By Martin Paul
After failing in his bid to make governments across the world close schools run by Hizmet Movement associates, President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has established a decoy foundation to achieve his aim.
The NGO, named Maarif Foundation, could not secure financial support from local Turkish businessmen, forcing the government to turn to gulf countries for funding.
It would be recalled that Turkish government made vigorous efforts to make other countries close Hizmet Movement-affiliated schools on the unsupported claims that the movement orchestrated the July 15 failed attempt to topple it.
On September 14, Minister of Education in Turkey, Ismet Yilmaz, announced Maarif Foundation was planning to take over 65 schools linked with Hizmet Movement in 15 unnamed countries.
Unanimous government sources said the latest move is aimed at taking control of the schools and closing them afterwards.
Spokesperson for Bluebook Educational Transparency Initiative, Mr. Joshua Oboh, condemned the move.
He said: “It’s not workable. They don’t have a right to take over those schools. Are they not private investments?
“The schools in Nigeria have been doing so well, bringing trophies to us in international competitions, such as International Mathematics Olympiads.
“They’ve also been awarding scholarships to brilliant srudents who would not otherwise afford the standard of education they offer.”
Turkish authorities launched a massive crackdown on the Hizmet Movement after the July 15, failed coup, arresting 20,000 public servants and dismissing nearly 150,000 public officials over alleged ties to the movement.
The government has also confiscated the properties of hundreds of companies and arrested leading businessmen over suspected links to the movement.
Despite tremendous efforts exerted by the government, only a few countries have given in to pressure from Ankara over the shutdown of Hizmet-linked schools, with a majority of them refusing to meet the demands of the Turkish government.