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Outrage in north over tent schools

north, tents, school, tent schools, Tatar
Schoolchildren are expected to attend classes in makeshift tents

Students in the north will be attending class in tents, as some school buildings were deemed unsafe, which drew the ire of both political opposition parties and unions on Friday, while Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar insisted an Islamic ‘presidential complex’ was needed because there is no parking at the current one.

On Thursday, images surfaced of the army in the north setting up tents outside Namik Kemal high school in Famagusta, as the parents had withdrawn their children from classes after the school was deemed unsafe and not resistant to earthquakes.

Other schools as well were deemed similarly dangerous including, Karakol primary school, Dr Fazil Kucuk technical school, and Cumhuriyet high school. Tents were also being set up for those students.

On Friday, this sparked a variety of criticism aimed at the ‘government’, which is persisting with the building of an Islamic complex, Kulliye, in the north to house the new ‘presidential’ palace, a mosque, and the ‘parliament building’.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar had told students at the Famagusta secondary school, where a 35-member group of students and teachers in earthquakes in Turkey, that the complex was necessary as the current ‘presidential palace’ didn’t have any conference rooms and was not earthquake safe.

Weighing in first on Friday was main opposition CTP leader Tufan Erhurman, who said: “The country’s first need, especially following the earthquakes, is not to build a complex with a mosque [Kulliye].”

He called on the ‘government’ to think about what they are doing.

Meanwhile, CTP ‘MP’ Dogus Derya said that with the money used for the Kulliye, the ‘government’ could construct 225 new schools.

Northern Nicosia mayor, Mehmet Harmanci also commented on the misuse of the funds and the images of tents being set up outside for classes at Namik Kemal high school.

“It is unthinkable to let the children attend classes in tents. Is there no building left, really no building, where a temporary arrangement can be made,” Harmanci questioned on social media.

He called on the ‘government’ to quit, since their solution was to educate children in tents, in a city that has so many nice buildings.

Responding to the images that surfaced and the fact that Tatar snapped at students at the Famagusta school earlier in the week for questioning the construction among other social issues, the secondary school teachers’ union KTOEOS chairman, Ozan Elmali release a set of questions towards the ‘president’.

He questioned if any ‘government’ official was annoyed that the Kulliye construction continued, while many other public buildings and schools were deemed dangerous.

“Mr Tatar, do you feel sorry for the fact that the construction of the Kulliye, which is not accepted by the society, continues when one of our schools has come to the point of continuing education in a tent and many schools are on the verge of demolition? Is your conscience at ease? Is the Kulliye the biggest problem and need of the society right now? Why don’t you stop the construction of the Kulliye despite all the reactions and criticism,” he said.

He also asked if Tatar would visit Namik Kemal students in the tents they will be studying on his tour of schools in the north.

Hitting back at the entire situation and at the students at the Famagusta school, Tatar said that the children involved politics in their questions.

He insisted, speaking at a programme of Kibris Postasi, that the Kulliye is needed because the current ‘presidential palace’ does not even have a parking area.

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