During the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) governments, I guess nobody can say a single word about the development and public works activities. Projects on a scale never before seen in the country's history have been initiated and realized. Add to this bridges, dams, tunnels, roads, airports, schools, universities, foundation buildings and culturalcenters. You will end up with an enormous list of buildings and structures.
While we sat inside the mosque after the opening of the US's largest foreign Muslim center, the Diyanet Center, and spoke to Presidency of Religious Affairs head Mehmet Görmez, we all said: "Once upon a time it was a dream to build such buildings. Fortunately it came true. However, it is now more difficult to do justice to these buildings and fill them with qualified people.”
I have recently been discussing this problem with many ministers, mayors, rectors, foundation presidents, executives. Yes, we made great buildings, but we are having a problem filling them with local, national, qualified minds.
Erdoğan's observation is a criticism to all
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan touched on this matter in a statement he made at the Turkish Youth and Education Service Foundation's (TÜRGEV) general assembly yesterday. “We declared the new period as a period to focus on the school curriculum rather than opening schools. Unfortunately we are still yet to make the progress desired in the area of culture as well… We will not hesitate from making self-criticism,” he said.
The rate of opening schools, universities, culture centers, youth centers has probably reached a record high. However, just as raising people here and raising youth are not at the desired level, these buildings have also served the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). According to Erdoğan's observation, “Part of the youth are being gathered by the separatist terror organization. They are being poisoned, used and unfortunately dragged toward a bitter end.”
Greatest deficiency of the civil society
The situation in western provinces in really not that different. After all, there are serious problems raising human resources and investing in qualification. President Erdoğan personally expressed the problems of the Ministry of Education in this area.
But what about the others? What is the situation in buildings and structures that belong to municipalities, universities, foundations, associations and religious movements? Unfortunately quality and qualification are both suffering there too.
Back in the old days we had makeshift buildings, but they produced many successful intellectuals, men of letters, teachers, hodjas, journalists, producers. Now, unfortunately, we have very unqualified people coming out of extremely flashy buildings. Our universities, media, cultural centers have turned into buildings of signs; they do not produce bright minds.
Why the fall in qualification?
We need to find the cause of the qualification problem and discuss it, conduct self-criticism without fear. It is true, we are criticizing the presence of unqualified and incompetent people at the head of many institutions today. If one reason for this is the string pulling problem to have one's “own person,” the other reason is that nongovernmental organizations and foundations no longer raise competent human resources.
Politicized nongovernmental organizations using their energy more for political activities rather than for raising people is, I believe, at the top of the biggest problems.
Everyone's eyes and ears are on Erdoğan. They are positioning themselves according to what he will say. Yet I don't think those who have their eyes and ears on Erdoğan have their mind focused on what he says. Because he regularly talks about raising people, raising a local and national generation, raising cadres that will lift their country. This is what he requests, but whether his addressees take serious steps in this direction is debatable.
Turkey ispoor in qualified human resources
As one of the world's 20 biggest countries, Turkey does not have the mechanisms to raise the human resources it needs. This bitter truth needs to be seen and discussed. The education policies of universities must urgently be brought to the table, such as the Ministry of Education's curriculum. Instead of opening new universities, the High Education Board (YÖK) reform that was not possible before should be made.
The issue is not Ankara or the government's issue alone. Everybody who is talking about a great movement, a great walk and the 2023 goal, needs to leave aside heroism and seriously focus on institutionalization and raising human resources.
We built buildings, but they should not be left empty. Now, to fill them, civilians alongside the government also need to take serious action.