By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Turkey has taken control of 12 schools in Afghanistan run by an organization linked to U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for a failed coup in 2016.
The Afghan-Turk schools will now be run by Turkey’s state educational foundation Maarif, defying opposition by Afghan students and parents.
The move against Afghan Turk CAG Educational NGO (ATCE), the body that runs the schools, appears to be part of Turkey’s campaign against followers of Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of being behind a coup attempt in July 2016 aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
ATCE, which says it is an independent organization, has operated schools in several cities including the capital, Kabul, Mazar-e Sharif, Kandahar, and Herat since 1995.
Turkish Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz and his Afghan counterpart, Mohammad Ibrahim Shinwari, attended a handover ceremony in Kabul on February 26.
In return for control of the schools, Turkey has promised to double the number of Turkish schools in Afghanistan, bring in new, highly qualified teachers, cut student fees, and offer more scholarships to Afghan students, according to the Afghan Education Ministry.