I am writing from Gaziantep, a city of more than a million people in southeastern Turkey, one of the country’s most historic areas. Here, I visited an amazing after-school enrichment program – founded in 1995 by industrialists, managers, and academics and run quite competently by volunteers.
“Educational Volunteers Foundation of Turkey” (TEGV) is the largest nongovernmental organization in Turkey, a hands-on, minds-on program designed to boost in-school programs and deal with one of the country’s greatest challenges: educating its young people. In student achievement, Turkey ranks 31st of 32 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The attendance rate is quite low, and 90% of students stay in school for just six years. (In other OECD countries, students remain in school an average of 10 years – up to 14 years in most developed countries.)
TEGV is an aspirational program that creates and implements unique educational models with the help of volunteers that are carefully recruited and trained. Their motto is, “One child changes, Turkey changes.” I have to say that I was greatly inspired by my conversations with some of the volunteers and students, and with this example of the private sector sharing responsibility for education with the government.