First Kurdish University Opens in Diyarbakir
The Mesopotamia foundation has already begun preparations for the opening of a university that will offer courses primarily in Kurdish. The university is named Amed University, using the Kurdish name for Diyarbakır. The university also offers courses in Turkish, English, Armenian and Syriac.
Selim Ölçer, the head of the board of trustees of the foundation, said efforts to establish the Mesopotamia Foundation were launched by a group of 15 people about one year ago. “Currently we have over 200 founding members. And the foundation has officially been established,” he stated.
According to Ölçer, the main objective of the foundation was to open a university and other institutions of education in Turkey's Southeast that can offer a multicultural education in multiple languages. According to Ölçer, the university will contribute to the preservation of the Kurdish language.
“We will hold a congress for the Mesopotamia Foundation on June 23. We will ask contributors to donate to the foundation. When the work is complete, we will apply to the Higher Education Board [YÖK] to approve the opening of our university,” he added.
The idea to open a Kurdish university was first brought up in October 2011, and the foundation -- though not officially established then -- began holding meetings with businessmen, academics and rights advocates to begin preparations for the creation of the university. Sources say the university is expected to be opened by 2016.
The Mesopotamia Foundation's secretary-general, Ramazan Tunç, said the university will offer prep classes for students who do not know either Kurdish or English. It is not yet clear what other academic departments the university will have. “There is a huge need in Turkey for a university that teaches in Kurdish,” he said, adding that such a university has not been opened so far due to a ban on education in the Kurdish language. The university, if established, will be a private one, not state-run. “The university will have international accreditation. It will not work on a local basis. It will have joint projects and programs with universities in the UK, Norway and Sweden,” Tunç noted.
According to Tunç, the foundation expects the university to draw students from Syria, Iraq and Iran as well as Turkey. “We have great ambition to turn Diyarbakır into a center of education and culture,” he stated.
Currently, there is one university, Dicle University, in Diyarbakır. Efforts are ongoing to open a second one, Selahaddin Eyyubi University; Amed University will be the third in the province.