Turkish media is reporting that the Maarif Foundation’s budget has grown severalfold since 2017. According to the soL report:
December 10th, 2021: While the 2022 budget of the Maarif Foundation is projected to be 1 billion 389 million TL, this figure has increased by 752 percent compared to 2017. The Ministry of National Education announced the number of operating countries as 61 and the number of schools as 402.[…] The 752 percent growth was attributed to the “exchange rate”. The salary paid by the foundation, which has a conflict of authority with the National Education Ministry, for the personnel it sent abroad drew attention. The foundation management said that the lower limit of the salary of foreign personnel, which it stated is determined “according to the economic conditions of the countries in which they operate”, is 2,887 dollars and the upper limit is 6,637 dollars. It was reported that the total number of personnel of the foundation abroad is 438. According to the news of Mustafa Bildircin from Birgün, the Maarif Foundation, which is the only institution other than the Ministry of National Education with the authority to open educational institutions abroad, and which has many names close to the government under its management, received 163 million TL in 2017, 270 million TL in 2018, 422 million TL in 2019, 684 million TL in 2020 and 1.2 billion TL in 2021. [Translated by Google with edits]
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The Turkish government founded the Maarif Foundation (Türkiye Maarif Vakfı) ostensibly to provide education, dormitories, and scholarships abroad, from pre-school to higher education, and raise a “Turkey-friendly youth.” It was also intended to take over schools run by supporters of Fethullah Gülen, which Turkey blames for its 2016 coup. Zafer Sırakaya, Istanbul AKP MP and AKP Deputy Chairman of Foreign Relations has identified the Maarif Foundation as an element of Turkey’s soft power and a means to reduce assimilation among the Turkish diaspora. The Maarif Foundation operates in over 100 countries globally. Its board members have included many AKP officials, as well as:
- Selim Cerrah, a co-founder and vice president of Cihannüma, an association that has hosted Hamas leaders, including Khaled Meshaal.
- Osman Nuri Kabaktepe (Vice President Maarif Foundation) was a vice president of Cihannüma and a member of the high advisory board of the International Muslim Scholars Association, which has called itself the Turkish branch of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.
- Ayşen Gürcan has been a Chief Advisor to President Erdoğan.
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