The Turkish government under President Recep Erdogan has recently launched a supposed foundation called the Marrif Foundation in a renewed bid to quell the impact of the Hizmet movement affiliated educational institutions in Africa.
The Maarif Foundation, named after an Ottoman Turkish word for education, which comes from the Arabic word for knowledge or wisdom, will be funded by the Ministry of National Education to establish schools around the world which will serve as alternatives to the schools run by members of the Hizmet movement in African countries.
According to a news story published by Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah, “The state-owned Turkish Maarif Foundation was set up last June by a law passed in parliament, which was approved by President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an. The Foundation’s purpose is to ensure educational services from kindergartens to universities, provide scholarships and bursaries, and build and operate schools, training facilities and internships.” The Daily Sabah newspaper reported.
According to a reliable source who pleaded anonymity, “the motive behind Marrif Foundation is to use it as a tool to pressurize African countries to transfer ownership of Hizmet movement linked schools to the Maarif Foundation since the request for the closure of these schools were turned down for lacking in merit” the source stated.
Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper in a report published on November 18, 2016 and with the title “Chad transfers FETÖ-operated schools to Turkish Foundation” it stated that “Turkey’s Maarif (Education) Foundation Deputy President Hasan Yavuz said that Chad and Turkey had both signed the agreement that would transfer the administration of the FETÖ schools in their country to the Foundation.”
At the Turkey-Africa Business Forum, which held in Istanbul recently, Turkish President Recep Erdogan asked African leaders to replace Hizmet movement schools in Africa with Maarif Foundation. The president noted that Turkey’s Ministry of Education had started taking over schools linked with many countries and requested African leaders to cooperate with Turkey on the issue.
According to Serdar Cam, President of Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), “the Foundation will get an estimated USD 150 million budget in 2017 from the government.”
It would be recalled that on Sept. 14, Turkish Education Minister ?smet Y?lmaz announced publicly that the Maarif Foundation was planning to take over 65 schools linked to the Gülen movement in 15 unnamed countries. Despite tremendous efforts exerted by the Turkish government, only a few countries have given in to pressure over the shutdown of Gülen-linked schools in Africa, with a majority of them refusing to meet the demands of the Turkish government for lacking in merit.
For the case of Nigeria, the call for the closure of 17 Turkish schools by the Turkish Ambassador, Mr. Hakan Cakir, sparked outrage from concerned parents and guardians of students of Turkish schools in Nigeria. Recall that the Nigerian government was emphatic in its response “this is an internal matter, and we have our rules and regulations. Besides, there ought to be evidence to back your claims.”