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Kurdish language programme starts in Turkey

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Kurdish language programme starts in Turkey

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Aug 08, 2020 10:04 am

Turkey allows Kurdish new lessons

New programme teaching Kurdish language, culture launching in Turkey this month


A new company in Turkey hopes to get Kurdish and Turkish kids learning the Kurdish language through interactive games, books, toys, and cartoons.

Erkam Soft will launch its ambitious programme in Diyarbakir on August 23 with plans to expand to Istanbul and Erbil, according to Behmen Dogu, the company’s general manager.

The Kurdish language has been silenced in modern Turkey since its foundation in 1923, due to the oppressive assimilation policies of successive governments and Kurdish parties. A 2019 study shows that only a small size of Turkey’s Kurdish population can speak their mother tongue.

“The number of people who can speak and write their language is small. Kurdish children have stayed away from their language in Turkey because the education there is in Turkish. Although this is the main reason, parents (including me) are also to blame for their indifference in this regard. Our children do not speak Kurdish, or only speak some,” explained Dogu when asked about his inspiration for the project.

Erkam Soft, founded in early 2019 and certified by Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry in June, employs 30 Kurds, Turks, and Arabs. They will produce materials in the Kurdish dialect Kurmanji, Turkish, and English in order to teach not only Kurdish language, but also culture.

The central character to the programme is ‘Bêjan,’ an eight-year-old girl from Batman province who travels through time visiting historically important places and events in Kurdish areas of Turkey, Iraq, and Iran.

Each character has a Kurdish name and a strong element of Kurdish culture runs throughout the series, Dogu explained. “You can hear Kurdish songs and folk songs as well as Kurdish stories. Additionally, you can see [Kurdish] historical sites,” he said.

The ‘Bêjan’ cartoon “will act like a bridge between our children on one side and between them and foreign children on the other. A Brazilian or English child will enjoy watching it,” said Dogu. Erkam Soft hopes to make a deal with Netflix to bring their programme to a global audience.

‘Bêjan’ will also feature in an online game, which will be available on AppStore and Google Play in Kurmanji, Turkish and English.

“The children will both enjoy it and learn things which fit their age … This will help children to learn Kurdish language,” Dogu said. This will be the first Kurdish smartphones game of its kind.

A series of books aimed at preschool-aged children will also be published in early August and toys will be added to the lineup at a later date.

Kurdish is banned in formal settings in Turkey and there have been several initiatives to keep the language alive. One is the Kurdish children satellite television channel, Zarok TV, based in Diyarbakir. It airs instructional and entertainment programmes.

Scores of Kurdish language institutions were established after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power nearly two decades ago, especially during a short-lived peace process between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2013. However, most of the institutions have been closed since the collapse of the process in mid-2015. Authorities have removed Kurdish-language signs and shut down a library in what many fear are renewed repression of Kurds.

Dogu said they are working with government permission and have not had any problems yet, “but this is Turkey which allows something but may close it after two months.”

If Ankara does shut them down, their online projects will continue.

"We do not expect such a thing to happen because it is related to children but it may happen,” he said. "So far, no obstacles have been made and inshallah there will be none." ... y/07082020
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Kurdish language programme starts in Turkey



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