Teacher and Administrator Perceptions of Religion and Ethics Education Practices in the Primary Schools of TRNC

Mehmet Arslan, Benan Ağdelen

Abstract


Education of religion and ethics has been a long-standing element of the school curriculum in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, delivered as a compulsory subject to primary grades 4 and 5 as well as in secondary schools. Numerous issues concerning this practice have been raised by both the national media and the teacher’s unions. In the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, research studies conducted on religious education are scarce. The existing studies have largely focused on various teaching methodologies for religious education, desired teacher qualities and qualifications and so on. A review of the relevant literature suggested that no research study has so far been conducted specifically on the teachers’ and administrators’ perceptions of how to deliver the religious education lessons in schools. Taking account of teacher and administrator perceptions, this study aims to investigate the processes of teaching the religion and ethics lessons effectively in the primary schools of TRNC. To that end, a questionnaire was developed following deliberations and evaluations with specialists in the field. The questionnaire was composed of two sections. While the first section collected demographic information about the participant teachers and administrators, the latter posed four open-ended questions about the religion and ethics lesson. The questionnaire was distributed to the teachers and administrators involved with the teaching of the concerned lessons at the primary level in the city of Güzelyurt, TRNC. Ten teachers and ten administrators returned the filled questionnaire. Five of the teacher participants taught grade 4 and the other five taught grade 5. While five of the administrators were employed at the time of the study, the other five had been retired. The questionnaire data revealed that the religion and ethics lessons were not implemented efficiently in the primary schools of TRNC and that the lessons were offered by the schools even though the teachers assigned to deliver them were nonspecialists. However, it was also found that, owing to the exam anxiety surrounding college entrance, demanding curricular content and nonspecialist teacher profiles, overall little or no classroom practice existed regarding the education of religion and ethics.

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