Course (LJC)
Ministry of Justice of Turkey

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Equal access to justice for all is the basic element for effective functioning of democracy and justice system in today’s societies. Equipping individuals with knowledge and means to utilize the justice system in the context of legal empowerment practices and particularly minimizing the barriers to access to Turkish justice system which serves the best interests of children are indeed extremely important in that the legal system should be more than a body of rights and laws on paper, make sure it fully serves its social function. Individuals with increased awareness through education will have higher competency to solve their problems through legal and peaceful means, and be at advantage in accessing justice. The existence of a society which experiences less disputes or solves its disputes through democratic grievance methods depends on the presence of strong social and cultural infrastructure and well-educated citizens. Moreover, considering that incomplete or perhaps inaccurate knowledge of law may be acquired from the family, environment and the media, it becomes particularly important that students as citizens acquire basic legal knowledge and skills for likely daily life problems. Since, in societies with high legal awareness, the probability of disputes arising is low and disputes are easier to resolve by peaceful methods, it is necessary that law and justice education should be given from early ages so that a culture of democracy, consensus, co-existence and respect for differences takes root in the society, and in short, democratic culture in Turkey further develops and the rule of law is strengthened. In Turkey, there is a huge workload at first instance and high court level due to the tendency of the citizens to solve their disputes at court level rather than approaching to alternative methods of dispute resolution. To this end, in order to create an educational environment where i) students may develop and discuss different perspectives for life; ii) peaceful resolution and remedies are promoted; iii) patterns of behavior necessary for active citizenship improved and iv) respect for rights exists, the Ministry of Justice launched an initiative on the development of a curriculum on legal issues in cooperation with Ministry of National Education. The nomination is therefore for the referred innovative initiative of MoJ (Law and Justice Course) under a legal empowerment programme that has been implemented jointly with UNDP Turkey since 2010.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The Law and Justice Curriculum was designed by “Legal Awareness Fostering Commission” composed of experts designated by the General Directorate of Basic Education of the Ministry of National Education and judicial professionals designated by the Ministry of Justice. The curriculum was included in 6-7th grade education programmes and aimed to foster awareness of law and justice among 12-14 aged students and prepare them for life as responsible citizens. The selective course started to be taught at schools as of September 2013. In the context of this course, students are expected to develop the following proficiencies in line with the curriculum developed and approved by the Ministry of National Education in June 2013. Grasp the laws that govern social life and the place of law among such rules Understand basic legal concepts Understand whether a case involves a legal problem Recognize that it is natural to pursue one’s rights Recognize that rights should be pursued by legal means Know from whom or where to get assistance to exercise legal rights Know legal means of pursuing rights Grasp that disputes may be resolved by peaceful means Know institutions and organizations mandated to resolve legal problems Know the function of judicial system Care for being fair

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The “Law and Justice Course” curriculum is premised upon an emphasis of concepts of law and justice that students may come across in daily life and cognitive and affective outcomes necessary for particularly peaceful methods in resolving associated problems. Innovatively, students are expected to make analyses on the basis of cases in their lives, internalize the new concepts learned in this course based on their experience and observations relating to law and justice and acquire basic skills. In the process of achieving the outcomes in the course, lessons are taught by utilizing such activities as visits organized to institutions in the justice system, mock courts being established in classrooms and doing case studies, and primary resources be utilized by inviting to class the legal practitioners in the justice system. The bold initiative of the MoJ to introduce such innovative curriculum, which distinguishes itself from conventional courses taught at the junior high school level, is worth acknowledgement as an important step for facilitating access to justice.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
In the process of achieving the outcomes in the course, the following issues are being considered for the successful implementation of the Course: 1.Implementation of the course aim not only to convey knowledge, but also contribute to skills of students who are curious, questioning, inquiring, thinking critically and creatively, discussing, and problem solving persons to serve their future expectations. In general terms, the course is expected to foster awareness of law and justice at early ages. 2.Care is taken in the teaching process of this course to associate the topics with daily life and deal with daily life examples in solving problems, pursuing rights and pursuing legal processes. 3.Students are reminded that a sanction may be imposed when rules of law are not complied with, and such a sanction may affect the ordinary course of life and future. 4.During the implementation of the course, methods and activities are employed such as dramatization, case study, visits to institutions in the justice system, conversations with justice employees, inviting guest speakers. 5.Where activities are to be organized in the form of courthouse visits on the functioning of the judicial system and roles of employees in such system, courthouse visits may be organized if the court officials provide a visit environment which will not cause pedagogical problems for the students. 6.For the implementation of the course, activities are organized to develop the skills of students for conflict resolution, interpretation, establishing causality, establishing empathy, agreeing to reasonable solutions and decision making in order to develop students’ skills and attitudes.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
“Legal Awareness Fostering Commission”, which was composed of experts designated by the General Directorate of Basic Education of the Ministry of National Education and judicial professionals designated by the Ministry of Justice, was established in early 2013. A wide range of stakeholders including the judicial practitioners, justice institutions (high courts, Union of Bar Association, Union of Notaries, Justice Academy, etc), law faculties as well as civil society organisations were consulted through working meetings and semi-structured feedback forms. In total, 69 faculties of law, 72 faculties of education, 120 teachers and 760 students contributed to the design of the curriculum as they shared their expectation from such a course through written feedbacks.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The initiative started as a joint effort of UNDP and Ministry of Justice in the scope of the “Project for Preventive Justice Programs for Legally Empowered Citizens and Increased Access To Justice for All in Turkey”. The project was implemented with the resources of UNDP (USD 100,000) and of Government of Turkey (USD 375,000). In addition, Ministry of National Education supported the Project by providing required human resource for the development of the curriculum as well as publishing the text book developed under the Project. Other than the Project budget, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of National Education also contributed through their core funds for the organisation of the regional workshops, printing and dissemination of course text book.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The curriculum and textbook of the Law and Justice Course were developed in one year and the publicity activities were limited only to the development of promotional materials such as posters. Despite this, 333,000 students at only 6th Grades selected the course in 2013-2014 fall semester around Turkey. Due to the prioritization of other selective courses and impossibility to open the course under a certain number of students, the number of students who are actively taking the course is now 22,000. In 2014, this number will automatically be doubled with the students select the course also at 7th grades. In addition, with the acceleration and expansion of publicity and visibility activities such as the broadcast of Law and Justice Website and production of TV Spot, this number is expected to reach over 100,000 around Turkey in 2014.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
1.The course is included among the selective courses in the “Primary Education Institutions (Elementary and Middle Schools) Weekly Course Schedule” in the annex to the Resolution No. 69 of 25 June 2012 of the Board of Education and Training. Accordingly, the course is being taught two hours a week, 72 hours in a year. Students’ achievement of the course outcomes is closely continuously monitored. To this end, the basis is a assessment process that integrates the learning-teaching process, and a diversity of assessment instruments as well as self-appraisal and individual differences are being considered. Students in the course are being actively involved in the assessment system as well as the teaching activities. Assessment is not based only on the end semester products. For example, when activities are conducted which depict the relation of social rules with rules of law, the learning outcomes are reviewed and reinforced by various methods.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The low level of legal awareness among the public at large and particularly parents of the students is a challenge for the implementation of the course. To overcome this, an awareness raising campaign has been launched by Ministry of Justice. Initially, 50,000 posters were copied and disseminated widely at courthouses, bar associations and other relevant institutions of justice. In addition, a TV-Spot production and website development processes have been started and expected to be completed in early 2014. This would raise the ownership of the parents and teachers and increase the number of students benefitting from the course. In parallel to the awareness raising programs targeting the public, a series of regional meetings are also planned to be held in early 2014 with the participation of the teachers as well as the judicial actors in order to increase the awareness about the content and implementation of the course.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The key benefit of the Law and Justice Course is that it addresses the root causes of the challenges of the justice system in Turkey: increase of the disputes and thereby high backlog. It therefore touches upon the need for solving the real causes of disputes and fostering at early ages the sense of justice and peaceful dispute resolution. While it is essential to build basic knowledge and skills in education, the course does not overlook that personality should be built with cultural and human values as needed by a human being in the society.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
60. and 61. Government Program as well as the 10th Development Plan of Turkey foresees the programs on legal empowerment, which aims to raise the legal awareness starting from early ages. In addition, Judicial Reform Strategy (2010-2014), which is national framework document on the measures to be taken by the Government of Turkey addresses the need for innovative measures of access to justice including the introduction of a course of basic legal knowledge as part of primary education. Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Justice also pointed out the commitment to raise the legal awareness at early ages in Turkey to prevent disputes. To this end, in order to ensure the sustainability of the initiative, Ministry of Justice also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ministry of National Education including the framework of the curriculum and roles and responsibilities of the concerned parties. Relying on the ownership and commitment of the MoJ and MoNE to achieve the outcomes of the course, it is expected that the referred Course will be evolved to a compulsory course at both primary and high school level.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The results of the consultations held with a range of stakeholders including the students, teachers, laws and education faculties as well as the judicial actors indicated that there is a low level of awareness for seeking rights and justice among the public at large. The students even the teachers are not knowledgeable about basic legal rights and processes. The law and Justice Course is expected to fill this gap in medium run and in order to complement these efforts it is highly recommended that the referred curriculum is included in the education programs at university level specifically faculties of social sciences where the teachers of social studies are being trained. In addition, in long run it is also expected that the course will be mandatory and taught at high school level around Turkey.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Justice of Turkey
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Hamdullah Paksoy
Title:   Judge  
Telephone/ Fax:   00903122187240
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Adalet Bakanligi Ek Bina, Mustafa Kemal Mahallesi, 2151. Cad. Sogutozu
Postal Code:   06520
City:   Ankara

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