Turkey allows schools to teach Kurdish

Turkey’s government is letting some schools teach Kurdish. Only two decades ago speaking Kurdish in public was a crime, but now the government is easing its restriction on the language of the Kurds. The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has stated that this is a historic step for Turkey’s largest minority group. The Kurds form about 20% of the country’s population, mainly in the southeastern part of the country. But many have gone to Istanbul and other cities in search of jobs and a better life.

Kurds have been fighting for more rights and a certain amount of autonomy in Turkey. In the last decades thousands of people have been killed in fighting between the Turkish government and the Kurdish rebel group PKK.


For a long time Turkey has banned Kurdish because government officials are afraid that it would separate the country and make the PKK too strong. In the latest statement Erdogan said that if a school has enough students who want to take Kurdish as an elective subject a school is allowed to offer lessons. The Turkish government has found out that it cannot solve the Kurdish problem through violence alone. Kurdish language and culture is spreading increasingly in Turkey, Iraq and Syria.

For Kurdish activists the action does not go far enough. They demand the right to educate students in Kurdish in all subjects. The European Union has repeatedly put pressure on Turkey to pass better laws for Kurdish citizens. It says that if Turkey wants to become a full member of the EU minority rights must be granted.



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  • activist = a person who fights for something they believe in
  • autonomy = self-government, self-rule
  • ban = forbid
  • certain amount = some
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • crime = against the law
  • decade = ten years
  • demand = want
  • ease = make easier
  • elective subject = a subject that you can choose and do not have to take
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • grant = give
  • increasingly = more, very much
  • law = rules in a country
  • minority = small group of people who are ruled by a larger group
  • official = person in a high position in the government
  • pass = make
  • population = the people who live in a country
  • public = where everyone can see and hear you
  • repeatedly = over and over again
  • restriction = law that limits something or controls what people do
  • rights = something that you are officially allowed to do
  • separate = divide, split
  • solve = work out an answer to something
  • spread = move from one place to another
  • state = to say officially