Turkish Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz said the Maarif Foundation, established by the government to deal with Turkish schools abroad, is planning to take over 65 schools that are linked to the Gülen movement in 15 countries.
Speaking to a crowd in the central province of Sivas while celebrating Eid al-Adha with colleagues, Minister Yılmaz talked about new plans to remedy a teacher shortage caused by massive purges conducted by the government following a coup attempt on July 15.
The government has dismissed 28,163 teachers over alleged links to the failed coup attempt and suspended 20,000 more, the minister said, adding that the government is planning to hire nearly 40,000 new teachers this year to address the shortage. The minister said 30,000 teachers who were appointed in February will start working this year.
The dismissal of tens of thousands of teachers has led to concerns of a shortage as the new school year approaches.
The minister also said the government will finalize efforts to complete the takeover of 65 schools abroad linked to US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. Inspired by Gülen, Turks have established schools and universities in 170 countries.
The government puts the blame on Gülen for the July 15 coup attempt, a claim strongly denied by the scholar. Since then, Turkish authorities have launched a massive crackdown on the movement, arresting 20,000 public servants and dismissing nearly 150,000 public officials over alleged ties to the movement. The government has also confiscated the properties of hundreds of companies and arrested leading businessmen over suspected links to the movement.
Despite tremendous efforts exerted by the government, only a few countries have given in to pressure from Ankara over the shutdown of Gülen-linked schools, with a majority of them refusing to meet the demands of the Turkish government.