CoHE President Attends Turkey-Africa Conference of Ministers of Education

October 19, 2017 / Istanbul

 

CoHE President Prof. Dr. M. A. Yekta Saraç attended the opening ceremony of the "Turkey-Africa Conference of Ministers of Education" held by the Ministry of National Education in Istanbul on October 19-21, 2017.

 

The opening ceremony of the conference was held at Istanbul Ciragan Palace and National Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz, heads from the relevant institutions and ministers of African countries also participated in the event.

 

CoHE President Prof. Dr. M. A. Yekta Saraç made a speech in the opening of the conference which was organized to improve relations between Turkey and African countries in education, strengthen the existing cooperation and share information about the Turkish education system.

 

He began his speech by saying that the Turkish higher education system had made great progress in recent years and noted that there were a total of 179 universities, 112 state universities and 67 foundation universities, and five foundation vocational schools. He emphasized that the total number of enrolled students in the Turkish higher education system is 7,2 million, including students in open education and distance learning programs.

 

He noted that Turkey had become the second country after Russia in terms of the highest number of students in the European Higher Education Area. He said that the number of faculty members is about 152,000, of which half of them are faculty members with doctoral degrees.

 

He underlined that the Turkish higher education system has become prominent in the region not only in terms of quantity but also in terms of qualified education and stated that it had made a significant leap in internationalization in recent years.

 

President Saraç noted that CoHE had attached great importance to internationalization in the last two years. He said that he met with the ministers of 22 countries that were responsible for higher education and signed various cooperation agreements after negotiating the possibilities of possible cooperation in the fields of higher education and scientific research. "We developed a new format in the Mevlana Exchange Program, a program created and carried out by the Council of Higher Education, and supported the project-focused collaboration of Turkish universities with international universities. We decided to support 23 international projects from 19 Turkish universities financially last year. We will continue to support them this year as well," he said.

 

He noted that the Council of Higher Education had recently organized a meeting on the theme of "Forming a Higher Education Area among the Islamic Countries" and that many rectors from 11 African countries attended the meeting. He underlined that they released the Ankara Declaration at the end of the meeting and said:

 

"The relations between Turkey and African countries have developed in every field over the last fifteen years. After the declaration of the year 2005 as the "Year of Africa" by the Turkish government, the "Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit" was organized in 2008. Our relations have evolved into a process that can be named as "Turkey-Africa Partnership" with the introduction of the "Africa Strategy Document" which was adopted in 2010.

 

As the new CoHE administration, we launched the "Expansion Program for Africa" in 2015. The aim of this program is to share the opportunities we have in the field of higher education in Turkey with the African countries and train academics, administrative and technical staff in Turkish universities that will take part in the development of the African countries. We signed memorandums of understandings and cooperation agreements with the ministers responsible for higher education of nine African countries including Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Djibouti, Sudan and Rwanda to develop cooperation in higher education and scientific research in the last two years. We have identified our priority fields in our cooperation with some countries and matched the universities that could cooperate in these fields. We are very pleased to see that the initiatives of the new CoHE have already started to yield positive results."

 

CoHE President also noted that the number of African students who receive education in the Turkish higher education system had also increased significantly and said, "While the number of students of the ten African countries that had the highest number of students in the Turkish higher education system was 5,600 in the 2014-2015 academic year, this figure has increased by 62%, reaching 9,054 in the 2016-2017 academic year."

 

CoHE President Saraç expressed the importance of the special effort by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who paid 39 visits to 23 African countries as the Prime Minister and President, for the cooperation and friendly relations to reach its current level with the African countries in the last 15 years and said, "As of today, we are represented by 39 embassies and 4 consulates in Africa. There were 10 diplomatic missions of the African countries in Ankara and 12 Turkish diplomatic missions in the continent in 2009. The number of diplomatic missions of the African countries in Ankara has increased from 10 to 32 over the past eight years."

 

CoHE President Saraç concluded his speech by emphasizing that the conference, which was organized to improve the relations between Turkey and African countries, strengthen the existing cooperation and share information about the Turkish education system, would contribute greatly to further develop the relations.

 

Click here to read the full transcript of the speech made by CoHE President Prof. Dr. M. A. Yekta Saraç. (In Turkish)

 

After the opening speeches, CoHE Executive Board Member Prof. Dr. Rahmi Er made a presentation on the Turkish higher education system.