Erdoğan’s ambitious coders project to face problems

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s plans to train one million software developers in three years will face fundamental issues, and is not clearly necessary in the first place, an article on Evrensel newspaper said on Saturday.

Erdoğan announced the imitative in his address to the nation on April 20, calling on the country’s youth to take up coding as they remain at home during lockdowns.

Turkey currently has some 20,000 students graduating from computer science related programs annually, the article said, while the sector employs 140,000 people and, according to Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak, has a need for semi-skilled workers.

Meanwhile, job creation in the sector has steadily remained below the number of new graduates, rising from 107,000 employees in 2014 to 111,000 in 2015, 120,000 in 2016, 128,000 in 2017, and 139,000 in 2018, according to Evrensel.

Erdoğan’s project will use Turkey’s Information Technologies Communication Board’s (BTK) Academic Portal system, as he announced in a speech, while the website had crashed due to the surge of visitors on the day it was announced, and has remained spotty since even though many have lost interest, the newspaper said.

“It is not necessary to study in school to become a software developer, of course,” the article said. “Anybody who has a decent background in mathematics and logic, can understand the source material that is overwhelmingly in English, and has an interest in the subject matter could take advantage of online classes to cover serious ground.”

The 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member states found that 37 percent of 15 year-olds in Turkey were “low achievers” in mathematics, while only seven percent were among top performers in at least one category.

The PISA study does not measure English comprehension, but it found that 26 percent of 15 year-olds were low achievers in reading in their native language.

As such, the project could in fact give out a significant number of certificates, assuming server issues are resolved, but “it’s doubtful whether having even several of these certificates in a sector where the workforce increases by 20,000 university graduates every year would correspond to anything significant,” the article said.