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Turkey Triples Budget For Islamist-Controlled Education Foundation

March 3rd, 2021 13:37

Balkan media is report­ing that the Maarif Foun­da­tion, a Turk­ish gov­ern­ment inter­na­tion­al edu­ca­tion foun­da­tion, has had its bud­get tripled for 2021. Accord­ing to the Balkan Insight report:

Feb­ru­ary 5, 2021 Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Recep Tayyip Erdo­gan has ordered a 300-per-cent increase in the bud­get of the Maarif Foun­da­tion, which was set up in part to replace the schools and col­leges linked to his exiled arch-ene­my, Fethul­lah Gulen. The pres­i­den­tial decree hik­ing the Maarif Foun­da­tion bud­get was pub­lished in the Offi­cial Gazette on Thurs­day. Its annu­al bud­get is now 1.23 bil­lion lira, or about 140 mil­lion euros. This mon­ey will come from the gen­er­al bud­get of the Edu­ca­tion Min­istry, MEB. The Maarif Foun­da­tion was opened in 2016 – a month before the failed coup attempt which Erdo­gan has blamed on Fethul­lah Gulen, who has lived in self-exile in the US since 1999. The huge increase in fund­ing has drawn crit­i­cism in Turkey, with some call­ing a waste of mon­ey at a time when Turkey’s domes­tic edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem is suf­fer­ing from the effects of the pan­dem­ic and eco­nom­ic hardship.

Read the rest here.

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 as a means to reduce assim­i­la­tion among the Turk­ish dias­po­ra. The Maarif Foun­da­tion oper­ates in over 100 coun­tries glob­al­ly, includ­ing the EU, USA, and Aus­tralia. Its board mem­bers include 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.

All three of the above are also part of the high advi­so­ry board of the Turkey Youth Foun­da­tion (TÜGVA) along­side Pres­i­dent Erdoğan­s’s son Bilal. As GIOR recent­ly report­ed, the TÜGVA has start­ed a “media lit­er­a­cy project” to teach youth in the Euro­pean dias­po­ra about rec­og­niz­ing “fake news and dis­in­for­ma­tion” against Turkey.