Compulsory education lasts 12 years (6 to 17 years old) covering primary, secondary and high school and is free in state schools. Early childhood care and education is not compulsory and not guaranteed as a legal right but it is compulsory for children age 3-6 in special education. The central government is responsible for education expenses of public schools and for special needs students in private schools. The government covers operational costs such as teachers’ salaries and teaching materials while parent’s associations cover the remaining expenses. Tertiary institutions receive funding from the national budget based on set criteria (the age of the institution and the rate of full scholarship students), from tuition fees and self-generated revenues.
Turkey has a centralized governance structure. The Ministry of Education is the central authority that oversees preliminary and implementation stages of funding and shares decision making on financial management with provincial authorities. The Turkish Grand National Assembly rectifies the budgets of public universities while tertiary institutions have some autonomy. School funding is allocated based on an increase over the previous year's school budget. The system does not currently have a weighted funding formula however, by 2023 the country plans to implement methods for additional financing. School development plans and budgets will be set up for each school, favoring those schools in unfavorable and disadvantaged conditions. Likewise, the private sector and civil society will be called upon to contribute to the financing of the education system.
In 2012, the annual budget of the Ministry of Education was USD 5.4 billion (TRY 39.1 billion) or 2.75% of GDP and Turkey has 26,9 million school aged people. In 2019, the education sector expenditure was USD 17.7 billion (TRY 126.9 billion).
In 2015, the government of Turkey reached 6.66 million students or 24.75% of the school-age population through education assistance programs for disadvantage students for which it spent USD 107.2 million (TRY 768.4 million) or % 0.012 of the 2015 GDP. In 2019, the government spent USD 241,740 (TRY 1.7 million) or 0.18% of the government expenditure. Among those programs are:
Strengthening pre-school education project: Implemented by the Ministry of National Education to increase enrollment and attendance of disadvantage children in preschool. In 2015, the budget for the program was USD 191,199 (EUR 1.37 million).
Lunch and School transport: Implemented by the Ministry of Education, it targets primary and secondary students who are in settlements without a school, underpopulated or dispersed or in multi-grade school. In 2010, it benefited 800,000 children or 2.97% of the school aged population and in 2011 the program spent USD 27.9 million (TRY 265 millions) or 26% of the education assistance budget.
Special Needs Students: In 2012, the government provided USD 4786 (TRY 34,300) or 1.32% of the Ministry of Education’s budget for special education schools. The government helps improve outcomes for disadvantaged and special need students through the Strengthening Special Education Project (2011-13) and the International inspiration project to improve the lives of disabled and disadvantage children through physical activity at school.
Ministry of National Education Scholarships
In 2015, it provided scholarships to 244,141 students or 9% of the school-age population and spent USD 61.7million (TRY 442.6 million) or 0.05% of GDP. As part of the scholarship, there is a component for training materials assistance through which school materials are provided to students in need. This component was USD 14.4 million (TRY 103.4 million) or 23% of the amount spent on this program.
In partnership with the European Union, the United States, Norway, and the World Bank, the General Directorate for Social Assistance and Solidarity (SYGM) of the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services operates this program since 2003. The program targets the poorest 6% of the population identifying them by income in the poorest areas. In 2017, the program extended to cover refugee children. The program is conditional on families using health and education services (at least 80% of school attendance). The monthly allocation is TRY 30-55 (USD 4-8) with girls and lower secondary students receiving more than boys and primary students.
The program represents one third of the SYGM’s budget, amounting to TRY 664.1 million (USD 94.4 millions) or 0.07% of the GDP in 2015. In 2020, it reached 608, 082 children or 2.25% of the school aged population.