Religious Education

In 1927, all courses concerning religion were excluded from the curriculum of primary, secondary, and high schools on the basis that non-Muslims also live in Turkey. Between 1927 and 1949, religious instruction was not permitted in schools. In 1949, the Ministry of Education allowed a course on religion in 4th and 5th grades of primary school.

In 1956, as a result of multi-party democracy, a new government was established. Being more sympathetic towards the religious sentiments of society, this new government introduced a religion course into secondary schools. This time, if the parents wanted to exempt their children from the course, they had to apply to the school with a written request. After nearly ten years, in 1967, the religion course was introduced to the 1st and 2nd grades of high school. Students, however, were enrolled for the course with the written request of their parents. In 1975, the course was extended to the third (last) grade of the high schools. And, finally, following the military coup in 1980, the religion course became schools was also constitutionally secured. The exact title of the course was, "The Culture of Religion and Knowledge of Ethics."

In 1985, the Institute for Creation Research, a United States creationist group, helped advise Turkey's education minister Vehbi Dinçerler on how to introduce creationism in high schools. Turkish academics have stated that the resulting ignorance of evolution led to Turkey coming last in a survey that measured knowledge of evolution in 34 industrialised nations.

Currently, religious education courses begin at the 4th grade (age10) of primary school and continues throughout secondary and high schools. From the 4th to the 8th grade, classes consist of two hours per week. At the high school level, there is one hour of class per week Thus, a student who has graduated from high school receives 8 continuous years of religion courses. There are no fixed books for the course. Rather, each school decides which book to follow--provided that the book for each level is approved by the Ministry of Education. Nearly half of the content of these courses concerns religion and Islam (whom majority are Muslims) with remaining topics ranging from secularism to humanism and from ethical values to etiquette. The major world religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism are included in the content of the course.