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Mustafa Özarslan

Mustafa Özarslan Designs "Super Classes" to Improve Quality in Education

On 20 January 2011 Sabanci Foundation's "Turkey's Changemakers" program hosts Mustafa Özarslan, a district governor who aims to improve students' social and academic progress with the "Super Classes" project.

Mustafa Özarslan is the district governor of Sürmene in Trabzon. After working as a governor in various districts of the country, he was appointed to Trabzon's Sürmene district in 2008. Immediately after his appointment to the district, he found out that Sürmene was ranked 402^nd among 923 districts in primary school rankings. Upon realizing the poor physical conditions of public schools and the low success rate of students in the district, Özarslan became determined to develop a project for the schools and the students.

The idea behind the "Super Classes" project was to tackle quality in education. To improve children's psychological and academic progress, Özarslan began to transform all educational institutions in the district. The change in the classes started with chalk and blackboards. From the walls to the desks, the classrooms were transformed entirely and equipped with smart boards, projectors, and computers.

Besides improving the schools' physical conditions, the project focused on another aspect of education: promoting active citizenship. The desks were set up in a U-shape configuration to create a more collaborative learning setting. The "Superb Classes" have cut back on recess as students are encouraged to improve their time management skills without it. To build a generation of environmentally concerned citizens, recycling bins were installed in the classes. Projects such as the "Community Leaders of Tomorrow" have been developed not only to build self-confidence but also to promote social responsibility among students.

A recent study by Karadeniz Technical University highlights that the project had a positive impact on the 179 teachers and 3.400 students in the 12 schools in which it has been implemented. The project has also contributed to enrollment in further education. The study revealed that the students who graduated from Superb Classes were more likely to pursue further education.

The "Superb Classes" project also became a good model for community mobilization. The entire project was financed by the community without state assistance. "I believe that the hallways of our schools will become the streets and avenues, and these students, just as they are taking ownership of their school, will maintain the same approach in their districts and cities in the future," Özarslan says.

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