Turkish Education Reformer Honored as 2012 Koldyke Fellow

November 5, 2012
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has awarded the 2012 Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship to Batuhan Aydagül for his efforts to reform education policies and advocate for students’ rights in Turkey. Aydagül is the coordinator and a board member of the Education Reform Initiative (ERI), and a member of the advisory board at the Mother Child Education Foundation in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Aydagül is visiting Chicago from November 5 to 9, and will meet with civic, media, business, and academic leaders to exchange ideas about education policy and teacher training. He will deliver The Chicago Council’s Sixth Annual Patricia Blunt Koldyke Lecture on November 7.

Aydagül is a fourth generation education professional. After studying business and working as a trader, he quickly discovered that education was “in his blood” and pursued a master’s degree in international education administration and policy analysis from Stanford University. While at Stanford, Aydagül analyzed the 1997 Compulsory Education Law in Turkey, tracing how the tensions between seculars and Islamists and the role of the global “Education for All” movement interact to shape education policy. 

Aydagül works as the lead policy analyst and shapes education programs at ERI. Launched in 2003 within Sabancı University, ERI aims to ensure all children have access to quality education and that education policy processes are participatory, innovative, rational, and transparent. Currently supported by nineteen Turkish institutions, ERI tackles three challenges of significant importance to Turkish education: increasing quality in education, reducing disparities among schools, and fulfilling students’ rights in education. 

Today, Aydagül is widely recognized as a pioneer and public voice for education policy in Turkey. He has played a key role in the emergence and development of Turkey’s Annual Best Practices Conferences, which have reached more than 15,000 teachers in nine annual conferences and 31 provincial workshops around Turkey. Between 2007 and 2008, Aydagül was seconded to the Ministry of Education in Liberia to support education reform there, becoming one of the first Turks to undertake such a responsibility in development. 

As the 2012 Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellow, Aydagül seeks to gain perspectives on Chicago’s best practices that will enable him to effect meaningful and sustained change in Turkish society. He also is looking forward to opportunities to discuss Turkish education and society with Chicagoans. 

The Patricia Blunt Koldyke Fellowship is funded by the Koldyke family to recognize a social entrepreneur between the ages of 30 and 45 who is working to transform his or her society through innovative solutions to pressing educational problems and inadequacies. For 2012, the selection committee focused on social entrepreneurship in primary and secondary education in Turkey. Aydagül was selected from an extremely competitive applicant pool.