26 SES 16 A, A Glocal Look at Educational Leadership and Policy for Schools in Challenging Circumstances
People who live in rural regions of Turkey suffer from “uneven economic, social and educational development” (Cifci & Cin, 2017, p.2). As such, the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) implemented some regulations to keep teachers located in rural, remote areas, especially in Eastern Turkey. For instance, newly appointed teachers must stay and serve for four years in rural parts. Even though there is a national curriculum that aims to provide the same quality of education to students all around Turkey, due to regional problems, this is not always the case. Some of the areas the teachers live are remote and neither they or the students have access to many facilities. Issues such as teacher and school material shortage, language issues, families’ attitudes towards education, difficult climate conditions and even lack of water and electricity cause disruptions in education (Akdag, 2014). Teachers often struggle to meet students’ educational needs because a proper school setting is not always available. Our research, therefore, focuses on the challenges of the early childhood and primary education teachers face in rural cities of Turkey such as Iğdır, Ağrı, Antep, Hakkari, Urfa and Van where poverty levels are high and students lack necessary equipment not only for school but for their basic needs. The teachers take part in our research work in small villages near these cities and deal with students that come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our paper, in line with this year’s conference theme, explores the effects of challenging school circumstances on teachers and looks at how the teachers struggle to maintain their social and emotional wellbeing whilst working in remote areas with poor living and teaching conditions. We draw on critical education theorists such as Ball, and Bourdieu to analyse the issues teachers have, as well as the difficulties students go through, to come up with better policy approaches and initiatives for rural education in Turkey. The data for this research is gathered from semi-structured interviews with pre- and primary school teachers living and working in eastern cities of Turkey and based on thematic analysis to identify the different categories and themes that emerged from the interviews (Boyatzis, 1998). The findings so far indicate that the majority of teachers struggle to have basic materials for their classrooms and students (i.e. stationary) since the schools in remote areas do not receive the necessary means of support. Findings will be further discussed during the session.
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