This is an initiative to ensure multilingual pre-primary education for Kurdish children who do not have the opportunity to receive formal education in their mother tongue. Multilingual education is offered on the basis of the mother tongue: pre-primary children begin in their mother tongue, and they learn English and the neighbouring dialect through a method based on comparison.
In Northern Kurdistan these schools go by the name of Ibistane Azad: Free Schools. In the largest stateless nation in which the mother tongue is banned, small children have started to speak in Kurdish. To speak and to learn. Until not long ago something of that nature would have been unthinkable for those who were keeping Kurdish going underground, or for those who had lost the language completely, as a result of assimilation policies. Five schools are already up and running in the capital city of Diyarbakir, which has a population of two million people. One of them is named after Ferzad Kemanger as a tribute to the teacher executed by Iran.
The Ferzad Kemanger is one of the first three schools opened in Northern Kurdistan last year. During the current academic year firm steps have been taken and another 11 primary schools have been set up. In Hakkari, Sirnak, Mardin, Cizre, Yuksekova… a total of 750 children are studying in Kurdish there.
The schools are illegal, and are operating under tough conditions, but nevertheless they are open; they are on occasions closed down, and then they open again; the teachers are also arrested, but they keep going: alive. The town councils have no powers in the sphere of education, but by taking advantage of the gaps in the current status quo, they have started up schools on their own initiative. The HDP Peoples’ Democratic Party gained control of about a thousand municipal councils in local council elections, and across the frontier, Kurdish is being incorporated into the education system thanks to the autonomy there.
The children not only speak in Kurdish in these schools, they are being educated on the basis of gender equality and respect for the environment.