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Is Ankara’s religious education drive stumbling?

Despite Ankara’s unrelenting drive to expand religious education, enrollment in religious schools has remained below the government’s targets.

The vast expansion of religious schools in Turkey — one of the hallmarks of the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) 16-year rule — has become another point of ideological polarization in a deeply divided society. The public imam hatip schools — which offer extensive Quranic studies — are growing into a dominant element in the education system. But popular objection to their expansion is also growing.

According to Education Ministry figures, some 627,000 students are currently enrolled in 1,605 imam hatip high schools across the country. The ministry’s investment plans envisage a continued expansion of the schools, but whether this means a growing demand is an open question. Ministry statistics might give an idea.

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