Education in Turkey

This guide will look at Turkish education - how to prepare, what kind of schools there are, how to choose one, and all the bits and bobs that go along with educating your children.

Introduction

Your children will have a great time living in Turkey. Because of the climate and the freedom that children still enjoy in a country largely free of crime, they will probably lead a far more active and outdoor life than they would have done in your own country. Turks, and especially Turkish children, are very friendly and inquisitive about new foreign classmates and neighbours, with the result that your children will probably make friends quickly. This is one of the advantages of there being relatively few foreign children in the country.

Of course, by making friends they will also learn the language. It is not at all uncommon for children aged four or five to be able to converse in Turkish within a couple of months of their arrival in Turkey, and to become thoroughly proficient within 12 months. Older children can expect to be speaking Turkish perfectly within a couple of years.

Video guide to education in Turkey

You can get a quick overview of schooling and education in Turkey by watching this video interview (below) with Turkish lawyer Başak Yıldız Orkun. Learn more by scrolling down and reading the detailed guide she has written with us.

Preparation for sending your child to school in Turkey

It is not all freedom. Your children will have to go to school. To make the transition to school as painless as possible, there are five things that you should do before you bring your children to Turkey:

  • Obtain a full copy of their academic record (from back home). Exactly what your educators will be able to give you will vary depending on where you live but they will know or have access to the information about what is needed, and it is usually simple to procure this documentation
  • Obtain official copies of all their examination certificates and other qualifications
  • Obtain a full copy of your child’s health records. The school in Turkey may or may not wish to see these. Strangely, they have the right to do so – but it seems to be exercised less and less frequently
  • Investigate the schools available in the area where you think you’re going to be living. You will usually not be able to make an application for a place (except at one of the international schools) until the school has met you and your child; but most schools in an area have very similar requirements when it comes to the documents you’ll need you to produce for registration, so you should be able to find out what these are
  • Gather together all the documents you’re likely to require, erring on the side of caution. It’s better to have a document and not to need it than to have to send back home for it once you have arrived in Turkey.

Should you have all these things translated into Turkish?

The infuriating thing is that there is no guarantee which, if any, of these documents will need to be translated, so it is probably best to travel to Turkey and then arrange for the documents actually requested to be translated. This is usually the cheapest solution.

You should, strictly speaking, use an official, certified translator for this purpose but this is not often necessary in practice, provided the Turkish translation is clear. However, once again, given the cost of translation and the time it takes, it is probably better to have the documents translated by an official translator. Your lawyer should be able to suggest one.

If you decide to have things translated before your move, translators are used to receiving documents by email and then translating them for people who are not yet resident in the country.

As the stack of documents you’re going to want translating could be quite substantial, you can expect translation to cost you quite a lot of money. Different types of documents incur different levels of charge but if you think about something like US$30-50 per page as an average, you’ll get some idea of the sums involved.

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