Following devastating earthquakes in the eastern provinces of Turkey, more than 600 people have died, amongst them 75 teachers. With winter approaching fast, survivors are facing tremendous difficulties. EI and its affiliates Egitim Sen, Turkey, and Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW) of Germany are calling for donations to help the disaster's victims.
While people were trying to heal the wounds of a first earthquake, a second earthquake of 5.6 Richter scale magnitude caused another loss of life and more damage in the city - only three weeks after the first one. The first earthquake of magnitude 7.2 had already hit the city of Van badly and hundreds of people lost their life, homes, and relatives in the city center of Van and especially in its province Erci?.
Mehmet Bozgeyik, Egitim Sen Secretary General, said: “Education was already facing serious problems in the region before the earthquake. Now there is serious damage in school buildings and many students have to live in tents. Since the 1999 earthquake in the Marmara region, 64% of the school buildings needed renovation. Overall, the earthquake has severely worsened the living conditions in the region.”
The number of houses and schools that were destroyed during the catastrophe has still to be ascertained, but is expected to be immense. Ten of thousands are without shelter and have been accommodated in makeshift tents and sheds.
Egitim Sen is engaged in emergency aid work since the first day after the earthquake. Their branch offices throughout Turkey are collecting urgent necessary materials such as clothes, blankets, tents, hygienic equipment, to be sent to the earthquake region. The Egitim Sen Executive Board visited the region for investigations and aid coordination. The Egitim Sen General Secretary and Lami Özgen, the Turkish Trade Union Centre’s (KESK) President have conveyed their demands for the region to the Ministry of Education. Their main requests are:
- Education workers who are suffering a psychological trauma as a result of the disaster must be given the right to request appointment to another city.
- The Van and Erci? provinces are already facing a teacher shortage, so that an urgent appointment of a large number of teachers is needed.
- Psychological support should be supplied by the cooperation of Ministry of Health, SHCEK (The Institution of Social Services and Children’s Protection) and the Ministry of Education.
- Education should not continue in damaged buildings and prefabricated modular housing and schools must be built as soon as possible.
- Teachers in the region must be supported by ameliorating their and their families’ social security conditions.
Egitim Sen is actively participating in the relief efforts of both education and daily life in the region. During this process international solidarity is very critical for the teachers and students. The urgent necessities in education and daily life are school materials, basic food for child nutrition (milk, infant food), equipment for schooling (toys, books, notebooks etc.), hygienic materials (soap, napkins).
Together with Education International, GEW, whose development-cooperation oriented Heinrich-Rodenstein-Foundation is coordinating an effort to raise donations, calls for solidarity with the victims.
Ulrich Thöne, GEW chairman and European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) Vice President, said: "Seeing the shocking images of destruction and suffering from the affected regions, there can be no hesitation about offering our fullest support for our sister organisation." Martin Rømer, ETUCE European Director, added: "European teachers stand in solidarity with the teachers in Turkey and all those hit so harshly by this disaster, supporting their efforts to shelter victims and rebuild their homesteads."
Donations for the victims can be sent to the following accounts:
Either: Heinrich-Rodenstein-Foundation IBAN: DE97 5001 0111 1707 2747 00 BIC/SWIFT: ESSEDE5FXXX SANTANDER Bank Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Egitim ve Bilim Emekcileri Sendikas? Bank: Ziraat Bankas? Branch: Kizilay Branch Code: 685 IBAN: TR870001000685390090665014 Account number: 39009066-5014 SWIFT: TCZBTR2A