Turkish students with special needs face many obstacles when attempting to enrol into universities, such as a lack of suitable entrance tests and placement quotas for disabled students – and, crucially, diplomas from special learning centres are considered invalid for enrolment.
But in October 2019, a campaign with nearly 92,000 supporters confronted the Turkish education ministry and parliament demanding new regulations for students with mental disabilities who wish to enrol in universities.
The People Behind The Picture
Robert Cem Osborn, a 25-year old high school graduate, photographer, and speaker, called for support regarding the campaign on petition website Change.org. He believes every student should have an equal opportunity at enrolment, and that university life is an accomplishing experience to be treasured.
Gün Bilgin, Robert’s mother and head of the Down’s Syndrome association Down Türkiye, has been extremely supportive of the campaign. In an interview, she stated that while the Turkish constitution protects the right of education, but the laws in place “do not provide the necessary opportunities for individuals with mental disability.”