Come on girls, be a bride!

The plan has only been presented this week, but when you say 4x4x4 these days in Turkey, everybody knows what it’s about: a new education law drafted by the AKP government.

The idea is to increase compulsory education from eight years to twelve years. Nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong with the way the AKP wants to do it. They want to create three blocks of four years: two blocks of four years for primary education (one from age 7 to 11, one from 11 to 15), and one block of four years for secondary education. Officially, there can be no break between the first and second block, but there are vague exceptions, and it will also be possible for kids to become apprentices after the first block, or to learn from home.


In practice, this means that girls will have a shorter school career. Now, compulsory education lasts eight years, starting at age 7. The AKP has managed to increase the number of girls enrolling in school, but not necessarily the number of girls graduating from primary education: there are many drop-outs. Girls are needed at home, or there is not enough money to send them to school, or they need to contribute to the family income. Or it’s about time they got married, or at least prepared for it.

What will the effect be of a new school system that makes it very easy to stop sending your girl to school after she has completed the first block, at age 11? It gives parents a logical moment to reconsider their choice of sending their daughters to school or not. When their daughters are eleven years old, they will have to choose whether or not to enrol them in the second block. In the current system, there is no such opportunity before the eight years of compulsory education are finished. Result: girls will drop out earlier.


Some people call the draft law the ‘Come on girls, be a bride!’ law. It’s a variation on the government slogan used for some time now: ‘Come on girls, let’s go to school!’. The new plan totally undermines all the efforts made to enroll more girls in school. The next step should be an effort to keep girls in school, encourage them to do well, convince their families of the benefits of education, convince the families of the negative effects of early marriage and early motherhood. The AKP seems to skip all that by introducing this plan.

Not only women’s organisations, but also the biggest and most powerful businessmen’s organisation TÜSIAD has called on the government to withdraw the plan. I sincerely hope the AKP for once will listen to its critics. And I hope it gives them a signal: the effect of laws on girls and women must always be considered. I am left wondering. Does the AKP aim at girls aged eleven leaving school, do they just don’t care, or do they totally not consider the effects laws have on girls?

3 replies
  1. TurkeyEmergency
    TurkeyEmergency says:

    During a meeting in the early days of the new republic, Atatürk, the source of most of Turkish problems according to Frederike, proclaimed:

    To the women: “Win for us the battle of education and you will do yet more for your country than we have been able to do. It is to you that I appeal.”

    To the men: “If henceforward the women do not share in the social life of the nation, we shall never attain to our full development. We shall remain irremediably backward, incapable of treating on equal terms with the civilizations of the West.”

  2. Fréderike Geerdink
    Fréderike Geerdink says:

    No TurkeyEmergency, I never said Atatürk is the source of most of Turkish problems. I never ever wrote that, I never said it either, I never even thought that. But Kemalism, yes, it has caused some of the biggest problems that Turkey is facing today. Ideologies are sometimes intended better than they turn out in practice. Kemalism is an example of it, like communism – and capitalism, for that matter.

  3. Candide
    Candide says:

    Good point TurkeyEmergency and Frederike yes you did not say it explicitly but meant it at least in :

    “Kemalism is not an ideology that serves democracy. On the contrary: besides not protecting it’s citizens, Kemalism for example orders ‘modernism’ (or what the state considers modern, which is pretty outdated by now and for example hampers freedom of religion) and nationalism (and thus excluses people). For decades, Turkey was a one party state ruled by the CHP. No opposition allowed, and Atatürk, who introduced changes 100% top down with no say for the people whatsoever, even executed people who opposed his vision – all for the sake of the country, of course.”

    Your defense is similar to Geert Wilder’s defense on the latest trial as he said he never targeted the followers of Islam but he targeted the Islam. Sorry but in Turkey we don’t give credits to politically correct words 😉

    Back to your article/blog : It is a nice one and I am happy to see that you touched to a general problem. As a note : majority of girls who drop school and become a bride at early age is coming from Kurdish families. It is interesting you did not mention it, particularly considering your interest in Kurds 🙂


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