or February. But what else should parents know about Turkey’s education system?

School kids

About the School System in Turkey

1: Pre-Primary Education

Turkey’s educational system separates into four brackets; pre-primary, primary, secondary, and higher education. Except for pre-primary and higher education, all are compulsory and divided into the 4-4-4, which requires four years of education for each child in each bracket, totalling 12 years altogether. Pre-primary teaches children between 3 to 5 years to develop their physical, mental, and sensory abilities and prepare them for primary education.

2: Primary Education

Primary education starts at age 5, and is free of charge in state schools for all Turkish citizens and foreign citizens. At this stage, children also learn a foreign language in grade four. Compulsory school uniforms ensure all children are treated equally. Moreover, if any child fails end of year exams, they must repeat that year before progressing. Primary education teaches children to become good citizens by preparing them with lifestyle habits and educating their interests. The four first years are grades 1 to 4, while the second runs on grades 5 to 8.

3: Secondary Education

Secondary education in Turkey covers vocational, technical, and general schools. The Turkish name is lise, and this level prepares children for higher levels of learning. Some schools specialise in a specific language, while others specialise in a particular field, like chemistry, construction, commercial, agricultural, or Animal Husbandry. Expectations are when the child leaves school, they will have sufficient skills to enter the workforce. Secondary education covers grades 9 to 12.

School library

Private Versus State Schools

Most significant cities have schools that accommodate all three levels of education. These can be checked on the MEB website of the Turkish Ministry of education. In rural districts, children usually get a school bus to the nearest town or city. Additionally, there are private schools run by associations or charitable trusts. They typically follow the Turkish curriculum and add their subjects and topics.

Whereas state schools are free of charge, private schools charge fees for tuition and boarding. Some also offer scholarships to students showing exceptional potential. Under the private school category, international schools offer lessons taught in a foreign language. Most students attending these have parents who work in Turkey but do not plan to stay long term. School applications for state schools are made online, followed by a personal visit. Parents send their kids to the nearest school for the first eight years, but the system changes at secondary education level, whereas children must gain a high score from state exams.

To apply for primary schools, parents need to supply ID cards for them and the child, proof of residence, vaccination certificates, and biometric photos. Some schools may also request a health exam. For secondary schools, schools also need copies of the student’s blood group.

For private or international schools, check their website for details of their application process and due dates and amounts for fees. The choice of schools is purely a personal one. Parents who plan to stay indefinitely in Turkey usually send their children to state schools, so they grow up with a like-minded company. They may follow it up with personal tuition after school with a private teacher visiting the home. This also works out cost-effective.

Parents who send children to international schools usually do so because they issue international recognised exam certificates. So, when the child eventually leaves Turkey, they can live and work in many countries. International and private schools offer more interaction with teachers and encourage involvement in the child’s academic year. Most international schools are in big cities like Izmir, Ankara, or Istanbul. Before choosing, research curriculum, costs, teacher-child ratio, and other factors that will help you decide which school system in Turkey suits your child.

Also About Turkey

Moving to Turkey With Children: Attracted by a low cost of living, we often receive enquiries from families who want to buy a home in Turkey to move to Turkey with children. A marvellous climate, friendly culture, outdoor lifestyle, gorgeous beaches, and healthy Turkish cuisine are perfect to raise a family. So, let us discuss common questions asked by parents and their answers.

Family Holidays in Turkey: Cities and beach resorts around Turkey gear up for kids of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers looking for excitement. Turkish culture embraces a family network; hence it appears in daily life. From delicious food to activities to childcare facilities, families always find their perfect idea of a summer holiday for the price they want to pay. This article gives hints, tips, and advice for booking a family getaway.

Fethiye in Turkey


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