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Areas of activity



  • Public spending on education (share of GDP): 4% (2004)
  • Compulsory school attendance: 6–14 years of age
  • Rate of school enrollment: 89% of children who are required to attend school (2004)
  • Literacy (definition: those over the age of 15 who can read and write): Total population: 87.4%; males: 95.3%; females: 79.6 % (2004 est.)
  • HDI Education Index: Rank 84 out of 177 (1 = max., 0 = no education)
  • Average years of education: Total population: 11; males: 12; females: 11 (2006)


Despite the efforts of the Turkish government, the country’s youthful demographic structure often means a lack of teaching materials and classrooms. The problem is particularly acute in the eastern regions of Turkey, where classes may have as many as 60 students and teaching sometimes has to be done in shifts. While new school construction and the hiring of teachers are the responsibility of the Turkish state, donations by German companies of materials or equipment for public elementary and secondary schools would certainly be appropriate and welcome. However, such contributions would have to be cleared with Turkey’s Ministry of Education, a potentially time-consuming bureaucratic process.

Under a school partnership initiative called “Schools: Partners for the Future,” or PASCH, sponsored by Germany’s Foreign Office, support, sometimes including equipment donations, is being provided for 16 new partner schools in Turkey with a focus on German instruction. Further information is available on the website of theFederal Foreign Office.


  • Ministry of Education, legislature, policymakers
  • TED - Ankara College Foundation Schools (educational foundation) runs private schools; planning a university; cooperation with Germany’s Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA)/German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
  • TEV - educational foundation, provides scholarships for students in schools and universities
  • TEGEV – vocational training foundation, supports technical training in companies

University education

An intergovernmental agreement to establish a German-Turkish university was signed on May 30, 2008, and Article 9 provides for close ties between the university and the private sector. Contributions from German and Turkish companies are very welcome. An endowed chair funded by German industry, perhaps in the department of engineering, would be a real flagship project. Other possibilities might be to provide equipment for the engineering department or the German language center, or to offer internships.

Vocational training

Although German funds for economic cooperation have been used to build training centers in Turkey, the dual vocational training system has not been introduced nationwide. In the trades, the principle of a dual system has been established, in line with the German model, but apprenticeships generally consist of “learning by doing.” In theory, trainees are supposed to attend school once or twice a week, but this rarely happens. The existing Turkish vocational schools (“meslek yüksek okulu”) are not highly regarded; they lack adequate equipment and materials and many of their teachers are not fully qualified. There is too little cooperation with companies during the training process, and the jobs that are available to graduates of these programs pay only low wages. The Turkish government should take action: Teachers need opportunities for professional development, and it is important to switch from two-year courses of study to a more challenging four-year system, featuring a solid practical component and better equipment. German companies could make a sorely needed contribution by providing better equipment and offering internships during the training process.

Some German companies in Turkey provide an excellent model of company-based training for their employees.


MAN, SIEMENS, MERCEDES and BOSCH are among the major German companies that provide basic and further training, which helps them meet the need for skilled workers that Turkey’s system is unable to satisfy. Other companies such as FESTO and several SMEs are also involved in this area.

Projects involving multiple companies:
A group of German businesses contributes a certain amount of money each year to support the departments of business management and information systems, which use German as their working language, at Marmara University in Istanbul.

The Cultural Foundation of German and Turkish Businesses (www.ksdtw.org), established in 2005, has in the past provided financial support to allow talented Turkish students to take German courses in Germany.


A cooperation agreement was signed in 2005 between Hacettepe University, Mercedes-Benz Türk AS and the vocational college FH Esslingen; it provides for support from the automotive engineering department at FH Esslingen for its newly established counterpart at Hacettepe University. The agreement seeks to ensure an adequate supply of properly trained automotive engineers for positions with national and international automotive companies and suppliers in Turkey. Under this program, the curriculum developed at FH Esslingen is used at Hacettepe University and professors from Esslingen lecture in Turkey. Professors at Hacettepe University participate in training programs at FH Esslingen.


Particularly noteworthy is the involvement of Festo San. ve Tic. A.S., a Turkish branch of Festo AG & Co., a mid-sized Esslingen company in the field of control and automation technology (pneumatics). Under the leadership of Mr. Bauer, Festo San. ve Tic. A.S. has made extraordinary efforts to promote vocational training, recognizing that the Turkish training system is unable to meet the growing needs of an increasingly industrialized country, and is graduating engineers and specialized workers who lack the skills they need. The largely theoretical vocational education offered in Turkey is rarely supplemented with in-company training. Because of these issues, the Turkish system is not conducive to technological innovation. In order to deal with this long-term challenge, in 1994 Festo San. ve Tic. A.S. joined with other major investors (including Mercedes Benz Türk, West-LB, Efes Türk, Siemens and Ford) to establish the nonprofit foundation TEGEV (Teknolojik Egitimi Gelistirme Vakfi), which now employs a staff of 60, in an effort to upgrade technological training in Turkey. TEGEV has already opened 10 vocational schools throughout the country, which are now training the skilled workers that are so urgently needed by companies from Germany and elsewhere.

Other important and successful educational projects that have been implemented by German companies in cooperation with Turkish authorities as well as with national and international NGOs include the following:


Under a joint initiative called “OSRAM Aydinlatma Hareketi” (Osram Enlightenment Movement), project sponsor OSRAM and the Association for Supporting Contemporary Life (Cagdas Yasami Destekleme Dernegi,www.cydd.org.tr) have provided lighting for a total of 100 classrooms in village schools located between the provinces of Eskisehir and Malatya. 
CSR WeltWeit case study (German): Osram Aydinlanma Hareketi (Osram’s Student Illumination Movement)


Working closely together with UNICEF and the Turkish Ministry of Education under the motto “Haydi Kizlar Okula” (Let’s go, girls, off to school), ROTRING has launched an initiative to encourage girls to attend school. Particularly in rural areas (mostly in the eastern part of the country), some families do not send their daughters to school at all, or only to elementary school. This project is in place in 81 Turkish provinces. According to information from UNICEF and Turkey’s Ministry of Education, a total of 430,000 girls have benefited from this program (2007).


Together with the Association for Supporting Contemporary Life (www.cydd.org.tr), MERCEDES has launched a project under the motto “Her Kizimiz bir Yildiz” (Every one of our daughters is a star). It is intended to promote vocational training for female elementary school students and encourage girls to attend school. The program began during the 2004/2005 school year with 400 girls in 17 cities; the number of cities has since risen to 29. The plan is to increase the number of participants by 200 in each subsequent school year.


In cooperation with the police department of the province of Istanbul, the Academy for Emergency Medical Services (Medline & Johanniter) and the Demirbükey Academy, on June 20 and 21, 2007, TÜV-SÜD launched a training program for 1,000 drivers (security officers) under the motto: “Güvenli Sürücü Egitimi” (Training safe drivers).


CSR WeltWeit case study (English): Transparency in the Supply Chain


CSR WeltWeit case study (English): Bursa Education Run


CSR WeltWeit case study (German): Unterstützung der Schulausbildung türkischer Mädchen

Opportunities and risks related to involvement in education

Turkey is an up-and-coming country that has traditionally had a very friendly relationship with Germany. Ideally, involvement in the area of education will create lasting ties between German companies and future leaders in Turkey. Increased efforts to promote vocational training can also help to remedy the much-lamented lack of qualified workers, while also offering young people opportunities that extend beyond a single company.

The main difficulties lie in overregulation and a bureaucracy that can be cumbersome. It is wise to proceed cautiously in the educational sphere.

Source: German Embassy, Ankara

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