The Perception of Imam Hatip Schools and Their Students in Turkey: A Sociological Evaluation on Some Basic Indicators
Author/s: Mehmet Ali Aydemir
Year: 2017 Vol: 1 Number: 1
The religion-oriented historical experience in Turkey has produced the phenomenon of Imam Hatip Schools, which have been shaped through their own unique characteristics that extend up to today. Imam Hatip Schools and their students’ characteristics evolving through this historical experience have been able to transform into an element of identity and an original model of citizenship. The issue evident in various titles, such as Imam Hatip School students’ level of religiosity, way of life, opinions on life, and political attitudes, has been internalized to the social structure of Turkey as much as it can rest upon an inherent factual reality. Being an Imam Hatip student, which can produce an original stance at a level able to exclude a social typology, can also generate a counterpart beyond just being a characteristic concerning the students from various angles in the eyes of other people who are not Imam Hatip students. In this sense, apart from being an educational institution, Imam Hatip Schools are also separate from other educational institutions through the counterpart it finds in society, because the values and qualities attributed to these schools in Turkey has been the source of a positive image of a common description that people from almost every group agree with. These characteristics also bring with them the perception of being an Imam Hatip student as an occasion of privilege. This reality, which has been determined through the research entitled “The Perception of Imam Hatip Schools and Imam Hatip Students in Turkey” and conducted with the support of Turkey’s Imam- Hatipliler Foundation, is important in terms of reflecting the general perception of society. This article, which the related research forms the backbone of, aims to answer some claims recently mentioned in public and to pronounce some judgments by supporting these answers with concrete data. As such, the aim is to reveal the perception of Imam Hatip School and their students with the support of data obtained from sociological research. In addition, this study seeks to open a discussion about which values this perception covering Imam Hatip High Schools and their students is nurtured by, as well as by which cultural and ideological backgrounds. In the elongated discussion, however, the opportunity is sought to compare views from large public groups on this subject through the claims of some who hold views that feed the public over information and discourses that are not facts and those who reason with their own experience and perception against these claims. In this context, some indications will be analyzed with the purpose of drawing a specific framework.