Education in Turkey

The Turkish education system is less strict and extensive than school systems in Western countries. Children have fewer years of compulsory education and can find work at the age of 15.

Turkish schools

The education system is set up so that children are only in state funded education for 8 years from the ages of 6 to 14. Pre-school and secondary school is not free in Turkey and even though the cost of them is low many parents cannot afford the prices. Many Turkish children leave school at 14 and go on into jobs at 15, for many families the extra income proves to be a lifeline.

A typical school day usually begins at 8:15am and ends at 15:00pm with an hour’s break for lunch. Most schools don’t have a cafeteria so most pupils go home for their food. Overcrowding is a big problem in Turkish schools, especially those in the cities such as Istanbul, with many being forced to cut their student body in two, with one half attending in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

If a child wants to attend higher education they have to pay and pass entrance exams. The results of these exams determine which academic programme the child is eligible to attend.  Their outcome can mean the difference between eligibility for a four-year undergraduate degree or restriction to a two-year education program. Until sixth grade; Turkish students have a single teacher. From sixth grade on they have different teachers for different subjects.

If you do decide to send your child to a Turkish state school then you need to be aware that physical punishment is not taboo. Turkish teachers are allowed to manhandle disruptive student and it is pretty common for teachers to yank the ears of naughty children. Sexual equality is still an issue in the country with disruptive girls being disciplined or expelled faster than boys. Such strict discipline is not common in private or foreign schools.

Private education

Due to the overcrowded school system, different language and poor standard of education, private schools are the education system of choice for most expats. Unsurprisingly private schools are expensive and charge yearly fees as well as additional expenses such as uniforms and lunches.

Before you enrol your child in a private school, check to see whether it is internationally accredited. If it is not, your child may not be eligible to enter foreign universities. If working for an international company or foreign government then there is a chance that they will pay for your child’s schooling. Prices vary depending on the schools standards and international prestige.


Turkish students take this exam in their final year of high school. It is a two-part; three hour multiple-choice exam called the (ÖSS) and depending on the result will determine if your child will be eligible to enter university. Tuition varies by university, but is almost always between 500 and 7500 Turkish lira per year. Some foreign students may find this comparatively cheap, others more expensive.