Teachers’ Day is celebrated in many countries on October 5th, but in Turkey, it is celebrated on November 24th. We would like to both celebrate the day of our valued teachers and explain why Turkey adopted November 24 as Teachers’ Day.
The history of World Teachers’ Day is based on the recommendation of an intergovernmental conference on October 5th, 1966 in Paris. This historical decision, which concerns all world teachers and determines the status of the teaching profession, was held under the leadership of international teacher organizations, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO and ILO. 28 years after the conference, in 1994, October 5 was declared World Teachers’ Day.
According to historical and cultural milestones, there are countries that celebrate Teachers’ Day on different dates. For example, January 30 in Greece, February 28 in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Morocco, Qatar, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Oman, Jordan and Yemen, May 2 in Iran, first Tuesday of May in the United States, May 15 in Mexico, September 10 in China, and November 24 in Turkey.
Why November 24?
Since 1981, Teacher’s Day is celebrated on November 24th in Turkey. As it can be expected, this specific date has an importance for Turkey.
The founder and one of the leaders of the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the greatest genius of our age, is mostly known with his military genius. However, Atatürk was a leader with a vast knowledge and vision in economic, social and cultural fields. He believed that the education level of Turkish society and especially women should be increased, and the development of literature with the western world was important. For this reason, in 1928, he completed the preliminary studies and presented the new Turkish alphabet which was inspired by the Latin alphabet and revised in accordance with the Turkish phonetics.
On 8th of August 1928, at the ball held in Sarayburnu Park, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk heralded to the public the new Turkish alphabet. His part of the speech is as follows:
“(…) A lot of work has been done, but there is not last but very important thing that we are obliged to do today, but there is another very necessary task: The new Turkish letters must be learned quickly. Teach them to the citizens, women, men, porters and boatmen. Know this as the duty of patriotism and nationalism. Think about that ten percent of a nation, a social community, can read and write, and eighty percent do not. Those who are human should be ashamed for it.
Immediately thereafter, on August 11th, sample alphabet classes were opened in Dolmabahçe Palace. The laws relating to the Letter Revolution on November 1st, 1928 by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was adopted and entered into force on November 3rd. With Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s determination and his belief in Turkish society, a short period of 3 months was determined for learning and using the new letters. As of January 1st, 1929, the law prohibits state offices from using the old letters. On November 24th, 1929, the National Schools were opened, and efforts were made to increase the number of literate people.
The leader of the War of Independence and the founding leader of the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk has been the protagonist and headteacher during all this process. On November 24th,1928, the opening date of the National Schools, he was given the title of Head Teacher. 100 years after his birth, Teachers’ Day was declared on November 24th, 1981.
Congratulations on Turkey’s Teacher’s Day,
and we remember the Head Teacher Mustafa Kemal Atatürk respectfully.