The 4th Kemal Yücel Research Honorary Award, presented by the Cyprus Education Research Association (KEAB) in memory of Cypriot educator Kemal Yücel was presented to Expert Çağrı Peköz and Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Faculty of Education Faculty Member Prof. Dr. Ayşe Işık Gürşimşek for their work titled “Multicultural Education Approaches and Examining Cultural Intelligence by Pre-School Teachers”.
During her statement, EMU Faculty of Education, Department of Elementary Education Faculty Member Prof. Dr. Ayşe Işık Gürşimşek said that nowadays, migration patterns have increased due to various reasons, causing significant changes in social structures; and that Cyprus is no exception. She mentioned that the cultural alterations in Cyprus are hastened due to the ethnic diversity on the island, and also the increased migration. This situation is reflected upon education however, the institutions remain unprepared for this multicultural diversity.
Prof. Dr. Gürşimşek stated that elementary stages of education are critical for the formation of prejudice and racism in children and emphasised on the existence of several studies concerning the negative effects of single-culture-oriented education offered to children from different cultures. Furthermore, Prof. Dr. Ayşe Işık Gürşimşek expressed that an abundance of literature studies can help the instructors receive sufficient information and maintain a positive approach towards multicultural education and prevent the ideology of discrimination from settling in. With this ideology as its starting point, the study was deemed worthy of the award. It aims to detect the perceptions of elementary school teachers of multicultural education, active in official elementary education institutions from all around TRNC, their cultural intelligence level and relative variables.
203 elementary and branch teachers active in TRNC Ministry of Education official classes participated in the research that focuses on Cultural Intelligence Scale, Multicultural Perception Scale for Teachers and other socio-demographic data. The research results indicate the following: 59.6% of the teachers have students with different cultural backgrounds who cannot speak Turkish, 37% of these students have different ethnic backgrounds and only 4.4% of the teachers see this as a positive thing while 56.2% have negative feelings towards their experience. Prof. Dr. Ayşe Işık Gürşimşek emphasised on the importance of urgent supportive precautions.
The research indicated that the teachers’ attitude towards multicultural education is directly associated with their cultural intelligence. While teaching in an environment embracing multiple cultures had no effects on teaching attitudes, it was stated that knowing a second language and having friends from different cultures had positive effects on this subject.
Prof. Dr. Gürşimşek underlined the fact that this is a pacesetting study in North Cyprus and that their findings would shed a light for embracing multicultural education in Cyprus’s educational institutions, related future studies and in service trainings for teachers.