Analysing Turkish Imam Hatip High Schools Over the Past Decade

Analysing Turkish Imam Hatip High Schools Over the Past Decade

Organisation: Dag Medya (Turkey)

Publication Date: 04/02/2017

Size of team/newsroom:small


This data driven project was investigate the rise in the number of religious high school education over the last 10 years and presently continuing. It covered experiences of families, and the circumstances of current students' status. The number of Imam and Preacher schools (IPS) in Turkey in 2002-2003 was just 450, middle and high schools combined. The number of schools today is 1149. Normal schools have been converting to IPS without parents being consulted, and those that are protesting, the victims and families in the neighborhood who do not want religious based education for their children, are being largely ignored. These violations are affecting minorities such as Jewish, Christian, Armenian, Alevis etc. Much controversy surrounds the “imam-hatip” Islamic vocational schools, with reports suggesting that 40,000 students, including non-Muslims, have been placed in such schools for the upcoming school year against the will of their families. There are also reports that two Armenian students in Istanbul were automatically assigned to Imam-hatip schools. According to the new system, students failing to get into their top-preferred school as a result of the exam are placed in schools nearest to their area. However, many claim that too many regular schools have been turned into Imam-hatip schools in recent years, making it difficult for some children to avoid a religion-focused education even if they do not want it. Others claim that the government is actually aiming to promote private schools, with some parents expected to choose to force their budget in order to send their children to private schools rather than leave them in state schools they have been automatically placed in. In the project To approach the story, firstly the number of schools were clarified with the Education Ministry by applying via the Information Act for the period 2002- 2016. The story featured 3 different cities, with interviews focusing on families who protest and did not want to send their child to schools. Specific locations would include Ankara (Capital), İskenderun in the south east where there is a high population of different religions and Antalya, which was the epicentre of Tourism in Turkey, where just this month saw the opening of a controversial 'women-only' beach, a move some say is another step towards a more 'religious' way of living. The sources of this story were Ministry of Education, the Presidency of Religious Affairs, Imam and Preacher Schools Organisation, Religious Vocational School Graduates and Officers Association, protesters' and their families' interviews and their current conditions, and the Information Act. It was also draw from also two religious teachers, MPs and also education unions and their database of complaints. Overall it focused on today's increasing IPS and what influenced it would have on growing young girls, and boys, and regime change concerns and violation of educational rights for all, including minorities.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

"Analysing Turkish Imam Hatip High Schools Over the Past Decade" investigative journalism project is the first data-driven journalism practice covered the development of the religious schools in Turkey. In the project, we used data journalism approaches to narrating the story from gathering phase data to storytelling with data phase. Moreover, we struggle with data in pdf format. government institutions in Turkey mostly prefer to publish the statistical reports in pdf format. Ministry of National Education is one of them. In every academic year, education data is caged into pdf reports. In order to liberate the data, we used Tabula tool. After data from education statistics reports was scraped and compiled, we used Open Refine to clean and structure the data. Then, the data was prepared to analyze with tools like google spreadsheet and excel. Lastly, after compiling and cleaning data, we interrogated the data and found patterns in it. These insights and patterns constituted the main body of the project. Also, the data were visualized by Tableau and Google Charts in order to enrich the story and emphasize the certain trends. As a result, we used data savvy journalism tools to liberate, to clean and to visualize the education data and to told story comprehensively. Furthermore, we created the mobile-friendly site from the scratch by google sites tool to publish some of our findings which you can reach the site from additional link section. Also, everyone has the access to structured project data from both original publication site and google sites.

Technologies used for this project:

We used Tabula, Open Refine, Tableau, Google Spreadsheet, Google sites tools for this project.
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