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Understanding schooling process at basic high schools : a multiple-case study

Yıldırım Taştı, Özlem Fatma
The purpose of this multiple-case study was to understand the schooling process at Basic High Schools (BHSs). The data were gathered through semi-structured interviews and observations in five BHSs in Ankara. In this regard, students, parents, teachers, school principals, school counselors, and vice-principal were interviewed. Besides, in-depth field notes were taken in each of the cases during the whole school hours in a week. Content analysis was employed to analyze the qualitative data. The findings revealed that it is difficult to categorize BHSs as schools due to several reasons. First reason was related to the mission of these institutions. BHSs had a dual education structure: operating as schools and preparing students for the university entrance examination as dershanes, with an emphasis on the latter. Second, it was observed that BHSs lacked many of the academic and social facilities an effective school must possess. More importantly, it was disclosed that the schooling practices were limited to implementation of the formal curricula and other processes of schooling such as offering elective courses and implementing extracurricular activities were neglected. This view of schooling attributes a passive role to students which might prevent them to develop higher-order-thinking skills. Lastly, since BHSs were categorized as private schools, students had to pay a school fee which was more than dershanes’ and not affordable for low-income families. Therefore, it can be argued that the closing of dershanes and transforming them to BHSs was not a remedy for the existing inequalities in Turkish education system, rather, legitimized them.