Buhari in handshake with Erdogan

As Turkish authorities move to set up Turkish Maarif Foundation (TMF) office in Nigeria to take over schools and other institutions previously run by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) in the country, The Daily Metro writes.

Following President MuhammaduBuhari’s visit to Ankara in October,Turkish officials on Monday visited Nigeria to discuss how to duly register Turkish Maarif Foundation(TMF) office in Nigeria and also strengthen ties in the area of education, infrastructure, trade, agriculture, health and tourism.

Addressing the press, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Turkish Maarif Foundation and Special Adviser to Turkish Prime Minister, Prof. CahitBagci, said that TMF is a not-for-profit public body constitutionally authorized to runs schools outside Turkey.

“We arrived in Abuja, Nigeria, to develop relations between our countries.

“As you may remember, President Buhari and our President RecepTayyipErdogan had a meeting in Ankara and they declared at a press briefing and during bilateral meetings that both sides have the intention and are willing to develop relations in all sectors…

“I hope this first visit will help to develop relations between our countries. We had several meetings today with ministers, advisers to the president and some NGOs with a view to developing relations on education,” Bagci said.

According to some documents made available to LEADERSHIP, TMF serves as a gateway to international educational arena that will contribute to enhancing cultural and civilizational interaction and paving the way for achieving the common wellbeing.

Together with the Ministry of National Education, TMF which was established by the enacted law on June 17, 2016 by the Turkish parliament is the sole entity authorized to provide educational services abroad.

As a non-profit public educational foundation, TMF is entitled to run institutions from pre-school to higher education.

The documents further disclosed TMF offers scholarship for all levels of education in national, regional and global scale. It provides educational grants, cash supports and in-kind supports with educational materials such as books, clothes, computers and software to the Nigerian students and other international students in all levels of education from pre-school to higher education.

TMF establishes facilities such as dormitories and lodgings that will meet the needs of the people who provide educational services and study in educational institutions.

It has been reported that TMF has been taking over schools around the world previously run by the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which was behind last year’s failed coup in Turkey.

Ismail Tamer, a lawmaker who heads the Turkey-Nigeria Parliamentary Friendship Group, who was also part of the delegation to Nigeria, said that negotiations had been opened with Nigerian officials about tackling FETO.

Referring to FETO-linked schools in Nigeria, Bagci said they were not recognized by Turkey.

“Young people and children who graduate from these schools do not have the opportunity to study in Turkey,” he said. “We do not close schools; we want to take over to be able to manage them better.”

According to a report by the Turkish intelligence agency released in May, FETO controlled around 2,800 schools and educational institutions, companies, foundations, media outlets, NGOs, hospitals, language and culture centers in 170 countries before the foiled coup attempt.

Since last year it was founded, TMFhas assumed control of 32 FETO-linked schools in Somalia, Guinea, Niger, Sudan and the Congo, according to Turkey’s Education Minister IsmetYilmaz.

Meanwhile, FETO is considered a terror organisation by Turkey, its leader FetullahGulen is on Turkey’s most wanted terrorists’ list and is accused of establishing and leading a “parallel state,” composed of a network of followers who have infiltrated the judiciary, police force, army and other state agencies to control these institutions.

An extensive investigation into the organisation began after FETO allegedly attempted to overthrow the democratically elected Turkish government via a judicial coup in December 2013.

FETO was also behind the botched July 15, 2016 military coup in Turkey, the failed coup attempt resulted in the deaths of at least 246 people and wounded over 2000. Turkey has requested the extrication of Gulen, who is currently in self-imposed exile in the US.

The Turkish government has reportedly said that the country did not own any school in Nigeria, adding that all the schools bearing Turkey’s name were owned and operated by the proscribed terrorist organisation.

A document released by the Turkish embassy listed the indicted schools and institutions as Surat Educational Limited, Abuja; Nigerian-Turkish International School, in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe, Ogun and Lagos; and the Nigerian-Turkish Nile University, Abuja.

Others, according to the embassy, are The Association of Businessmen and Investors of Nigeria and Turkey/Abinat, Abuja and Lagos; Ufuk Dialogue Foundation, Abuja; Nigerian-Turkish Nizamiye Hospital, Abuja; and Vefa Travel Agency, Abuja.

However, Turkey and its universitieshave continued to become an increasingly popular destination for students from around the globe, signalling the importance of the growing education sector for European giant.

Between the 2005-2006 and the 2011-2012 school year, the number of international students attending Turkish universities more than doubled, from 15,481 to 31,170.

The growth of foreign students has been matched by the expansion of higher education in Turkey, where 50 public universities and 36 private foundation universities were established between 2006 and 2011, bringing the total number to 165. The same period witnessed an increase of 40 percent in the number of Turkish students attending university.

Students come from 155 countries to study in Turkey. In 2011-2012, Azerbaijan had the largest representation with more than 4,200 students, followed by Turkmenistan with 4,110 and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus with about 3,800. Europe also showed strong numbers, with both Germany and Greece sending more than 1,300 students.

The experiences foreign students gain during their time in Turkey are of lasting value for foreign and Turkish students alike, helping to deepen ties between individuals that span national borders and erase stereotypes.

The motivation to pursue higher education in Turkey varies from student to student. For some it is the prospect of an inexpensive and quality education. For others it’s the opportunity to learn Turkish and receive an education in one of the many English language universities.

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