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TEGV, TÜRKİYE EĞİTİM GÖNÜLLÜLERİ VAKFI (TURKISH FOUNDATION OF EDUCATION VOLUNTEERS), non-governmental organization (NGO) founded to support basic state education through the provision of extra-curricular education opportunities. It was formed on January 23, 1995 by 55 business persons, managers and academicians led by Suna Kıraç. One of several NGOs regularly supported by the Vehbi Koç Foundation, TEGV won Cabinet approval in 2009 to “collect donations without need for further permits”. Today TEGV’s donors exceed 200,000.

TEGV’s educational activities comprise child-centric education methods and programs appropriate to the developmental stages of children between 7 and 16 and designed to help them develop life skills. These activities intend to provide versatile education support in active learning environments to enable children of diverse skills to discover their own personalities and talents.

The original education programs created by TEGV are largely implemented by volunteers in various cities through its Education Parks, Learning Units and Mobile Firefly Learning Units. Over 2,7 million children have benefited since its foundation due to the work of over 82,000 TEGV volunteers.

Education Volunteers today operate a total of ten Education Parks: two in Istanbul, and one each in Ankara, Antalya, Eskişehir, Gaziantep, Izmir, Samsun, Şanlıurfa and Van. Built on expansive grounds allocated by local government, these parks possess all spatial and technological facilities essential for supporting multipurpose educational needs. Each Education Park has a yearly capacity of approximately 3,500 children on grounds of between ten and twenty thousand square meters, with fields for various sports including football and basketball. On average, the parks have 1,200 square meters of indoor space for computer rooms, libraries and studios.  
Smaller Learning Units allocated to the TEGV in towns and provinces with limited educational facilities today number 38, each of which has a yearly capacity of 700 children in indoor spaces varying between 250 and 300 square meters.

Twenty-four mobile learning units called Fireflies reach out to children in areas lacking Education Parks or Learning Units. Originally launched under the auspices of the Hope 2000 Project in the wake of the 1999 Marmara Earthquake to provide continuity in education to children in earthquake regions, the mobile learning units later developed into the Firefly Project covering every province. The Firefly units, which are housed in truck beds, each have a yearly capacity of 2,400 children and contain activity spaces, IT rooms and a living space.
To inform volunteers about its training activities, TEGV publishes Düşler Atölyesi (The Dreams Workshop), Oyunlarla Spor (Sport with Games) and Okuyorum Oynuyorum (I Read I Play), and for children it publishes, Eğlen Öğren Hijyen (Have Fun,Learn, Hygiene) and Kariyer Yolculuğuma Başlıyorum Ansiklopedisi (Starting on My Career Journey Encyclopedia). It also produces a quarterly magazine, eg, Eğitim Gönüllüleri (ev, Education Volunteers). Supported by the Yapı Kredi Bank as part of the “I Read I Play” project, the TEGV website has also published several editions of Renkli Kalemler (Colorful Pens), which is a journal written by children coached by experienced writers and journalists in the following Education Parks: Istanbul (May 2014), Samsun (May 2014), Van (May 2014), Ankara (January 2015), Gaziantep (January 2015), Izmir (January 2015), Antalya (May 2015), Istanbul (May 2015), Eskişehir (June 2015) and Şanlıurfa (June 2015).

TEGV Education Parks
Ankara Semahat-Dr. Nusret Arsel Education Park
Antalya Suna-İnan Kıraç Education Park
Eskişehir Atatürk Education Park Ali Numan Kıraç Activity Center
Gaziantep Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality Education Park
Istanbul Sema and Aydın Doğan Education Park
Istanbul Ferit Aysan Education Park
Izmir Çiğli Education Park
Samsun Samsun Metropolitan Municipality Education Park
Şanlıurfa Sevgi-Erdoğan Gönül Education Park
Van Feyyaz Tokar Education Park

Our country faces an economic and political bottleneck. It has built up over the years, and stems from the fact that not all members of the community have done their part.

Countries and people do not find themselves in such dire straits for no reason. It is mistakes and irresponsible acts that create this situation.

The real problem underlying all the problems our country faces is LACK OF EDUCATION.

The education level of our country lags behind the needs of the age.

What is needed to ensure the unity of the nation, social peace and economic development is an education system suitable to raising young people for the age of science, who are enlightened, confident, tolerant, self-renewing, inquisitive, analytical, problem-solving, equipped with common sense, subscribing to national and universal values and passionate about Turkish culture and civilization.

The Turkish Foundation of Education Volunteers was founded to contribute to raising such a generation and to offer them the opportunity of a better education.

* From the letter Suna Kıraç had sent to leading business people in 1995 to recruit financial and moral support for the TEGV.

Suna Kıraç, Ömrümden Uzun İdeallerim Var (My Ideals, Longer than my Lifetime), Suna ve İnan Kıraç Vakfı Yayınları, Istanbul, 2006, p. 212

Because I am determined to live and fight in this country.

I wish to be criticized, not be a critic.

I decided to do, not talk.

I was first immersed in the education issues of our country seven years ago with our Koç High School, and four years later with Koç University.

Launching into an area I thought I knew well made me realize I knew nothing.

Why did I become an education volunteer? Because Robert College had taught me mindfulness, and consistency in expressing my ideas, and to reveal my position. It had taught me to choose the path that required courage. To never fear the allegations of “wild, mad, big-headed or ambitious”, to avoid mediocrity or becoming a “yes man”.

Today is the anniversary of the March 27 local elections. The results were predicted for some sections of society, and a surprise for others; one thing they did was to mobilize non-governmental organizations, albeit briefly. Faxes were sent and meetings arranged. Thankfully a good deal of these activities focused on education. We must continue to gather these efforts so that they are determined and effective; we must never lose our enthusiasm. We must look back and assess what we could have achieved in the past year, what we actually did achieve, and where we failed.

Economic difficulties can be overcome, just as political crises can be resolved.

What can’t be done is to repair a society whose children have been dispossessed.

Today, 33% of our population is at elementary and secondary school age. The leaders of the future will rise from this group. (State Institute of Statistics, 1990 figures)

Today this group is at the stage when value sets and behavioral patterns are formed. They will have the correct impact on the future of the country so long as they receive high quality education in the correct direction. Should they fail to receive correct direction, our country will face far greater challenges than it does today.

Suna Kıraç, Ömrümden Uzun İdeallerim Var, pp. 213-14
Abadan Unat, Nermin

Political scientist who received the Vehbi Koç Award for education in 2012.