Independent and cutting-edge analysis on Turkey and its neighborhood

The dependency ratio (the ratio of the number of children and the elderly to the number of the working-age people) is decreasing significantly in Turkey, offering a very important opportunity for the country to accelerate its socio-economic development. Yet, the opportunity will not last forever: it is expected to close around 2020. The best instrument in the hands of Turkey to turn this opportunity to a real advantage is improving the quality of education of its education services. The results of international tests, however, do not present an optimistic picture: According to the PISA 2009 results released by the OECD in December 2010, Turkey stands as the 32nd among 34 OECD countries, and 40 percent of Turkish 15-year-old students cannot reach basic competence level in mathematical literacy. Moreover, socioeconomic background plays a huge role in determining the success of the Turkish student, and schools are more or less segregated in line with the socio-economic background characteristics of their students. This paper underscores possible reasons and results of this situation, and what alternative future directions Turkey may take if learning outcomes can be improved.