Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan Image Credit: REUTERS

Ankara: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan presented Friday a new education programme promoting the family and moral order, despite protests from teaching unions accusing him of Islamising education.

"The ultimate aim of these efforts is to bring up our children as people who respect morality, are courageous, willing, productive, compassionate, patriotic, blessed with critical sense, competent and virtuous and demonstrating spiritual integrity, with heart and body," Erdogan said.

He also hit out at the "global scourge" of gender ideology and said there would be new lessons on "politeness, manners and the family within the structure of Turkish society".

Erdogan said there would be optional classes "on the holy Quran, the prophet's life" and other Islamic subjects.

Teaching unions called for a protest on Tuesday against the programme, which they said was "contrary to secularism, science and democratic teaching".

"We call on everyone to fight together for the rights and future of children," Simge Yardim, board member of the Egitim-Sen union, wrote on X.

The unions accuse the government of reducing teaching on mathematics and science and replacing it with classes on Islam.

They complain that supposedly optional religious classes often become obligatory by default due to a lack of other options.