From the beginning of Turkish Republic till date, Turkish Education System (TES) has been steered by a handful of politicians and civil servants, who enjoy maximum centralized authority. Over the years, therefore, centralized management has repeatedly been blamed for the deadlocks hampering progress in the TES. Turkish scholars often seem to find intellectual shelter in extolling decentralization, supposedly the exact opposite of centralization, as a panacea for all the dilemmas facing education. Indeed, in academic writings about the issue, scholars generally refer to decentralization unquestioningly as the transfer of authority and power from the center to the periphery. While there is a prevalent faith among Turkish scholars in the curative characteristics of decentralization, the broader literature suggests that decentralization neither helps solve educational deadlocks nor necessarily means an effective transfer of authority. Moreover, national idiosyncrasies often define the extent and direction of decentralization, as well as its effectiveness, as can be seen in different implementations in several countries throughout the world. On another note, the decentralization discourse centered on the education sector also has direct implications on Turkish politics, since the accusations of dictatorship leveled against the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) have been strengthened by its tight grip on policy-making power in education. The following article attempts to build a dual argument, asserting that decentralization is not a solution to the dilemmas facing the TES and that the ruling JDP is no dictator.
Key words: Centralization, decentralization, the ruling JDP government.
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