Common culture, language and history of the Turkic Speaking States are the main pillars that underpin the cooperation under Turkic Council, making this regional cooperation unique in comparison to others. It was symbolic that the Second Summit of the Turkic Council was held under the theme of “Educational, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation”.
Turkic Council stresses the importance of the role of Education and Science. The area is one of the best tools for social change, economic development, and prosperity in our countries. Turkic Council holds Ministerial Meetings on educational issues, develops and implement special programs that help young Turkic generations to join the existing educational system.
Five meetings of Ministers of Education were held so far, the last meeting was convened on 15 March 2019 in Bishkek, while Senior Officials of the Ministries of Education (SOM) gathered seven times with the last meeting taking place on 14 March 2019 in Bishkek. Activities carried out within the Turkic University Union and Turkic Academy, projects such as Common Turkic History, Literature and Geography Textbooks, the student exchange program among educational professionals and students of secondary/high schools and the other programs taken within the Turkic Council will take the relations in the field of education among the Member States to a new stage.
Cooperation among the Schools
The cooperation among the schools includes three main focus areas: the exchange program for students, the exchange program for educational professionals, and the Sister School Project.
With the assistance of the respective Ministries of Education, Turkic Council organized two exchange programs for the students of the secondary/high schools in Turkey (2016) and in Azerbaijan (2018). The next exchange program is planned to take place in Kazakhstan at the first half of 2019.
The projects proved to be useful instruments for the students to understand similar cultural values and perspectives. They also enhance familiarization of students with other Turkic languages and increases awareness and general knowledge of the students towards the brotherly Turkic states.
At the Seventh Meeting of the Senior Officials of the Ministries of Education of the Turkic Council held on 14 March 2019 in Bishkek, the Parties welcomed and approved the setting to start the exchange for educational professional and launch Sister School Project as well. They approved the concept papers of the said initiatives and will deliver the presentation of the efforts at the next ministerial meeting. If accepted, the Turkish side indicated their readiness to undertake the first responsibilities regarding the exchange program for educational professionals. The future projects promise to be a meaningful, reciprocal and sustainable long-term partnership among the schools of the Turkic states.
Regarding the Educational Exchange Program for educational professionals of the Member States prepared by the Kyrgyz side, Parties agreed to endorse the Educational Exchange Program and welcomed the initiative of the Turkish side to launch the first Educational Exchange Program in 2020.
Common Turkic Textbooks
During the Fifth Meeting of Ministers of Education on 15 March 2019 in Bishkek, parties stressed the importance of completing the preparation of the text of Common Turkic History Textbook covering the period till the 15thcentury by the next Summit of the Turkic Council to be held 2020 in Turkey.
The Turkic Academy also had instructions to initiate the writing of textbooks on common Turkic geography and Turkic Literature Textbook. On the Fifth Meeting of Ministers on Education on 15 March 2019 in Bishkek, it was praised the endeavors of the Turkic Academy and the Member States to prepare the Common Geography Textbook and called for continuing those efforts.
Cooperation among Universities
Established after the Ministers signed the Directive in 2013 in Eskişehir, Turkic University Union (Union) promotes different modes of cooperation among the universities of the Member States. Since 2014, the number of member universities grew from 14 to 22. During the last the Fourth General Assembly of the Turkic University Union (TURKUNIB), hosted by the Khoja Akhmed Yassawi International Kazakh-Turkish University (Akhmed Yassawi University) on 24 April 2019 in Turkistan, Turkey’s Gazi University, Niğde Ömer Halisdemir University, Cappadocia University and Hungary’s Szeged University was accepted as new members of the TURKUNIB. The inclusion of new members will generate enthusiasm and contribute to the promotion of the activities within the TURKUNIB, such as Orkhun Exchange Program, especially among students. Since its initiation, the Turkic University Union owns and operates large and successful record labels such as Orkhun Exchange Program or Student Council. Besides these, the direct coordination of the former Chair-in-Office Kyrgyzstan-Turkey Manas University helped accomplish prominent endeavors such as Tourism Guide of the Turkic World, the report briefing the relations among the Member States over the last 25 years and the document on the universal citizenship education among the Turkic peoples.
The Union has many lines of action such as the Orkhun Exchange Program, Sports Games of the Union and Student Council. To get ahead in the said programs, since 2014, the Secretariat organized five meetings at the level of Rectors and Vice-rectors and four General Assemblies. The former helps coordinate the activities within the Union while the latter adopts necessary decisions relating to the organizations of the Union.
The Secretariat advanced dramatically on the way to making the Orkhun process a fully-fledged exchange program. Over the past four years, the Turkic Council convened a variety of different thematic meetings aiming at integrating diverse educational modalities of the member universities such as the Bologna Process, Erasmus Plus, and European Credit Transfer System. These meetings included different sectoral and technical gatherings, field studies on the spot, and extraordinary conventions. As a result, during the 5th Union meeting, the parties adopted the draft regulation of the program, which was a massive step in its realization. The sides started the pilot phase of the project in the academic year 2017-2018. 43 students of member universities from the departments of International Relations and Political Science benefited from the program. The Parties agreed at the last Assembly in Turkistan, to include all relevant Departments depending on the capacity, which initially started for the Departments of the International Relations and Political Science, and Department of Turkology, and make the necessary amendments in the Transitional Article 1 of the “Regulation on the Orkhun Exchange Pilot Program of the Turkic Council Turkic University Union”.
Started in 2018, the Sports Games, held within the Union, is another platform that served the purposes of establishing a tradition of sports events/competitions within the structure and promoting solidarity and ties of friendship among the university students in the Turkic states. The former Chair-in-Office Kyrgyzstan-Turkey Manas University organized the first games. The sports games proved a significant success by bringing together more than 300 athletes from member universities. The current Chair-in-Office of the Union Khoja Akhmet Yassawi University will host the next sports games in 2020.
Another recent initiative within the Union, the Student Council, convened three meetings since its inception. Organization of cultural nights, friendship tournaments, and other social events that foster the sense of belongingness and inclusion among the participants are standing on the shoulders of the Student Council members.