En un món en què una de cada tres dones arreu del món ha patit violència física o sexual; on, cada hora, cinc dones són assassinades per un membre familiar i on les dades evidencien que l’assetjament i violència sexual són fets generalitzats, és d’extrema importància que la comunitat global actuï. Broken Chalk reconeix la urgència d’adreçar la generalització de la violència masclista, que també es veu reflectida en l’àmbit educatiu, on l’assetjament i la violència sexual són una realitat. A més, les nenes arreu del món sovint troben obstacles per accedir a l’educació a conseqüència del matrimoni infantil, la violència domèstica, o la violència que pateixen de camí cap a l’escola.
Havent empitjorat amb la pandèmia de la COVID-19, els efectes socioeconòmics del canvi climàtic, la crisi econòmica i la inestabilitat política, la violència té un efecte directe en la seva educació, impedint la realització dels seus drets fonamentals. El risc de patir violència també descoratja als pares d’enviar les filles a l’escola, sobre tot en situacions de conflicte, on durant el trajecte a l’escola pateixen per la possibilitat de que puguin ser assetjades i abduïdes. També s’ha demostrat empíricament que víctimes d’abús són més propenses a l’abandonament escolar i a mostrar dificultats pedagògiques. Això posa en risc la igualtat de gènere, la independència i l’empoderament de futures generacions de dones.
Davant d’aquest escenari, és esquinçador observar el fet que només un 0,2% de l’Assistència Global al Desenvolupament va dirigit a la prevenció de la violència de gènere. És per aquest motiu que Broken Chalk reconeix l’impacte profund de la violència envers les dones i nenes, que va més enllà del dany físic i afecta els fonaments de la societat, posant en risc el desenvolupament igualitari i la pau.
La violència envers les dones i nenes té un cost social en general, i en concret en l’educació de les nenes. És per això que és una prioritat en l’àmbit educatiu. En primer lloc, s’ha demostrat que l’exposició a la violència domèstica i violència de gènere té efectes negatius en els resultats acadèmics dels infants, així com el desenvolupament del seu comportament. De fet, UNICEF relaciona la violència domèstica amb nivells més baixos d’aptituds numèriques en les edats dels 5 als 8 anys. En segon lloc, la violència envers les dones és un dels motius pels quals les nenes no poden accedir a l’educació: arreu del món, 129 milió de nenes no van a l’escola. La manca de seguretat a les escoles o l’estigma social després de patir violència sexual són dos dels motius. Les nenes i les dones que pateixen violència psicològica també poden patir abandonament escolar per la coerció i l’abús exercit sobre elles.
Broken Chalk també reconeix la generalització de l’assetjament com a forma de violència envers les dones. A la Unió Europea, entre el 45 i el 55% de les dones n’han patit des dels 15 anys. A Anglaterra i Gal·les, un estudi del 2021 va revelar que el 92% de nenes i noies estudiants afirmaven haver rebut insults sexistes per part de companys de classe, i el 61% d’estudiants femenines deien haver patit violència sexual per part dels seus companys a l’escola. La potencial amenaça de patir violència a l’escola o de camí cap a l’escola desmotiva les nenes d’anar-hi, per la seva pròpia seguretat. A països com Ghana i l’Índia, s’està experimentant amb programes que donen bicicletes a les nenes perquè tinguin un mitjà de transport segur per anar cap a classe.
Tot i que s’ha avançat en la lluita contra la violència masclista, els fets exposats demostren que encara cal invertir en més mesures. Broken Chalk defensa que l’educació és crucial per eliminar la violència envers les dones i les nenes, ja que els estudis demostren que és precisament en l’àmbit educatiu on els infants estan exposats a la violència i l’aprenen. D’aquesta manera, l’educació pot ensenyar i conscienciar sobre què és la violència. La violència envers les dones és un fenomen tan generalitzat que sovint qui en pateix no se n’adona que no és una situació normal. Això explica, només en part, perquè menys de 40% de dones que pateixen violència demanen ajuda o ho denuncien.
És per aquest motiu que Broken Chalk s’uneix als 16 Dies d’Activisme envers la violència de gènere, una campanya internacional celebrada anualment des del 25 de Novembre, com a motiu del Dia Internacional de l’Eliminació de la Violència envers les Dones, fins al 10 de Desembre, que celebra el Dia Internacional dels Drets Humans. Sota el tema d’enguany “UNITE! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls” (invertir per prevenir la violència envers les dones i les nenes), Broken Chalk s’uneix a la demanda d’inversió urgent per prevenir aquesta violència, amb un focus especial en el rol de l’educació. A més, Broken Chalk demana una perspectiva interseccional en la lluita contra la violència envers les dones, especialment per entendre les dificultats afegides a les experiències de dones racialitzades i dones LGBTI tant en contexts educatius com en el seu dia a dia.
Broken Chalk ho anuncia al públic amb el degut respecte.
Broken Chalk Traduït per Maria Tapias Serrano a partir del comunicat original en anglès.
I en värld där 1 av 3 kvinnor globalt har upplevt fysiskt eller sexuellt våld, där fem kvinnor dödas varje timme av någon från sin egen familj, och där bevis tyder på att sexuella trakasserier är skämmande utbredda, är det av yttersta vikt för det Internationella samfundet att agera. Broken Chalk ser det brådskande behovet av att ta itu med det genomträngande problemet med könsbaserat våld, vilket också återspeglas i utbildningssammanhang. I skolor är sexuella trakasserier och psykologisk mobbning en utbredd verklighet; flickor hindras från att genomföra sin utbildning på grund av barnäktenskap och våld i sina egna hem eller våld på väg till skolan.
Förvärrat av de samverkande effekterna av COVID-19-pandemin, klimatförändringar, ekonomiska kriser och politisk instabilitet har detta våld en direkt påverkan på deras utbildning, vilket hindrar deras njutning av mänskliga rättigheter. Risken för våld avskräcker föräldrar från att skicka flickor till skolan, särskilt i konfliktsituationer, där de under sin resa till skolan fruktar möjligheten till överfall och bortförande. Det är empiriskt bevisat att offer för övergrepp har mycket högre avhopp och svårigheter att lära sig. Det utgör ett allvarligt hot mot könsjämställdhet och stärkandet av kommande generationer kvinnor.
I denna situation är det nedslående att observera det faktum att endast 0,2% av det globala officiella utvecklingsbiståndet riktas mot förebyggande av könsbaserat våld. Därför anser Broken Chalk att påverkan av våld mot kvinnor och flickor (VAWG) är djupgående och sträcker sig bortom fysisk skada för att påverka samhällets grundvalar och hindra utveckling, ojämlikhet och fred.
VAWG har en kostnad för samhället i allmänhet och flickors utbildning i synnerhet, och det förblir därför en utbildningsprioritet. För det första har exponering för våld från en intim partner, eller hushållsvåld, dokumenterade negativa effekter på barns akademiska prestationer och beteendemässiga utfall. UNICEF rapporterar att det är kopplat till lägre ordförråd och numeriska färdigheter i åldrarna 5 till 8. För det andra utgör våld mot kvinnor en av faktorerna varför flickor inte kan få tillgång till utbildning: över hela världen är 129 miljoner flickor utan skolplats. Personlig osäkerhet i skolan eller social stigmatisering och skam efter att ha upplevt sexuellt våld förklarar delvis detta. Flickor och kvinnor som upplever psykologiskt våld kan också vara utan skola som ett resultat av påtryckningar på dem.
Broken Chalk erkänner också trakasseriets genomslagskraft som en form av våld mot kvinnor. I Europeiska unionen har 45 till 55% av kvinnor upplevt sexuella trakasserier sedan 15 års ålder. I England och Wales visade en utredning 2021 att 92% av kvinnliga studenter bekräftade att de hade fått sexistiska kommenterar från sina skolkamrater, och 61% av kvinnliga studenter rapporterade att de hade upplevt sexuella trakasserier mellan kamrater i skolan. Risken att uppleva våld i skolan eller på väg till skolan kan avskräcka flickor från att delta i utbildningen. För att svara på detta har flera länder som Ghana och Indien experimenterat med program som tillhandahåller cyklar till flickor för att erbjuda ett säkrare transportalternativ till skolan.
Även om arbete har lagts ned på att eliminera VAWG så visar ovanstående fakta att mycket mer arbete behövs. Broken Chalk tror att utbildning är avgörande för att arbeta mot elimineringen av VAWG, eftersom många studier har visat att det är just i utbildningsmiljön där barn exponeras för våld och där dem lär sig det. Därför är utbildning ett kraftfullt verktyg som kan användas för att förändra kulturen som lär unga och påverkningsbara sinnen hur man beter sig mot flickor och kvinnor på våldsamma sätt till mer fredliga och respektfulla sätt. Dessutom kan utbildning användas för att lära flickor angående våld och höja medvetenheten om vad som utgör våld, något som många flickor inte ens kan börja förstå. På detta sätt är VAWG så normaliserat globalt att offren ibland inte ens inser att deras rättigheter kränks. Detta har en roll i att mindre än 40% av kvinnor som upplever våld söker hjälp av något slag eller rapporterar det, eller finner rättvisa.
Det är av denna anledning som Broken Chalk ansluter sig till de 16 dagarna av aktivism mot könsbaserat våld, vilket är en årlig internationell kampanj som börjar den 25 november, Internationella dagen för avskaffandet av våld mot kvinnor, och varar fram till Mänskliga rättigheternas dag den 10 december. Årets kampanjtema är “ENAS! Investera för att förebygga våld mot kvinnor och flickor”, och Broken Chalk ansluter sig till rörelsen och uppmanar till brådskande investeringar för att förebygga VAWG, med särskild fokus på utbildning för att göra detta. Broken Chalk uppmanar att man tar utbrett perspektiv i utförandet av elimineringen av VAWG. speciellt för att ökaförståelse kring svårigheter och attacker som mörka kvinnor och LGTBQ+ kvinnor utsätts för under deras utbildningar samt vardagliga liv.
Broken Chalk publicerar detta till allmänheten med hänsyn.
In einer Welt, in der nach wie vor eine in drei Frauen körperliche oder sexuelle Gewalt erfahren hat, in der im Durchschnitt fünf Frauen pro Stunde von Familienmitgliedern getötet werden und in der sexuelle Belästigung alarmierend weit verbreitet ist, ist es für die Weltgemeinschaft von größter Bedeutung, akute Maßnahmen zu ergreifen. Broken Chalk ist sich der dringenden Notwendigkeit bewusst, das allgegenwärtige Problem der geschlechtsspezifischen Gewalt anzugehen, welches sich auch im Bildungskontext widerspiegelt. In Schulen sind sexuelle Belästigung und Mobbing eine weit verbreitete Realität; Mädchen werden durch Kinderheirat und Gewalt in ihrem eigenen Zuhause sowie auf dem Schulweg an der Fortsetzung ihrer Ausbildung gehindert.
Verschärft durch die Auswirkungen der COVID-19-Pandemie, des Klimawandels, der Wirtschaftskrisen und der politischen Instabilität, wirkt sich diese Gewalt unmittelbar auf die Bildung aus und behindert Mädchen bei der Wahrnehmung ihrer Menschenrechte. Außerdem hält die Gefahr von Gewalt Eltern davon ab Mädchen zur Schule zu schicken, insbesondere in Konfliktsituationen, aus Angst vor potenziellen Übergriffen und Entführungen auf dem Schulweg. Zusätzlich führen Studien zufolge Erfahrungen von Missbrauch deutlich häufiger zu Schulabbrüchen und Lernschwierigkeiten. Dies stellt eine ernsthafte Bedrohung für die Geschlechtergleichstellung und die Stärkung der Rolle der kommenden Frauengenerationen dar.
Vor diesem Hintergrund ist es erschreckend zu sehen, dass nur 0,2 % der weltweiten öffentlichen Entwicklungshilfen für die Prävention geschlechtsspezifischer Gewalt verwendet werden. Broken Chalk betont daher, dass die Auswirkungen von Gewalt gegen Frauen und Mädchen tiefgreifend sind und über körperliche Schäden hinausgehen. Sie beeinträchtigen die Grundlagen der Gesellschaft und behindern Gleichheit, Entwicklung und Frieden der Menschen.
Gewalt gegen Frauen und Mädchen verursacht gravierende Folgen für die Gesellschaft im Allgemeinen und für die Bildung von Mädchen im Besonderen, weshalb ihr anhaltend Priorität zugeschrieben werden muss. Zum einen hat das Erfahren von Gewalt in der Partnerschaft oder häuslicher Gewalt nachweislich negative Auswirkungen auf die schulischen Leistungen und das Verhalten von Kindern. Besonders ein geringerer Wortschatz und eingeschränkte Rechenfähigkeiten im Alter von 5 bis 8 Jahren können damit in Zusammenhang gebracht werden, so UNICEF. Des Weiteren ist Gewalt gegen Frauen ein ausschlaggebender Faktor, der Mädchen den Zugang zu Bildung verwehrt: Weltweit gehen 129 Millionen Mädchen nicht zur Schule. Persönliche Unsicherheit in der Schule oder soziale Stigmatisierung und Scham bestehen als Folgen nach Erfahrungen von sexueller Gewalt. Auch für Mädchen und Frauen, die psychische Gewalt erfahren, kann dies einen Grund darstellen nicht weiter die Schule zu besuchen.
Broken Chalk deutet ebenfalls darauf hin, dass Belästigung eine weit verbreitete Form der Gewalt gegen Frauen ist. In der Europäischen Union haben 45 bis 55 % der Frauen seit ihrem 15. Lebensjahr sexuelle Belästigung erlebt. In England und Wales ergab eine Untersuchung im Jahr 2021, dass 92 % der Schülerinnen bestätigten, von ihren Mitschülern sexistisch beschimpft zu werden, und 61 % der Schülerinnen berichteten, dass sie in der Schule von Gleichaltrigen sexuell belästigt wurden. Die potenzielle Gefahr, in der Schule oder auf dem Schulweg belästigt zu werden, könnte Mädchen davon abhalten, zur Schule zu gehen. Um dem entgegenzuwirken, haben mehrere Länder, wie Ghana und Indien, Pilotprogramme eingeleitet, bei denen Mädchen Fahrräder zur Verfügung gestellt werden, um einen sichereren Schulweg zu gewährleisten.
Obwohl bereits wichtige Schritte im Kampf gegen Gewalt gegen Frauen erreicht werden konnte, zeigen die oben genannten Fakten, dass noch viel mehr getan werden muss. Broken Chalk unterstreicht dabei, dass Bildung für die Beseitigung von Gewalt gegen Frauen und Mädchen von entscheidender Bedeutung ist. Viele Studien zeigen, dass Kinder gerade im schulischen Umfeld mit Gewalt konfrontiert werden. Daher ist Bildung und Kultur ein wichtiges Mittel, um junge Menschen zu einem gewaltfreien und respektvollen Umgang mit Mädchen und Frauen zu beeinflussen. Darüber hinaus kann Bildung auch genutzt werden, um ein besseres Bewusstsein für Gewalt bei den Opfern zu schaffen. Gewalt gegen Frauen wird weltweit so normalisiert, dass viele Opfer die Verletzung ihrer Rechte nicht einmal wahrnehmen. Weniger als 40 % der Frauen die Gewalt erleben ersuchen Hilfe, oder erheben eine Anzeige, um Gerechtigkeit zu erfahren.
Aus diesem Grund beteiligt sich Broken Chalk an den 16 Tagen des Aktivismus gegen geschlechtsspezifische Gewalt. Die jährliche internationalen Kampagne beginnt am 25. November, dem Internationalen Tag zur Beseitigung von Gewalt gegen Frauen, und endet am Tag der Menschenrechte, am 10. Dezember. Das diesjährige Motto der Kampagne lautet “UNITE! Investieren, um Gewalt gegen Frauen und Mädchen zu verhindern”. Broken Chalk schließt sich der Bewegung an und fordert sofortige Maßnahmen zur Verhinderung von Gewalt gegen Frauen und Mädchen. Dabei legt Broken Chalk einen besonderen Schwerpunkt auf Bildung. Darüber hinaus ruft Broken Chalk dazu auf, eine intersektionelle Perspektive bei der Arbeit zur Bekämpfung von Gewalt gegen Frauen einzunehmen. Die soll insbesondere ein Bewusstsein für zusätzlichen Schwierigkeiten, denen besonders POC-Frauen und LGTBQ+-Frauen sowohl in ihrer Ausbildung als auch in ihrem täglichen Leben ausgesetzt sind, schaffen.
Broken Chalk teilt dies der Öffentlichkeit in gebührendem Respekt mit.
Finland has impressed many other nations with its exceptionally high in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores. It is a test designed to evaluate the reading, math, and science knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students in the participating countries. It evaluates not only memorization, but also the students’ ability to apply school knowledge to real life situations. This makes PISA scores a reliable metric for education. PISA is conducted every three years, and it started in 2000. That year, Finland scored at the top in all three (reading, math, science) categories. This was undoubtedly very impressive, and it led to representatives and education professionals around the world visiting Finland to learn what their magic trick was. This phenomenon was even given a name: PISA tourism. Some of the unique traits of the Finnish education system were praised, such as its pupil-led, less teacher-centric approach. According to some, however, Finland maintained its traditional education system, which came with more robust testing and more centralized education until the 1990s, which would’ve yielded the high scores of PISA 2000.
Throughout the subsequent four assessments (2003, 2006, 2009, and 2012), however, a sharp decline was observed in Finland’s PISA scores, leading many to wonder what went wrong. It now scores below average among the 38 OECD states. Interestingly, there wasn’t a consensus on how its scores were high in the first place, and the explanations for the decline are also diverse. Some commonly cited reasons have included “over-digitalization” of the classroom, decline in student mental health, increased role families’ social backgrounds play, inadequate accommodation for the gifted students, budget cuts, and too much bureaucracy. The achievement levels for Finnish boys are also significantly lower than their female peers. Finnish education system remains distinctive, and the teachers are highly respected for the role they played in the Finnish state-building project in the 1970s and 1980s. A master’s degree is required to become a teacher, and due to their rigorous training, even private companies seek to hire them. We will delve into some of the challenges in the Finnish education system.
Difficulty of the Classes, or the Lack Thereof
One of the features of the Finnish education system is its ability to tailor the difficulty of education to individual students’ cognitive abilities. Some argue that this is a strength, others favour standardization. Its ability to support high-achieving students, however, is poor. Pentti, a teacher, says that the Finnish system cannot yet “adequately take care of those students who are gifted in a certain subject.” This issue has partially been addressed by allowing students who do well in maths to focus more on maths. However, this hasn’t been implemented in all Finnish schools.
As with the improvement in Asian countries’ PISA scores while Finland’s were in decline, some have compared both systems. Some have argued that while Finland lowers the difficulty of instruction for students who appears to have hard time catching up; Asian countries who participate in PISA expect all students to catch up to the same standards, leading to improvement in their PISA scores.
Budget Cuts, Social Background, and the Gender Gap in Achievement
Budget cuts followed the illusion of “infallibility” of the Finnish education. Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish education expert, argues that governments tended to cut education budgets following the 2008 global financial crisis, expecting oil-rich countries from the Middle East to keep paying for the “PISA tourism”. Years of budget cuts eventually led to shortage of teachers in some areas. This will increasingly affect especially children with autism and special needs. Bonuses, including sign-up bonuses, are now being offered to special education teachers.
Cuts to education budget following the 1990s recession have also manifested in delay, according to a research report by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. The reports states that ”differences in learning outcomes related to the social background have become more pronounced than earlier.” Immigrant students are also struggling in several other ways. They don’t know how to exert their rights in school and generally, it’s not even encouraged. They face racist bullying and not enough is done for their healthy integration into the society. They’re encouraged to seek professions their teachers “see fit” for their ethnicity. The report by the Finnish ministry states that immigrant kids in Finland “had the lowest reading scores in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or OECD”.
There’s a significant gender gap in school achievement. On average, boys in PISA countries fare worse than their female peers. This issue is especially present in Finland. Finnish boys receive average marks for reading, whereas Finnish girls will receive nearly twice as high. Finland’s gender gap in reading skills is the 4th highest in the 74 PISA-participating countries.
Whereas boys typically fare better in maths and science across OECD countries, boys also lost this advantage in the recent years. Men are also less likely to pursue higher education than women in Finland.
Over-digitalization in the Classroom and Inadequate Sleep
Finnish educators appear to have assumed that more tablets and laptops with the students, the better. Critics argue that despite numerous studies done on the effects of mobile device use among youth, Finnish educators rarely ever talk about it. Some have argued that this “rush to digitalization” is to be avoided. Finnish first graders are given iPads to help them learn the Finnish language at home. Even though health authorities warn the public that screen time for kids need to be limited to two hours a day, many aspects of education have now been digitalized, exposing students to excessive screen time. William Doyle, an American-Finnish, believes that the Finnish education system is still among the best. He cites the highly trained teachers, free school meals and other supports. He acknowledges, however, that the quality of Finnish education is in decline, and mentions several effects of over-digitalization.
He believes that constant exposure to mobile devices has played a role in the declining reading scores, especially among boys. It has also contributed to the elimination of physical activity. Mobile devices that students use don’t have any filters or limits, leading to use for entertainment beyond healthy limits. Students will use their laptops for entertainment during class, as the teachers don’t see the screens. Widespread dependency on mobile devices, in turn, reinforces the same behaviour as students now fear missing out on things: they can’t quit their dependency alone. Over-digitalization of student life and excessive use of social media have also impacted their sleep schedules. Students sleep 7 and a half hours on average, less than that is appropriate for their age group. Their sleep quality has also been in decline, leading to poorer concentration when reading. Doyle argues that a “tidal wave” of global research associating excessive mobile device use with risk to psychological, physical, and academic wellbeing is largely ignored. PISA-age students would ideally get 8-10 hours of sleep, per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Lack of Structure
Onto some structural problems within the system. We’ve mentioned how respected the teaching profession is in Finland. While it comes with its advantages (e.g. highly sought, prestigious), it seems to have placed too much responsibility on teachers. The profession has transformed into a semi-bureaucratic job with less teaching element to it, consuming more of their valued time for non-instruction related duties. Though it’s been cited as Finland’s “magic trick” to high PISA scores in the early 2000s, critics also argue that “pupil-led” education actually has contributed to the decline that’s seen in the following PISA cycles. More structured, teacher-dominated methods of instruction, they argue, could help the Finnish education pick up, as also suggested by other evidence.
Finland’s education system surely remains among the best in the world. For all of its weaknesses, in my opinion, it possesses the ability to adapt and make changes as needed. As the evidence documenting effects of excessive use of mobile devices mount, the Finnish authorities must comply with the recommendations of health authorities. As also seen in other parts of the world, boys are experiencing decline in school achievement in Finland. As mentioned, this gender gap is among the greatest in the world, and it might require a thorough investigation to prevent other problems it may cause in the future.
The disadvantages that may be coming from immigrant or other social background are also more pronounced in Finland, compared to other countries. This type of inequality may contribute to further alienation of minorities in the Finnish society, disproportionate representation in the correctional system, increased risk for extremism, mental health problems, and other harder-to-solve problems in the long run. Teacher may benefit from cultural awareness and other training opportunities to better assist disadvantaged students.
Students with special needs are disproportionately affected by the budget cuts, as one of the first things these cuts have done is to reduce the available number of special education instructors. Increased budget for education may alleviate the shortage. It can also help schools allocate more resources for challenging over-achieving students more. Whether a more centralized and structured system would improve overall education outcomes remains to be a matter of debate.
Paruthi, S., Brooks, L. J., D’Ambrosio, C., Hall, W. A., Kotagal, S., Lloyd, R. M., Malow, B. A., Maski, K., Nichols, C., Quan, S. F., Rosen, C. L., Troester, M. M., & Wise, M. S. (2016). Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine on the Recommended Amount of Sleep for Healthy Children: Methodology and Discussion. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 12(11), 1549–1561. https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.6288
Nestled amidst a variety of landscapes- from the mountain chains of Stara Planina, a natural dividing line running west to east, with over 40,000 cultural heritage sites, of which seven are listed under the UNESCO list, to the myriad of beaches along the coastline of Black Sea, Bulgaria is a perfect amalgamation of old cultures and modern townships. Founded in the seventh century, Bulgaria is the second oldest country, after San Marino, in the European continent.
Because of its rich historical background, Bulgaria also sees an intersection of Greek, Persian, Slavic, Roma and Ottoman cultures. This cultural intersection has also significantly impacted Bulgaria’s politics and society. Modern Bulgarian socio-political society has evolved due to interwoven inherited beliefs, values and practices combined with new influences. The impact of this ever-changing fusion can be seen in different aspects of Bulgarian society, particularly in education.
Before we look into the changing landscape of education in Bulgaria, let’s first understand where the country stands and how some of these factors affect its education infrastructure.
Bulgaria joined the European Union on 1st January 2007 after signing the 2005 Treaty of Accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU. Since then, there have been significant changes in its education sector, especially in terms of funding, investment in educational infrastructure and technology, advancement of its curriculum to meet EU standards and, most importantly, the introduction of a variety of widely spoken EU languages and mobility and exchange programmes.
Moreover, being an upper-middle income of the European Union, Bulgaria has implemented (especially after joining the EU) policies and introduced reforms in various sectors that also increase its proximity to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) standards and practices. It is on the pathway to becoming a member of the OECD. These reforms and policies have been encouraged and facilitated by a strong commitment to EU integration and have led the country to achieve macroeconomic stabilisation and higher living standards for the people in past decades.
However, although Bulgaria is striving towards progress, various hurdles need to be understood and worked upon.
Take education for instance. Bulgaria does believe that education is a vital tool to combat its current problems and will also aid in realising the country’s socio-economic potential. But it has not been so successful. The country has one of the lowest education outcomes in the EU. According to PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) data, 47% of 15-year-old students failed to achieve sufficient levels of reading proficiency in 2018, as compared to the Eastern Europe and Central Asia regional average of 42% and the OECD and EU average of 23%.
One of the underlying reasons for Bulgaria’s diminished educational progress is the low investment rate in the educational sector. According to the latest data of 2018, only 3.5% of the GDP is spent on education, which is lower than the EU average of 4.6%. It is one of the lowest in the EU.
Even though the world is moving towards digitalisation, Bulgarian classrooms could be more progressive. Most of the teachers find the integration of technology in the classrooms as an effective instrument however, they often complain about the lack of technical equipment and skills required to utilise the existing technology in classrooms. Fewer schools in Bulgaria are digitally equipped when compared to the EU. According to a 2019 report by the European Commission, only 32% of primary school children, 31% at the lower secondary level, and 37% at the upper secondary level have access to digitally equipped schools, as compared to the average 35%, 52% and 72% in the EU respectively. Only 57% of students in the age group 16-19 years possess basic digital skills as basic, which is much below the EU average of 82%.
The past few years have seen investments funded by the EU to enhance digital tools and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) infrastructure; however, a Ministry of Education and Science study revealed that less than 40% of educational institutions had adequate equipment in their computer labs. Further, almost only half of the Bulgarian schools had pre-requisite conditions to enable modern ICT infrastructure and learning opportunities for teachers to enhance their ICT skills.
According to the 2020 Digital Economy and Society Index, Bulgaria ranks at the bottom of the European rankings based on the digital skills of adults and young people. For the same reason, attempts are now being made to address this challenge. The SELFIE tool (a tool developed by the European Commission to help schools understand where they stand in digital education) is already used by 30% of the Bulgarian schools that evaluated how they use digital technologies in teaching and learning. The number of upper secondary classes specialising in ICT has been increased. Interestingly, coding is being offered as a subject starting from third grade, while four universities provide programmes in Artificial Intelligence. This is after the Council of the European Union called Bulgaria to ‘promote digital skills and equal access to education’ in its 2020 country specific recommendations. Bulgaria has also set out ‘Digital Bulgaria 2025’, a national programme for modernising and incorporating IT solutions in all economic and social welfare areas. One notable educational challenge confronting Bulgaria is the structural issues in teaching policies. Most teachers in primary to upper secondary schools are ageing rapidly, as most are older than 50. According to a report by World Bank 2019, around 11% are found to be already 60 years old. Despite raising the teachers’ salaries to make it more attractive, only some were found to opt for the teaching profession. The teacher training is considered more theoretical than practical, and there is no clear policy to measure if the teachers’ skills meet students’ needs nor any system to track the teaching and learning experience of the classrooms.
Discrimination against Roma children in schools
Although providing equal and unbiased education is a fundamental human right for all citizens of the EU countries, the non-inclusive nature of public education consistently denies Roma children from enjoying this right. There are huge gaps in access, quality and treatment of Roma children. One of the primary concerns is school segregation.
Even though school segregation has never been officially introduced or sanctioned by the Eastern and Central European countries, unfortunately, it has always been present. The system of ‘Gypsy schools’ predominantly existed in Bulgaria, where the children enrolled belonged exclusively to the Roma community as they were not allowed to enrol in mainstream Bulgarian schools.
Over the years, especially in the late 90s and 2000s, the policies of the Bulgarian government supported the downsizing of the Gypsy schools. The organised grassroots effort for school desegregation in Bulgaria began in 2000, with several hundred Romani children enrolling from a gypsy school in Vidin into the town’s mainstream schools. This initiative aligns with the historical development of Romani communities in Bulgaria, where, having lived on Bulgarian lands for centuries, Roma has long aspired to integrate into the broader societal institutions, including the educational system. The desire to achieve this goal has existed for a long time and is not limited to the present. Even in past decades, Romani parents with the necessary knowledge and resources made efforts to enrol their children in mainstream schools.
However, this process has remained ever slow in doing so. Many Roma children either remain unenrolled in schools, often drop out or do not receive quality inclusive education. The 2018 UNICEF Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Bulgaria identifies factors such as poverty, limited proficiency in the official language (Bulgarian), prejudice, and discrimination as the primary contributors to this issue.
In the 2018 PISA test, students from more advantaged backgrounds significantly outperformed their less advantaged counterparts, with a substantial gap of 106 points in reading, equivalent to over two and a half years of schooling. While this gap has decreased since 2009 (when it stood at 130 points), this reduction primarily stems from lower scores among the advantaged students rather than an improvement in the performance of disadvantaged students. To summarise, 70% of students facing socio-economic disadvantages encountered difficulties in reading, in contrast to just 25% among their more socio-economically advantaged peers. This gap of 45 percentage points is the widest in the EU. Consequently, the transmission of educational qualification and poverty between generations is a crucial factor influencing overall educational opportunities, early school dropout rates, and subsequent success in the labour market. This concludes that the benefits from schooling are higher for students whose mother tongue is Bulgarian than others.
Students’ socio-economic status strongly influences their aspirations regarding attaining a university degree. In Bulgaria, 64.3% of teenagers generally aim to achieve higher education, slightly surpassing the EU average of 62.4%. Nevertheless, when examining the least privileged students, only 42.8% realise this aspiration, in contrast to the significantly higher rate of 83.3% among their more affluent counterparts.
Moreover, the Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states its concern over Bulgaria’s National Roma Integration Strategy (2012-2020) as it remains constrained. The Committee observes hindrances preventing Roma individuals from thoroughly enjoying their economic, social, and cultural rights. Specifically, there are ongoing concerns about discrimination against Roma in areas such as employment, housing, healthcare, and education, which are further exacerbated by increased anti-Roma sentiment. It is particularly concerned about reports that Roma children increasingly attended de facto segregated schools.
It has been over 20 years since the Bulgarian government initiated its desegregation policy. However, most reports, as we saw, suggest that the progress is slow. The desegregation is a long-term process that requires continuous efforts and, most importantly, an understanding of a multi-layered phenomenon. To ultimately achieve integration, the government must work alongside the communities- both the majority and minority, civil society and international organisations to ensure equitable education for all.
Education in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has been marred by various challenges that have significantly impacted both students and teachers. These challenges encompass issues related to school infrastructure, teacher shortages, limited resources, inadequate funding, and the need for educational reform. This article delves into the educational challenges faced by the BVI, provides a historical context of education in the territory, and offers in-depth analysis of the impact and potential solutions to these issues.
Background: Development of Education in the British Virgin Islands
The development of education in the BVI can be traced back to the mid-19th century when the first government-supported schools were established. These schools aimed to provide basic education to the local population. Over the years, the BVI has made significant strides in expanding educational opportunities and ensuring access to quality education for all residents. However, the educational system has faced persistent challenges that have hindered its progress.
While the BVI has made efforts to provide accessible and quality education to its residents, the education system still faces significant challenges. The territory’s small size and limited resources pose inherent constraints. Additionally, the geographical dispersion of the islands further complicates the delivery of education services. These factors, coupled with historical underinvestment in education, have resulted in a system struggling to meet the needs of its students and teachers.
Infrastructure Challenges: Deteriorating School Facilities
One of the major challenges faced by schools in the BVI is the deteriorating condition of their facilities. Many schools suffer from inadequate electrical and internet infrastructure, poor ventilation systems leading to mouldy air conditioning units, and insufficient waste disposal accommodations. These infrastructure deficiencies have persisted for a long time and have had a detrimental impact on the learning environment for both teachers and students.
The poor state of school facilities has wide-ranging implications for education in the BVI. Inadequate infrastructure hampers the delivery of quality education and creates an unfavourable learning environment. Uncomfortable classrooms, lack of proper ventilation, and unreliable internet connectivity hinder effective teaching and learning. Moreover, the lack of proper waste disposal facilities not only poses health and environmental hazards but also affects the overall cleanliness and hygiene of the schools, thus impacting the well-being of students and teachers.
Wider Impact: Challenges Beyond a Single School
The challenges faced by the BVI’s education system extend beyond a single school. The Joyce Samuel Primary School, for example, experienced delays in its opening due to incomplete repairs. Teachers from various schools have reported issues such as excessive heat, mould, overflowing trash cans, overgrown grass, equipment shortages, internet problems, and electrical failures. These challenges are particularly concerning considering the hardships that students have already endured due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The cumulative impact of these challenges has been detrimental to the quality of education in the BVI. Students and teachers are forced to navigate substandard learning environments, hindering academic progress and overall well-being. The constant disruptions caused by infrastructure deficiencies and other related challenges further exacerbate the difficulties faced by students, impeding their ability to thrive and reach their full potential.
Government Response: Mixed Reactions and Funding Constraints
The government’s response to the educational challenges has been met with mixed reactions. Premier Dr. Natalio Wheatley attributed the problems to communication gaps, stating that he was not fully aware of the extent of the issues. However, the Teachers Union President, Sean Henry, contradicted this claim, asserting that the government has been neglecting these problems for an extended period. The situation is further exacerbated by a lack of sufficient funding, which has been a persistent issue even before Hurricane Irma struck in 2017. The hurricane worsened the existing problems, and the subsequent recovery efforts did not provide adequate funding to address the extensive damages suffered by the educational infrastructure.
The government’s limited financial resources have constrained its ability to adequately address the educational challenges. Prioritizing and allocating sufficient funding for education is crucial for implementing meaningful reforms and addressing infrastructure deficiencies. However, competing priorities and budgetary constraints have made it difficult for the government to allocate the necessary resources to meet the needs of the educational system.
Consequences: Impact on Behaviour and Teacher Shortages
The challenges faced by the BVI’s education system have far-reaching consequences. Inadequate facilities and learning environments contribute to behavioural problems among students, making it difficult for teachers to maintain discipline and create an effective learning environment. Minister Sharie de Castro has publicly acknowledged instances of extreme misconduct in schools, including fights, weapon possession, and drug and alcohol use. Uncomfortable classrooms and subpar facilities not only hamper effective teaching and learning but also contribute to a shortage of teachers in the territory.
The shortage of qualified teachers is a critical issue that further compounds the challenges faced by the BVI’s education system. Low salaries, limited career advancement opportunities, and challenging working conditions have contributed to teachers leaving the profession or seeking employment opportunities elsewhere. The departure of experienced teachers and the difficulty in attracting new teachers have created a significant gap in the education workforce, impacting the quality of education provided to students.
Addressing the Challenges: Prioritizing Education and Funding
To overcome the educational challenges in the BVI, it is crucial for the government to prioritize education and allocate sufficient funding. Investment in school infrastructure is paramount to providing safe and conducive learning environments for students. Adequate funding should be allocated to address the infrastructure deficiencies, such as electrical and internet infrastructure, ventilation systems, waste disposal accommodations, and the provision of necessary resources for teachers.
In addition to infrastructure improvements, the government must focus on addressing teacher shortages. Competitive remuneration packages, professional development opportunities, and improved working conditions can help attract and retain qualified teachers. Furthermore, targeted recruitment strategies, including partnerships with educational institutions, can help bridge the gap in teacher supply.
Collaboration and Long-Term Solutions
The challenges faced by the BVI’s education system require collaboration among government entities, schools, teachers, and other stakeholders. Effective communication channels should be established to ensure that concerns are promptly addressed, and resources are allocated efficiently. Stakeholder engagement and input should be sought to develop and implement comprehensive plans for improving the educational system. Collective action is essential to finding long-term solutions that will provide a better education for the students of the British Virgin Islands.
Long-term solutions should focus on holistic educational reform, including curriculum enhancements, teacher professional development, and the integration of technology in the learning process. The government should actively engage with teachers, parents, and students to identify areas for improvement and develop evidence-based policies and strategies. Regular assessment and monitoring mechanisms should be implemented to track progress and make necessary adjustments.
Conclusion: Prioritizing Education for a Brighter Future
The British Virgin Islands has a unique opportunity to transform its educational landscape and provide quality education to all its students. By prioritizing education, investing in infrastructure, supporting teachers, and fostering a culture of excellence, the BVI can overcome its current challenges and create a brighter future for its students. Education is the key to unlocking the potential of individuals and driving the progress of a nation, and it is crucial that the BVI prioritizes the well-being and development of its future generations.
In conclusion, the educational challenges faced by the BVI are multifaceted and require comprehensive solutions. By addressing infrastructure deficiencies, tackling teacher shortages, and allocating sufficient funding, the BVI can pave the way for a brighter future for its students. It is imperative for all stakeholders, including the government, schools, teachers, and the community, to work together to overcome these challenges and provide a quality education that empowers the territory’s students to thrive and contribute to the growth and development of the British Virgin Islands.
Beacon, B. (2023, September 26). Editorial: As school resumes, students deserve better – the BVI beacon. The BVI Beacon – “The light that comes from wisdom never goes out.” https://www.bvibeacon.com/editorial-as-school-resumes-students-deserve-better/
Beacon, T. B. (2023, May 12). Virgin islands delegation attends Education Forum – the BVI beacon. The BVI Beacon – “The light that comes from wisdom never goes out.” https://www.bvibeacon.com/virgin-islands-delegation-attends-education-forum/
ESHS sit-in: Officials unhappy over lack of communication. Virgin Islands Platinum News … BVI Daily News You Can Count On. (n.d.). https://www.bviplatinum.com/news.php?articleid=34915
ESHS teachers protest longstanding issues at school. BVI News. (2023, September 18). https://bvinews.com/eshs-teachers-protest-longstanding-issues-at-school/
Haynes, K. (2023, June 8). Teacher vacancies are alarmingly high – will this impact new school year?. 284 Media – News from the BVI. https://www.284media.com/local/2023/06/08/teacher-vacancies-are-alarmingly-high-will-this-impact-new-school-year/
Kampa, D. (2023, September 20). Students head back to class – the BVI beacon. The BVI Beacon – “The light that comes from wisdom never goes out.” https://www.bvibeacon.com/students-head-back-to-class-2/
Non-state actors in education. British Virgin Islands | NON-STATE ACTORS IN EDUCATION | Education Profiles. (n.d.). https://education-profiles.org/latin-america-and-the-caribbean/british-virgin-islands/~non-state-actors-in-education
Remarks by acting chief education officer at educators professional day: Government of the Virgin Islands. Remarks by Acting Chief Education Officer at Educators Professional Day | Government of the Virgin Islands. (n.d.). https://bvi.gov.vg/media-centre/remarks-acting-chief-education-officer-educators-professional-day
Statement from the Ministry of Education in response to industrial action at the elmore stoutt high school: Government of the Virgin Islands. Statement From the Ministry of Education in Response to Industrial Action at The Elmore Stoutt High School | Government of the Virgin Islands. (n.d.). https://bvi.gov.vg/media-centre/statement-ministry-education-response-industrial-action-elmore-stoutt-high-school
This report drafted by Broken Chalk contributes to the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the Republic of North Macedonia. This report focuses exclusively on human rights issues in North Macedonia’s education field.
The Balkan country of North Macedonia has made remarkable educational progress since gaining independence in 1991. Despite a decade of complicated development in the years following independence, due firstly to the conflicts in former Yugoslavia and Kosovo and then to tensions with Bulgaria and Greece over its own identity, North Macedonia has developed a more proactive policy over the past decade. The country is one of the founders of the Open Balkan Initiative, which aims to bring the countries of the southern Balkans closer together economically and culturally. The improvement in bilateral relations with Greece in 2018, with the Prespa agreements, has raised hopes of reducing regional tensions. This new climate is favourable for creating new initiatives to strengthen cooperation in culture and education. A few Erasmus programs are offered between North Macedonian and other European universities. University exchanges with neighbouring countries, including members of the Open Balkans initiative and the European Union, are the best way to reduce tensions in the Western Balkans by bringing young people together in dialogue.
The country’s literacy rate, although below the European Union average (98.7%), is ahead of other developed countries such as Greece (97.7%) and Singapore (96.8%). 2002, the literacy rate was 96%, compared with 98.1% in 2015. The female literacy rate rose from 90.93% in 1994 to 96.70% twenty years later in 2014. In addition to these results, public spending on education fell from 3. 30% in 2002 to 3.7% in 2016. Moreover, in general, the education budget in North Macedonia has systematically lost since it gained independence in 1991 (4.7% of GDP in 1992). Education is compulsory from the age of 6 up to 15, which is lower than in Western European countries, where schooling lasts, on average, until the age of 16 [i]. School dropout rates vary from one category of the population to another. North Macedonia is ethnically diverse: 26% Albanian, 3.41% Turkish-speaking and 2.53% Roma. The Roma are the primary school dropout victims despite forming only a small ethnic minority.
The North Macedonian curriculum is similar to that of OECD countries. Higher education and research and development have received little attention from the North Macedonian public authorities: the budget for higher education has fallen from 1.1% in 2010 to 0.8% in 2021. Higher education is neither free nor fully covered by the state. Students are eligible for grants based not on income but on academic performance. Students are categorised into “state-funded” or “self-funded” groups based on their prior academic performance. State-funded students, representing high-achieving individuals, contribute partially to their education costs and pay administrative fees. Special exemptions exist for disadvantaged groups like disabled individuals, unemployed youths, and security force families, and their number is capped. Self-funded students follow a fixed tuition fee model. Similar fees are applied to students in short-cycle higher education programs. So, even if this system is meritocratic in principle, it excludes students whose families do not have the means to pay for private tuition or don’t attach much importance to reading or culture. [ii]
The following report has been drafted by Broken Chalk as a stakeholder contribution to the Slovak Republic.
Public schools provide primary and secondary education free of charge. Higher education is also accessible for full-time students, ensuring they do not exceed the standard length of study. Private and church schools may charge for education provided.[i]
The state budget allocates funds to schools according to the number of pupils, personnel and economic demands.[ii]
Compulsory school attendance lasts ten years between the ages of 6 and 16.[iii]
The Slovak language is the language of instruction at most schools.[iv]
Decentralisation in the Slovak Republic is based on a dual system of i) self-government by local authorities (regions and municipalities) and ii) “deconcentrated” state administration that refers to the transfer of responsibilities to local units of the central government.[v]
As of 2016, Slovakia’s education funding stood at 3.9% of the national GDP, ranking 109th worldwide. In 2019, London think-tank The Legatum Institute ranked Slovakia’s education system 48th out of 167 countries evaluated, and 2019 data from The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) noted an upward trend in education spending ($15.87 per student). However, the OECD also identified a decline in Slovakian students’ math, reading, and science scores.[vi]
Higher education institutions are independent institutions that manage the course and focus of education, research, development, economy, and their internal organisation. Law defines the extent of the self-governing scope of higher education institutions.[vii]
In the Slovak Republic, 39% of 25-34-year-olds had a tertiary qualification in 2021 compared to 47% on average across OECD countries. In the Slovak Republic, the share of women among general upper secondary graduates is 59% (OECD average 55%). Men make up 55% of all vocational upper secondary graduates, the same as the OECD average.[viii]
Although education in Slovakia is relatively well-organised and of high quality, the system has some issues. These issues are demonstrated by a survey, for instance, conducted by researchers at Bratislava’s Comenius University, which revealed that around 50% of the respondents would rather receive their higher education abroad than at home.[ix]
Broken Chalk (BC) appreciates all achievements and advancements of the Slovakian educational system and urges the Slovakian government to address issues in its education to guarantee its citizens their human right to education.
At the beginning of October, the Dutch government announced their decision to raise student loan interest rates to their highest level in 14 years. This announcement ignited controversy and many debates. From January 1, 2024, student loan interest rates are set to surge from 0.46 per cent to 2.56 per cent, as reported by the Dienst University Onderwijs (DUO), the government body responsible for student financial aid.
The sudden and significant increase in interest rates has left many current and former students stumbling, with widespread disagreement over the reasons behind this unexpected move. While some argue that the growth is a necessary adjustment, others contend it is a breach of trust, further compounding the financial burdens faced by students.
The Impact on Students
In response to this increase, students have voiced their frustration and disillusionment with protests, online discussions, and their professors. Many believe they are being unfairly targeted, especially considering that the government has recently eliminated student debt for new students. More and more students struggle to find affordable housing and pay immense amounts for rooms they are often not allowed to register at. Therefore, they miss out on possible governmental funding such as the reintroduced Basisbeurs, a government grant providing financial assistance to students to cover their educational expenses.
“It’s hard to comprehend why the government would choose to burden those of us who still have debt with this interest rate hike,” says Paul, a former student. The sentiment among these students is that the government has not been transparent about the implications of this increase. Usually, when wanting to loan money, there is a clear indicator to remind people that loaning money costs money. The typical logo is nowhere to be seen when looking for information about Dutch student loans.
Conversely, some argue that the rate hike is reasonable, emphasising that everyone should know that borrowing inherently comes with interest costs. “They knew they were borrowing money, which comes with a price. Some say that students borrowed the money to finance parties and a luxurious lifestyle, while others used it to buy a house. Some say no one should be complaining as loaning money comes with the personal responsibility to be able to pay it back. They further argue that a student who pursues a meaningful and lucrative career can quickly repay their debt within the 15-year timeframe.
Whilst it is true that the student loan agreements depend on and are tied to the government’s borrowing costs, the interest rise has been coming. However, students feel like they have been cheated and are being cornered.
Whilst Education Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf does acknowledge the concerns of students and the public, he assures that the rate adjustment is tailored to each student’s financial circumstances. He highlights that those with low incomes will have lower monthly repayments, aiming to ease the financial burden. Furthermore, Dijkgraaf believes that reintroducing the basic grant (Basisbeurs) and temporary assistance to counteract rising inflation and energy costs will financially relieve many students. However, as mentioned before, many cannot access help due to their living situation not officially registered.
The decision to raise interest rates comes after six years, during which student loan interest rates remained at 0 per cent. This was primarily due to the Dutch government’s ability to borrow funds at favourable rates in the capital market; however, the loan interest had to rise at some point due to rising interest rates.
The Feeling of Broken Promises
Van der Ham, a student herself, expresses profound disillusionment with the government’s actions amid this debate. She recalls that she believed in three critical conditions when she started borrowing. “The first was that your student debt would not affect your ability to secure a mortgage in the future,” van der Ham says in correspondence with NOS. Additionally, it was conveyed that the loan was favourable, with little to no interest.
Lastly, there was the impression that the income generated from the loan system would be reinvested in improving the quality of education. Van der Ham feels that none of these promises have materialised.
A law student, Jim Hiddink, shares similar sentiments, feeling that the situation is unjust. “When you begin borrowing, you agree with the government, but now the entire nature of that agreement is changing. The interest rate remained low, at most 0.5 per cent.”
In a letter sent by the outgoing Minister of Education, Dijkgraaf, to the Dutch Parliament in 2022, it was stated that there was never a promise to maintain a 0 per cent interest rate or that the size of a student’s debt would have no influence on their mortgage application. Previous ministers, including Jet Bussemaker, had, however, stressed that the consequences should remain limited and students should not develop a “fear of borrowing.” Which has now, unfortunately, become a reality for many.
Mustafa Ersoy’s fate hangs in the balance as he faces deportation to Turkey. With his expired passport, he has turned to Switzerland in a desperate plea for asylum.
by Inja van Soest.
In a recent report by İsmail Sağıroğlu from Boldmedya, we learn of yet another tragic chapter unfolding against a backdrop of mounting pressure within Turkey. Mustafa Ersoy, a 52-year-old educator from Konya Beyşehir, is facing deportation. After completing his studies in computer science in Kazakhstan, he stayed for a decade as a teacher. Afterwards, he returned to his homeland, Turkey, assuming roles as a manager in Beykoz and Sultanbeyli reading halls affiliated with Kaynak Eğitim in Istanbul.
However, Mustafa’s life took a sharp turn on July 15, 2016, when Turkey experienced a coup attempt. The Turkish government attributed the coup to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999. Once an ally of President Erdogan, Gulen firmly denies any involvement in the coup. The Turkish government has labelled Gulen’s network as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization” (FETO), accusing its supporters of establishing a “parallel state” by infiltrating various state institutions, including the police, judiciary, and military. In the two years following the coup attempt, Turkey remained under a state of emergency, leading to the arrest of tens of thousands and the suspension or dismissal of at least 125,000 civil servants, military personnel, and academics suspected of having links to Gulen.
When Mustafa’s colleagues started facing detainment and arrests, he sought refuge in Kazakhstan. However, his inability to renew his passport forced him to leave Kazakhstan, ultimately reaching Switzerland via Greece, where he applied for asylum.
Regrettably, Mustafa Ersoy’s application was rejected on two separate occasions, with him not having access to the information in his case files. The situation reached a critical juncture on Thursday, October 12th, when Swiss Police picked him up in the early morning hours at the camp where he had been staying and escorted him to the airport. Mustafa refused to board the flight to Turkey, fully aware that he would face imminent arrest and persecution upon his return. Since then, he has been in a detention centre near Geneva alongside other immigrants awaiting deportation to their home countries.
It was not until Monday, October 16th, that Mustafa received a glimmer of hope when a Swiss court granted him the right to reapply for asylum. His re-application with the legal help of FLAG21 is now under review, with a decision expected within the next ten days.
Broken Chalk firmly stands with Mustafa Ersoy and is grateful for the help he has received from FLAG21. Broken Chalk appeals to the Swiss Government to grant him asylum and protection from the potential persecution he faces at the hands of the Turkish Government.