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Educational Services

A student from Nigerian Turkish International College won 3rd place at the 53rd International Math Olympiad held in Argentiana in 2012. It is one of the most prestigious Math competition in the world where 548 students from 100 countries competed.

Access to quality education in a safe environment is an integral part of improving the lives of individuals in underserved communities. Education builds awareness and confidence, fosters growth, and provides hope for the less privileged. It is also an integral factor in eliminating prejudices and desperation; therefore, making it accessible to people of all backgrounds is one of the best ways to achieve peace in our communities.

Fethullah Gulen first began his efforts in mobilizing his fellow citizens around the cause of education in Turkey in the 1970s. By inspiring the establishment of scholarships, tutoring centers, schools and student hostels, and giving disenfranchised rural students access to education, he helped transform the social landscape of Turkey.

Since then, millions of Hizmet participants have established more than 1,000 schools, tutoring centers, colleges, hospitals and relief organizations in more than 100 countries around the world. From Eastern European and Eurasian countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, to Afghanistan and Pakistan; from South East Asian countries such as Indonesia, Philippines and Cambodia, to Australia as well as in the United States and 49 countries across Africa — Hizmet participants have established schools, dormitories and tutoring centers, taught college preparatory courses, mentored students, and provided financial aid to those in need.

Today, the so-called “Hizmet” or “Gulen-inspired” schools are considered to be among the most dynamic and worthwhile educational enterprises in the world. While their curriculum is similar to any in that country, often predetermined by local governments, focusing on traditional subjects such as science, math, social science, art and literature, what distinguishes these schools is the commitment of their educators. Hizmet-inspired faculty and staff see education as a noble cause that empowers their students and gives meaning to their lives. Religion is not taught in any school, unless mandated by the government of that country. Students have an outstanding performance in academic competitions in the natural sciences, information sciences, and languages; students actively participate in science fairs and competitions, often with great success.

Hizmet schools have been received particularly well in areas where parents are hesitant about sending girls to schools for safety or other social reasons. Mr. Gulen has long advocated for the education of women, and their having opportunities to have any role in public life including judgeship and presidency, a progressive view that stands in contrast to the views of more literalist Islamic leaders. Hizmet participants believe that the efforts to build awareness around gender equality begin with education of girls.

The Alliance and our partner organizations volunteer in impoverished areas where education is a rare privilege because of either internal warfare, limited access to economic resources, or natural disasters. Educational projects carried out by volunteers abroad include building dormitories and reading rooms, tutoring and mentoring students, teaching college preparatory courses, and providing financial aid to those in need. Other efforts include:

Kimse Yok Mu volunteers in Sudan are building a school for the region’s underserved youth.

Kimse Yok Mu volunteers in Sudan are building a school for the region’s underserved youth.

Africa: Hizmet organization Kimse Yok Mu is currently working in Sudan to build a two-story school with twelve classrooms, a library, projection room, computer classroom, and a science lab. Volunteers have been in the region since 2007, where they are building an orphanage and serving hot meals daily.

Europe: Hizmet volunteers have built a preparatory school in the Turkish region of Mardin, historically divided by the cultural conflict between the city’s Turks, Kurds, Arabs, and Christians. Atak High School not only serves as a space for learning, but also as a community meeting place for the area’s different religious groups. The school holds public seminars and social gatherings for residents where they collaborate to improve their neighborhood and learn about each other.

Middle East: Hizmet volunteers have been in Northern Iraq since 1994, building schools and a hospital. The fifteen schools of the Fezalar Educational Institution are part of an effort to bring hope and stability to a region historically plagued by ethnic conflict.

A healthy and open environment is also crucial to any student’s education – that is why we support every student’s right to receive an education in a comfortable environment. Our member organization, the Peace Islands Institute, holds an annual essay contest to promote social awareness about global issues, create tolerant communities, and allow students to express their views. This year’s theme is cyber bullying; we hope through this contest to provide a constructive way to battle cyber bullying and its effects on the learning experience. Please click here for details of how to enter 2013: Cyber Bullying: Coping with the Electronic Realm.

Our member organizations also work to enlighten and promote intercultural understanding by hosting a cultural exchange programs. The Niagara Foundation invites interested participants to travel to Turkey, where they visit various Turkish homes, cultural attractions, taste authentic Turkish cuisine, and explore the Turkish peoples’ lifestyles. Not only do participants take advantage of valuable professional networking opportunities, but they also gain comprehensive knowledge about the country and its history. See video here.

Becoming familiar with another culture can be achieved a number of ways – sampling food or reading travel books – but gaining knowledge about the history and the traditions of a country can be gained quickly by learning the language. Our partner organization, Rumi Forum, offers classes in Turkish in Washington, D.C., ranging from the beginning to expert levels. The next intensive session begins April 15th and lasts until July 7th. Visit the blog here for more information and insights about the classes.

The impact of Hizmet schools around the world will be widespread and affect future generations. For instance:

    • In conflict-ridden regions of the Philippines, Macedonia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bosnia, Hizmet schools have become bastions of inter-religious tolerance and interethnic harmony.
    • A Pak-Turk International School in a poor neighborhood south of Karachi, Pakistan caters to the Pashtun community, a strongly tribal ethnic group whose poorer fringes have been among the most susceptible to radicalism. According to the New York Times, the school provides an entirely different perspective, conveying a version of Islam that is “moderate and flexible, comfortably coexisting with the West while remaining distinct from it.” The school prescribes a Western curriculum, with courses taught in English, from math and science to literature and Shakespeare.
Light Academy, A Hizmet school in Kenya will represent Kenya in 13 international competitions, including iNESPO in Netherlands INFORMATIX in Romania and INEPO Turkey.
    • Hizmet volunteers have been in Northern Iraq since 1994, building schools and a hospital. The fifteen schools of the Fezalar Educational Institution are part of an effort to bring hope and stability to a region historically plagued by ethnic conflict.
    • Hizmet volunteers have built a preparatory school in the Turkish region of Mardin, historically divided by the cultural conflict between the city’s Turks, Kurds, Arabs, and Christians. Atak High School not only serves as a space for learning, but also as a community meeting place for the area’s different religious groups. The school holds public seminars and social gatherings for residents where they collaborate to improve their neighborhood and learn about each other.
    • Hizmet organization Kimse Yok Mu is currently working in Sudan to build a two-story school with twelve classrooms, a library, projection room, computer classroom, and a science lab. Volunteers have been in the region since 2007, where they are building an orphanage and serving hot meals daily.
The Filipino-Turkish Tolerance school
  • The Filipino-Turkish Tolerance School has been sowing the seeds of tolerance and coexistence Zamboanga, Philippines, the heart of the strife-torn region. Zamboanga Peninsula is home to 70 per cent Christians and 30% percent Buddhist and Muslims. “It also has one of the best dormitories not only in Zamboanga, but in Mindanao. The Filipino-Turkish Tolerance School, considered one of the best in the region, has produced a number of students that topped in many international competitions and were even cited for their excellent educational skills,” noted The Mindanao Examiner newspaper in one of its story in 2007.
  • In Myanmar, in the wake of Cyclone Nargis, Hizmet volunteers repaired the existing infrastructure of a school, constructed a new school building and a sports facility.
  • In West Bank, Hizmet volunteers launched “Scholarship for the Orphaned Palestinian Children Project,” where they covered education needs and expenses of 1000 orphans for a year.
  • In the U.S., the Alliance member organization, the Peace Islands Institute, holds an annual essay contest to promote social awareness about global issues, create tolerant communities, and allow students to express their views. This year’s theme is cyber bullying; we hope through this contest to provide a constructive way to battle cyber bullying and its effects on the learning experience. Please click here for details of how to enter 2013: Cyber Bullying: Coping with the Electronic Realm.

Hizmet participants believe that education is the antidote against ignorance and the most effective tool for empowering individuals, building cultural awareness, and positively impacting society for generations to come.