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Turkish Educational Context

Since the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, “education” has always been conceived as a means of keeping up with the modern age and its world view. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Turkish Republic, invited John Dewey to Turkey and asked him to help with establishing a democratic educational system in the country and educating teachers for the desired democratic society (Ata, 2000; Onkol & Tan, 2005; Turan, 2000 Wolf-Gazo, 1996). Since 1924, Turkish educational system is centralized and the Ministry of National Education (MONE) is the main body for planning, programming, executing, monitoring and controlling all educational services from development of school curricula to appointments of teachers at primary and secondary school levels (Binbasioglu, 1995).The ultimate goal of the Turkish educational system is stated as follows:


“…to raise students as highly skilful individuals who have improved thinking, perceiving and problem solving abilities, are open to universal values and new ideas, have a strong national culture, personal feelings of responsibility and social sensitivity, are committed to Atatürk's nationalism and Atatürk's principles and revolution and are inclined to production of technology and science” (MONE, 2002, www.meb.gov.tr).


In Turkey, there have been continuous attempts and reform movements undertaken to realize the ultimate goal in the field of education. Certainly, being a candidate member of European Union (EU) has also accelerated the Turkey’s educational reform movements. Over the decades, the dramatic increases have been observed in the number of schools, the enrolment rate of students; the number of universities; expenditure on education (MONE,2009a). Besides, eight-year basic compulsory education was started to be implemented in 1997.

As far as curricular changes and revisions concerned, the major changes made in Turkish elementary mathematics curriculum are dated in 1924, 1936, 1948, 1962, 1968, 1982, 1993, 1998 as a result of continuous revision movements and of changes in the economical, political, and social structures of the Turkish society (Koc, Isiksal & Bulut, 2007). During the 2004-05 school year, the last revision made on elementary school curriculum including the subject of mathematics, science, social science, life science, and Turkish was used as one of the attempts to improve the quality of education. The nation-wide implementation of the new elementary school curricula (1st -5th grades) was started in the 2005-06 school year, after pilot testing for an academic year in 9 different provinces of Turkey.

The new curriculum was developed in line with the national needs and values, contemporary scientific studies, national and international evaluation reports, and also current developments in the field of education (MONE, 2009b). Besides, Turkey’s candidacy for EU accession and Turkish students’ poor performance both in national and international studies have also been influential in developmental actions (Aksit, 2007; Babadogan & Olkun, 2006; Erbas & Ulubay, 2008; Koc, Isiksal & Bulut, 2007). It is aimed to create student-centered classroom environments in which active participation of students, use of different instructional methods and strategies, integration of different topics, subjects, and disciplines that are required for the establishment of constructivist way of learning (MONE, 2009b). Overall, the striking shifts of the new curriculum can be explained as moving to a more learner-centered curriculum and to a more constructivist way of learning.



Turkish Mathematics Curriculum for Grades 1-8


Turkish Mathematics Curriculum (TMC) is based on the principle that ‘Every child can learn mathematics’. In the TMC, special attention is given to development of students’ conceptual knowledge and problem solving skills, along with procedural knowledge. Further, the relationships between conceptual and procedural knowledge are strongly underlined. In this conceptually-driven approach, “learning mathematics with understanding” is the primary goal to be achieved by all students (MONE, 2009b).

In the TMC, creating such learning environments in which students learn mathematics through investigations, discoveries, problem solving activities, sharing and discussing their ideas is emphasized. It is also important for students to see the aesthetical and enjoyable aspect of learning mathematics. While teaching the concepts and skills of mathematics, students’ previous knowledge and experiences are considered as the beginning point for their current and future learning. Thus, providing opportunities for students to construct their own knowledge based on what they knew and experienced is very important in the TMC (MONE, 2009b). The connections between mathematics and daily life are also taken into consideration to make mathematics more meaningful for the students.


With regard to the subjects, the TMC covers four main learning areas, namely, numbers, geometry, data and measurement. Besides, problem solving, communication, reasoning and connections are determined as the basic skills embedded in the main learning areas as indicated in the figure.


Moreover, the perspective of assessment of students’ learning is also changed in a way that students are measured not only in terms of cognitive outcomes, but also affective and psychomotor outcomes. Therefore, the TMC offers use of various assessment methods such as portfolios, projects, anecdotes, self evaluation reports, multiple choice tests, performance assessments, rubrics, mathematics diaries, observations and attitude scales. In this respect, the assessment techniques offered are used for both formative and summative purposes. Overall, the constructivist way of learning is reflected in every aspect of the TMC (Babadogan & Olkun, 2006).


The site of the Turkish Ministry of National Education is:

http://www.meb.gov.tr/ (in Turkish)

http://www.meb.gov.tr/english/indexeng.htm (in English)

Turkish Mathematics Curriculum for Grades 1-5 (in Turkish)


Turkish Mathematics Curriculum for Grades 6-8 (in Turkish)


Turkish Mathematics Curriculum for Grades 9-12 (in Turkish)





Aksit, N. (2007). Educational reform in Turkey. International Journal of Educational Development, 27(2007), 129–137.

Ata, B. (2001). An American educator, John Dewey's journey to Turkey under the light of 1924 Turkish Press. G.Ü. Gazi E?itim Fakültesi Dergisi, 21( 3),193-207.

Babado?an, C. & Olkun, S. (2006). Program development models and reform in Turkish primary school mathematics curriculum. International Journal for Mathematics Teaching and Learning (April 13). [Online]: http://www.cimt.plymouth.ac.uk/journal/default.htm.

Binbasioglu, C. (1995) Türkiye’de e?itim bilimleri tarihi (History of Turkish educational sciences). The series of research and examination. Ankara, Turkey: MEB Publication.

Erbas, A., K. & Ulubay, M. (2008). Implementation of the new Turkish primary education mathematics curriculum in the sixth grade: A survey of teachers’ views. The New Educational Review, 16 (3-4), 51-76.

Koc, Y., Isiksal, M., & Bulut, S.(2007). The elementary school curriculum reform in Turkey. International Education Journal, 8, (2007),30-39.

Ministry of National Education [MONE] (2009a). National education statistics formal education 2008-2009. Ankara, Turkey: MONE (http://sgb.meb.gov.tr/istatistik/meb_istatistikleri_ orgun_egitim_2008_2009.pdf)

Ministry of National Education [MONE] (2009b) Ilkogretim Matematik Dersi (1-5 siniflar) Ogretim Programi Taslagi [Elementary School Mathematics Curriculum Guide (grades 1-5)]. Ankara, Turkey: MONE (Online access www.ttkb.meb.gov.tr/ogretmen)

Onkol, P. & Tan, G. (2005). A steep road to EU: The role of Turkish public libraries in lifelong learning. Adult perspective. Paper presented at International Conference on Lifelong Learning in the Balkans: A Historical Context and Current Trends, 1-3 July, 2005, Belgrade – Serbia and Montenegro.

Turan, S. (2000). John Dewey’s report of 1924 and his recommendations on the Turkish education system revisited, History of Education, 29 (6), 543-555.

Wolf-Gazo, E. (1996). John Dewey in Turkey: An educational mission. Journal of American Studies of Turkey, 3 (1996), 15-42.


Prepared by Dr. Gulcin Tan Sisman for the Database Project by ICMI, May 2011

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