PakTurk Schools fast-tracked their promotional activities after constructing the new school building in Lahore Raiwind Road in 2008. In this context, interviews were published in some media outlets. One of those was the interview made by Jahangir World Times with PakTurk School’s Lahore Branch principal Adam Akgedik. We publish Nabeela Malik’s interview as translated by Dr. Doğan Yücel.
Adem Akgedik was born in 1975 in Konya, the city of ‘Mevlana’ Jalaluddin Rumi. He graduated from the Marmara University in Istanbul and completed his master’s degree in Mathematics at the same university. After working as a teacher and principal in Turkish schools abroad for four years, he worked in Istanbul for one year. For the last nine years (as of 2008), he has been working as a principal at PakTurk Schools in Pakistan. Three years of this period were spent in Islamabad, three years in Karachi, and the last three years in Lahore.
When and for what purposes was the PakTurk Education Foundation established?
The first of our schools was opened in Islamabad in 1995. We founded the PakTurk Education Foundation in 1999. We have been working under the auspices of this foundation ever since. Similar institutions operate in other countries. They are generally known as ‘Turkish schools’. The name of such schools, which are named differently in each country, is PakTurk in Pakistan.
We mainly aim for providing quality education and educating young individuals with character and moral values. Everyone can teach, but not everyone can educate; we call this ‘education in true sense’. Everything is included in education; we need to move beyond a selfish approach and raise people who can prioritize social welfare and development above all else.
Studying positive sciences and knowing technology alone cannot be enough. To raise quality people and form a good society, we need to establish a good balance between science, technology and moral values. This foundation was founded by a group of educators and philanthropists, including devotees of education inspired by Fethullah Gülen’s ideas. There was a trend in Turkey where everyone who wanted to do something for the society or to contribute materially and morally to the society would think of donating to a mosque. With his approach, Muslims have built many mosques all over the world while there is a statement in the Quran that the earth is a ‘masjid’ for Muslims, you can even pray anywhere in the world. What’s important is to become ‘a happy society’ and ‘good individuals’. Buildings don’t matter unless people are educated and given ethical values. Within the framework of these ideas, he encouraged opening schools to firstly educate the people in the society.
And as Muslims, we have three basic problems. The first is education; generally, in Muslim countries, people are inadequate in education. The solution is to improve education. The second problem is poverty. To overcome this, we must learn to do at least a minimal amount of work for our people, give them some expertise, and make the most of their skills. The third problem is the lack of unity and solidarity. We are not united at the national or international level. For example, at the national level, the politics of all Muslim countries are different, even in our own country, different parties, sects, communities, etc., divide us. Human nature differs, but at least we can try to form unity by resolving these differences.
Therefore, by analysing these three main problems, we try to help solve the education problem by focusing on promoting education in all Muslim countries. This is why the PakTurk Schools and the PakTurk Education Foundation were founded.
How many branches do you have in Pakistan?
As of today, PakTurk Education Foundation has 13 schools in 7 cities, i.e., Islamabad, Peshawar, Multan, Quetta, Lahore, Khairpur Mirs and Karachi.
Can the PakTurk Foundation be called a non-governmental organization (NGO)?
This is not a government supported organization and is not managed by any NGO. It is not a commercial activity; it is a social activity definitely not based on profit and loss. It is focused only on social development. For example, if this school operates profitably, that amount will be used here to improve and expand the school and its facilities.
What is the estimated annual budget of all branches?
We have a certain amount of annual budget to run the schools. When we need to expand or rebuild our buildings, we need extra funds. In this respect, philanthropists from friendship and brotherhood associations established between Turkey and Pakistan provide support.
What kind of curriculum, environment and examination system do you adopt in these schools?
We have not introduced a new education system. You cannot bring a foreign system to any country. We follow the registration system and the ‘O-Level’ system, but also include changes. Until the third grade, we usually follow the Oxford curriculum; after the seventh grade, we leave the choice to our students.
Our students may choose the ‘Matriculation’ or the ‘O-Level’. We must also pay attention to our own educational culture. We teach in English, but we cover all subjects and concepts in our curriculum with Pakistani culture in mind.
The selection of books is important for raising individuals with good character, so we design and publish our own books, including math, science and social sciences. We focus on learning even when choosing recreational activities. Because sometimes you can entertain students, but it may teach nothing. Therefore, we try to teach everything under our purpose of building character in a balanced way between Islamic sciences and values, science, art and social studies.
What is the teacher recruitment or admission policy at PakTurk Schools? And what opportunities do you offer students?
PakTurk International Education Foundation’s schools, which have excellent academic sensitivity, are managed by highly experienced Turkish educationists and dynamic and hardworking Pakistani staff.
The academic year at PakTurk Lahore campus comprises two semesters. The Lahore campus educates students from pre-school to college level (including SSC, HSSC and O-Level).
Each classroom accommodates 24 students to ensure effective teacher-student interaction. Besides a quality education, our objective is to raise young individuals with strong character, high self-confidence, and fidelity to their nation and country. In addition, we pick our students from their homes and bring them to school with a comfortable, reliable and safe school transport system.
What is the average rate of fees and other expenses for students at PakTurk Schools?
On average, we charge monthly fees from zero to 4,000 rupees. We also offer scholarships. Around 30 percent of our students receive scholarships at PakTurk Schools.
Bright students from all schools in Sialkot, Sheikhupura, Khairpur Mirs and elsewhere choose us. We conduct aptitude tests, select successful students and offer them quality education. In addition, we offer our students the opportunity to stay in separate dormitories for male and female students.
How do you see the position and progress of PakTurk Education Foundation at the end of 13 years?
Meeting goals is not a short-term issue. We have picked a steady pace, raising our schools’ buildings, facility standards, and the education level. We are getting better every day. It is also true there is a tough competition among schools in Pakistan. Other private institutions here also have very good facilities and make a lot of progress. However, the exorbitance of tuition fees should be emphasized here. We do our best for quality education and we believe we will improve at every step.
Is there any problem or element that disturbs the institution or prevents you from serving your purpose in Pakistan?
First, I must state I am very happy to be in Pakistan. Because the people of Pakistan have always warmly welcomed the people of Turkey. They love and respect us much. We encounter difficulties while managing and operating a chain of institutions, but these are not very important, so there is no need to mention them. As Turkish nationals here, we are very happy with our Pakistani brothers and sisters.