A Turkish foundation has taken over all schools in the Ethiopian capital previously run by the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 failed coup in Turkey, the foundation announced on Friday.
“11 FETO schools in the capital, Addis Ababa, attended by 2,000 students, were transferred to the Turkish Maarif Foundation as of yesterday by a court decision,” said the foundation in a written statement, adding that this fulfilled a pledge made by Ethiopia’s president on a 2019 visit to Turkey.
Mentioning that Ethiopia strongly backed Turkey at the time of the defeated coup, the foundation said Ethiopia is the country attracting the most Turkish investment in East Africa, with a total trade volume of at least $2.5 million.
Although Ethiopia approached the transfer of those schools to Turkey positively, the process was delayed when the schools changed names, the statement said.
FETO “tried to turn the issue into a diplomatic crisis by transferring schools to German citizens … and tried to put political pressure on the government,” said the statement, but court rulings and the pro-Turkish stance of the students' parents defeated this tactic.
“The parent-teacher association (PTA) personally played an important role in ensuring the transfer, taking a clear position in court processes against the current school administration and in favor of Turkey,” the statement noted.
With the transfer of 11 schools in four different campuses in the country – added to another school taken over two years ago – Maarif has put an end to the presence of all FETO-owned schools in the country, it said.
In the transfer of administration, the success of schools in the country previously transferred and operated by the foundation played a significant role, the statement underlined. The schools are set to reopen next month.
“Along with Ethiopia, the Maarif Foundation currently has educational activities in 25 African countries,” it added.
FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.
After the coup bid, Turkey established the Maarif Foundation to assume the administration of overseas schools linked to FETO, which the terrorist group has used as a revenue stream. Maarif also establishes schools and education centers abroad.
The Maarif Foundation is a Turkish government agency established to replace FETO-linked schools abroad in the wake of the 2016 defeated coup attempt.
It has since opened representative offices in 52 countries and operates in 67 countries as a result of official contacts with 104 countries in consultation with the relevant ministries and other state institutions.
It has also exposed FETO's education network and locked out the group’s control of schools one by one through transfers, closures, nationalizations, or sales to third countries.
Prior to July 15, 2016, FETO had 63 educational institutions in Africa, 222 in Asia, 150 in Europe, 315 in South and North America, and ten in Oceania.
The Maarif Foundation has since taken over 216 schools in 19 countries, including Afghanistan, Chad, and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.
Maarif has also opened 129 new schools in 26 countries, including the US, Afghanistan, and Albania.
It has also signed 79 protocols in 45 countries for the transfer of FETO schools and the opening of new schools, while some countries have voluntarily closed them instead of handing them over.