PIONEER OF THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: ATATURK
Conference dates: Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20, 2013
Organized by: The Light Millennium and College of Arts and Letters at the
Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey
THE BIRTH OF THE CELEBRATION OF YOUTH AND SPORTS FESTIVAL AND
THE U.N.’S AGENDA FOR YOUTH AND THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF SPORTS
This Paper Presented by
Asst.Prof.Dr. Sebahattin DEVECIOGLU
Fırat University, Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, Elazığ, Turkey
April 20, 2013
The purpose of this study is to emphasize the meaning and importance of the May 19th Youth and Sports Day presented by Ataturk to the youth in order to determine its sports practices from past to presentand to assess the day within the framework of Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.
Millennium Development Goals for 2015, stipulated by United Nations in 2000, state that there is much to be done regarding the objective of removing millions of people out of poverty, saving lives and helping children to continue their education, empowering women and girls, enhancing sustainable development, and protecting those who are the most vulnerable against destructive effects of conflicts and numerous crises. With an aim to develop countries and societies and to secure their future, the Millennium Development Goals also comprise a comprehensive action plan that is embraced by national governments and has the first official constructive force at the UN-level.
It is a known fact that development and progress ignore those who are at the lowest economic class or disadvantaged based on gender, age, disability or ethnicity. It is observed that differences and gaps between rural and urban areas have are reached alarming demensions. In order to achieve the Goals, it is stated that an egalitarian and comprehensive economic growth enabling economic opportunities which are accessible for everyone and from which everyone, especially poor and excluded ones, can benefit, should be provided.
If we look into the Millennium Development Goals (2015) in terms of life quality and values in our times, they have not been moved beyond the “social protection” level yet.
Similar to the Goals and policies revealed by United Nations, the revolutions of Ataturk, the founder of Republic of Turkey, raised a modern civilization in terms of social, economic and cultural aspects, which was born out of a collapsed empire that had been erased from history. Among the most important reforms and revolutions of Ataturk that are accepted all over the world, the importance he bestowed upon the youth bears remarkable features.
Recommendations/opinions regarding developing and improving Youth and Sports Activities in Turkey on the basis of the main failures and deficiencies in implementations parallel to their pioneership at the `regional and international level` will be presented in an analytical perspective after evaluating the conditions pertaining to pre-Ataturk, latter period of Ottoman Empire (1900-1922), Ataturk’s period in the first 15 years of the Turkish Republic (1923-1938), and post-Ataturk period.
In this context, it will be discussed with various examples and sources that goals and policies of Ataturk related to youth and sports, his activities, organizations and studies, were among the influencing factors for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. This is especially true considering “the least developed and developing countries” were accepted and taken to the national development program by 195 countries (193 countries and two observers; Palestine and Vatican.)
In addition, this study will emphasize the meaning and importance of the May 19 Youth and Sports Day and entrusting the republic to youth by Ataturk within the development period of the Turkish Republic and highlight the contribution and leadership of Ataturk to youth and society as a significant need and an exemplary model across the world.
As a result of assessing the data obtained in this study, together with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (2015), it will be recommended that Youth and Sports be included as an additional goal in Post 2015 United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
HISTORY OF THE BIRTH OF YOUTH AND SPORTS DAY
History of nations involve important events and dates, which change their destiny, enlighten their future, appreciate the society as a whole and open them up to radical change and development, as well as a new structure and formation. If these dates and events become the starting point of a great revolution and a bright future, they gradually become important and permanent holidays.
Holidays that are commonly celebrated by communities are definitely placed on the top of national customs and traditions (1). May 19, 1919, which is the first step of the great revolution within the War of Independence, was accepted as the Youth and Sports Day on May 19, 1938. Being among the important national holidays of the Turkish nation, May 19 the Commemoration of Ataturk Youth and Sports Day, has been established deeply in the Turkish culture and widely esteemed by the society in a commonly official and unofficial way. History of nations involve blurry, rough and dark periods, where it seems impossible to find an illuminated path. As Ataturk stated, the majority of people got into a vicious circle on such days, and while some of them sought salvation in uniting with the enemy, some thought being under the protectiveness and guidance of a stronger foreign state would be a better choice and some tried to keep establishing weak local resistance organizations. May 19, 1919 is an illuminating date in a dark period (2, 3), which is based on dying in an honorable way rather than living dishonorably under contempt and the starting point of a chain of events that occurred afterwards.
Since the beginning of the National Struggle, founder of the Republic of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk anticipated that the only solution against those who intended to cause the nation to go back to their old-fashioned opinions, was in young minds. He saw that generations who would be raised with a modern mentality and would develop his work even further and keep it alive for eternity by protecting it from all kinds of dangers in the future. Thus, Ataturk commended the republic which he called “my greatest work” to the youth and presented the date May 19, the day he arrived at Samsun to start the War of Independence, as the Youth and Sports Day. (4)
Ataturk’s definition of youth generally gains an intellectual meaning by exceeding the age limits; in other words, it goes hand in hand with the innovation of opinions. Ataturk’s statement, “Being young minded means having a real mind to see and understand the truth” was used in this context. The Great Leader Ataturk, who proclaimed the Republic when he was 42, performed the hat and clothing reform when he was 44 and replaced the Arabic letters with the Turkish letters when he was 48. He was a young man in all periods of his life by courtesy of his innovation of thought and freshness of energy in his soul. In his opinion, the extent of being young was not only the age but also related with the belief in and devotion to principles and reforms achieved. Thus, he stated: “As for me, the youth consists of individuals who adopt the opinions and ideology of this revolution and would transfer them to the next generations. In my view , a bigot twenty year old is old butan idealist who is seventy years old is young and energetic.” In this respect, it is essential that the youth should be viewed as ideal beyond age limits in Ataturk’s “Turkish Youth” (5).
Meaning and Importance of May 19, 1919 in the Turkish History
Ataturk was one of the most important commanders of the period. He was against the politics and attitudes of the supporters of the The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) (Turkish: İttihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti), who caused the country to be involved in the World War I. He left a reassuring impression with the sultan and his inner circle during his contact in Istanbul(6), Ataturk and his colleagues were well aware of the meaning and importance of transition to Anatolia and what this transition would actually bring. (7)
Ataturk selected his colleagues and inspectorship officers before arriving at Samsun from Istanbul. His colleagues who went to Samsun with him consisted of eighteen military officers from different ranks and corps.(8) Even though the movement started by Kemal Pasha in Anatolia was not taken seriously in the beginning, the English press wrote articles against the National Struggle and depicted Mustafa Kemal Pasha as a rebellious general after the Sivas Congress. However, in spite of all those pressures, Mustafa Kemal declared his resignation from his duty of inspectorship and the army without receiving any telegraphs regarding the dismissal.(9) He was a simple citizen but he knew his nation very well. Afterwards, Mustafa Kemal expressed this condition as follows; “When I arrived at Samsun in May of 1919, I had no force. I just had a high and inner power which arose from the nobility of the Turkish nation and it filled my heart. That’s how I set off relying on this national power, the power of Turkish nation.” ( op.cit.5)
Ataturk started his speechwith an assessment as follows:
I arrived at Samsun on the 19th of May, 1919. General condition and view: “The Ottoman Empire was defeated in the general war, the Ottoman army was destroyed here and there, an armistice with severe conditions was signed, the nation became exhausted and destitute throughout the long years of the great war…”
and then compiles the solutions of salvation considered as follows (10):
Gentlemen, I approved none of these decisions. Because all evidences and logics on which these decisions were based were just corrupted and ungrounded. During those days, the Ottoman Empire was actually destroyed. The Ottoman territory was completely shattered. There was only a territory where the Turkish ancestors took shelter. The last problem was nothing more than the efforts of sharing this; the Ottoman Empire, its independence, sultan, caliph, government were just a couple of meaningless words… Reliable and real decision… Establishing a new, fully independent Turkish government based on national sovereignty… A nation that is deprived of independence is destined to remain a servant in the face of civilized societies, no matter how wealthy and prosper it is… It is not possible to think that a nation which is not contempted puts a commander into power intentionally… The honor, self-confident and skills of the Turk are very high and great. It would be better for such a nation to be destroyed rather than living in chains." (11)
The aforementioned statements prove that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was a leader who directly moved on behalf of his nation.
Celebration of May 19: the Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day
Nations have some important days. They include either the days that are celebrated with happiness and enthusiasm or disasters that are remembered with sorrow. Both conditions strengthen the national consciousness and increase the desire of living together because the nation is a dynamic organism that is able to unite in pride and sorrow and share the same feelings. National days and holidays are placed on the top of facts that prompt the dynamic of the society.
As the representative of Malatya, Feyzi Efendi, stated on April 23, 1921, “if we do not appreciate sacred days, those days will have no value at all.”(14) In this respect, Edhem Veysi Bey of Canik Sanjak was transferred to the province a few days before the proclamation of the Republic in the beginning of October 1923.(15) Samsun was the center of Canik Province. The province newspaper Samsun started to be published in 1926. The editorial writer of this newspaper, which was published Sundays and Tuesdays, was Edhem Veysi Bey. In his editorial that was written due to Veterans Day, he expressed his thoughts as follows:
"Holidays and celebrations have a great effect on the national life. If nations and especially associations that have been through successive reforms like us start a rejuvenation regarding their past memories for only once or twice, they will determine their future destination. The past should be remembered from time to time. The legends, heroisms and even infidelities and murders that happened in the past should be mentioned. So that the dignity of the good and justification of the bad will be determined.”(16)
When considered from this point of view, May 19 is definitely an event to be remembered. However, the preceding event started to be considered an official holiday and celebrated countrywide just like other holidays in 1938. (17)
Placing a great value on this day, Ataturk started his great speech on May 19, and when he was asked about his birthday, he answered: “why not May 19.” As well as the expectation, desire and enthusiasm of the people of Samsun, “Ataturk’s special interest” enabled the day to be considered among our national holidays. (5)
Ataturk watched the celebration of May 19 in 19 May Stadium located in Ankara for the last time approximately six months before his death.(25) Ataturk desired to grant that day to the Turkish youth and sportsmanship. Thus, the draft of the law that was prepared with respect to adding a clause to the 2nd article of Law No: 2739 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was discussed in the Cabinet and presented to the Presidency of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT/TBMM) on June 1. Being negotiated in the Parliamentary Internal Affairs Commission, the draft was introduced to the Presidency of Parliament on June 8. (26) The draft was negotiated for the first time on June 13, for the second time on June 20, and accepted by the General Assembly of the Parliament. (18). Thus, a clause was added to the second article of Law No.3466 and dated 20 June 1938, which was as follows Youth and Sports Day, 19th of May.(19)
May 19 Youth and Sports Day is the anniversary of the day when Ataturk arrived at Samsun to launch the Independence War in Anatolia against the occupied foreign powers on May 19, 1919. It was formally accepted as a national holiday on 20th of June, 1938 by the law no.3466. Previously, it was celebrated as the Veterans Day or May 19 Holiday in Samsun since 1926--seven years after the Independence War and onwards--. Cemal Kutay associated its final decision as May 19 as the national celebration day, also with the occurrence of Ataturk’s illness was as a sad truth. (20)
In 1981, on the other hand, the name of the day was changed to May 19 the Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day with law no.2429. The official newspaper that was published on October 1, 1981 issued a program regarding how to celebrate that day in Ankara, the capital, and other cities and explained that this celebration would be organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The addition of the words “the Commemoration of Ataturk” to name of the day is an expression of the great respect for Ataturk, who stated “I was born in May 19.”, May 19 is celebrated with physical education and sports shows throughout Turkey and these celebrations turn into a visual feast with simultaneous movements of hundreds of students. The May 19 Race, which starts in Samsun and ends in Ankara, has been organized since that day (21).
In Ataturk's statement, “Youth, who have taken on the task of realizing my future goals! I am very pleased and happy that one day I will leave this country to a youth like you which understands me,”Ataturk expressed his reliance on the Turkish youth . The youth of Ataturk is a youth that pursues great actions just like him, aims at education and knowledge, believes in the existence of modernity primarily in education and technique, researchs, and studies to find the grounds of consciousness forming Turkish Culture and fulfills its requirements, sets the goal, and comprehends and expresses the philosophy, principles and goals of Ataturk. Hence, abiding by the principles and reforms of Ataturk, the Turkish youth will bring the Turkish Nation to the highest point of the contemporary civilization within the shortest time, which was his goal.(4)
Youth And Sports in Turkey within the context of the Millennium Development Goals
Millennium Development Goals:
The United Nations Development Program leads efforts aimed at enabling countries to place the Millennium Development Goals into their national development frameworkby means of UN country teams.
World leaders introduced an assertive action plan in the Summit of Millennium Development Goals in September 2000. This plan was a road map that determined the overall requirements to be conducted in order to attain the goals by 2015, which was determined as the due date. (22)
Millennium Development Goals laid down certain criteria for all aforementioned goals and targeted to attain these goals until 2015. Turkey has accorded its national development priorities with these goals, has taken necessary steps, achieved remarkable successes in this area, and showed its loyalty to the common commitment that was presented by world leaders from the date when the Millennium Development Goals were determined.
Turkey has also determined its national politics in accordance with the above-mentioned goals in order to enable developed nations to contribute to the development efforts of the developing countries. It laced an emphasis on the attainment of goals mentioned with the underdeveloped and developing countries and made efforts on this subject within the scope of the Millennium Development Goals. (23)
Millennium Development Goals have raised internationally important awareness and encouraged to increase efforts aimed at realizing the goals in the least developed, underdeveloped and developing nations. It is clearly visible that a number of underdeveloped and developing nations will not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. In this context, it is obvious that the Development Goals would protect its validity even if its name and content are amended. It is also visible that it is not possible, especially for the Least Developed Countries, to reach the goals of famine relief, basic education, and healthcare reform in the short term. On the other hand, many other countries are required to generate long-term projects regarding the goals of developing gender equality, enablin environmental sustainability, and developing global associations for development (UNDP, 2008).
Youth and Sports in Turkey:
Turkey started a powerful modernization process in 1923 following the foundation of the Republic under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. A great importance was placed on the youth in their education and cultural development in the beginning of this process. Even though the modernization process of Turkey has been sustained without interruption in general terms since that day and has conducted membership negotiations with the European Union today, the country still has to cope with serious difficulties.
Human Development Index (HDI) of Turkey, which was formed to measure the socio-economic development level, was 0.679 in 2010. The country has consequently reached up to 83rd rank among 169 countries. While Turkey has a relatively better condition in terms of the income component in HDI, health and education indicators have not been able to exhibit the same performance. The fact that the logarithmic function is used for calculation of the low index of income also gradually decreases the contribution of the increase in income to the index. Even though we have showed a performance that is close to the HDI average in the lower index of health, education indicators showed that Turkey has been at the lowest level in the index compare to other countries. While Turkey has been on the 57th rank among 169 countries according to income, it has been on the 96th rank according to the expected schooling year and on the 112nd rank according to the average schooling year. (24)
50.5% of the Turkish population are younger than 30. Approximately 20 million of our population consisted of 14-29 year-olds by the end of 2011. In case that the rate of increase continues as it is, 70 % of the Turkish population will be in the working age in 2023. Turkey is the country with the highest young population-to-total population ratio in Europe. This demographic structure could be turned into an advantage through effective and qualified politics aimed at youth. The studies and long-term population projections show that young population will start to decrease as from 2050 in Turkey. (25)
In spite of the efforts of Turkey to meet the needs of young people in various fields and sectors, the scope and outcomes of politics for the youth could not be proportional with the needs of the modern world in general. Studies aimed at the youth should form and realize a series of policies that would develop the skills of young people regarding the economy,as well as their competences, learning abilities, cultural equipments, skills of information management, cognitive capacities, creativity, employment opportunities, options, motivation, health, participation potential, roles of citizenship, democratic values and self-confidence.(26)
Considering the present bureaucratization level of sports management in Turkey within the scope of the right of protecting health and labor power of all citizens, it clearly is an obligation for the government to enhance the life and working conditions of physical education and sports in a methodolical manner, to develop a comprehensive social policy to protect the public health, and encourage the school and everyone for physical education and sports while applying this policy (27).
With these duties and responsibilities, for the first time, the phrase of sports has been involved with the law guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey in 1982. Youth, sports and sportsmen were assured in the 58th and 59th articles of the Constitution. The Ministry of Youth and Sports sustains its activities countrywide by the provisionin the 59th article of our Constitution and asserts, “The government takes precautions to develop the physical and mental health of Turkish citizens from all ages, encourages the deployment of sports among masses and protects the successful sportsmen.” (28) However, nowadays the path of integration with the world is enabled through connecting economic and social internal dynamics with the power of reproducing the self and consequently directing the relations with the external environment at a certain level. The government should extend the renovated central and local public mechanisms and get reorganized for this. The democratic government organization that works on renovated public mechanisms is the primary assurance of enabling the integration of the country with the world as a determinant power.(29) All of these strategies should coincide with Ataturk’s goal of catching up with the level of contemporary civilizations.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Although the share of the young population in Turkey is higher than in other developed countries, the official youth policy of Turkey has been identified as a priority to protect youth from harmful habits. In addition, it was indicated in the development plans that studies would be conducted to enable young people to evaluate their spare time more efficiently. It is very important to determine the services aimed at young people within the scope of their demands and views in order to enable these services to be effective. According to the youth report titled: The United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report: Turkey 2008,in Turkey there is a need to support a significant youth policy and youth organizations. This need for a significant youth policy is valid not only for Turkey, but also for North and South American and European countries. (30)
According to the Human Development Report of the United Nations (UN) (2008), Turkey has a demographic window of opportunity of 15 years to prepare today’s young generation for the struggle of 2023 and beyond. The report indicates that approximately seventy percent of the Turkish population will be in the working age by 2023 and this population in the working age will continue to increase until 2040, even with just a decreasing rate. The report also indicates that today’s young people will comprise the majority of decision makers and implementers in Turkey in 2023 and it is necessary to start making investments to prepare the Turkish youth for the difficulties of next years henceforwards. (op.cit 26)
Having a young population is an opportunity for developing economies. Young societies might become an important factor in accelerating the socio-economic development when sufficient opportunities are given to them and a youth policy that provides the social inclusion is prepared.(31) Regarding the implementation of studies on youth in Turkey, the action plan of the 60th Government has a general definition directly aimed at the youth, which is as follows, “studies aimed at strengthening the youth will be increased.” (32)
It is asserted that the youth policies are based on the fact that it is important to accomplish all possibilities suggested for the youth with their own desires, and additionally that many European countries have a definite certification system aimed at those who work with young people based on voluntariness or occupation. (33)
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (2002) indicates that it is expected for the world population to show an increase of fifty percent and become nine billion by 2050. It also indicates that half of the world’s population is younger than twenty, ninety percent of the young population live in developing countries, the youth is an important shareholder in the global economy and will create a driving force for changes in the near future. (34)
The habit of doing exercises regularly for a healthy life is gradually spreading all over the world. World Health Organization recommends a physical activity of 30 minutes for adults and 60 minutes for children in a day. In this context, it is required to provide cooperation between the health, education, and sports sectors in order to identify and implement the strategies that are necessary for decreasing both the personal and community health risks with the help of sports. Sports makes important contributions to the economic and social harmony and forms more integrated societies. Considering the necessity for all citizens to have the opportunity of doing exercise, a special attention should be placed on the requirements of some sections of the society that “need to be protected due to their special conditions” and the efficiency of sports should be increased for young, disabled and destitute groups.(26)
It could be asserted that programs and projects that are prepared by sports organizations only for sports play is important in enabling young people to have a good physical, cognitive and psychomotor development in overcoming the adolescence period. It is required to emphasize that young people should actually be used as a beneficial source for the society by implementing legal arrangements supporting the youth and renew constantly the management groups by shortening office term of those whom are selected as managers and decision makers in order to provide the sustainability of the youth structuring model. (35)
Three slogans: “Peace-Participation-Development” were put into practice in the World Youth Year of 1985 for ten years and anticipated as a target for member countries of United Nations until 1995. It was required to increase the number and variety of sports organizations that would effectuate these three slogans. During the press conference that was organized at the UN Head Quarter in New York, the Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan emphasized the importance of sports in reaching peace and made an explanation as follows, ''Sports is a universal language and has the power of uniting people no matter what their origins, histories, religious beliefs, and economic conditions are.” He expressed that the United Nations declared the year 2005 as the International Year of Sport and Physical Education.
In order to proclaim the International Year of Sport and Physical Education of 2005, a Sport and Physical Education Expert Committee was formed under the UNESCO Turkey National Commission. The program of the committee, which was organized on 24th of June 2005 and titled: “Play and Sports Right of the Child,”discussed about a number of subjects.
It is the essential principle of the convention on the rights of children to raise our children as creative individuals with self-confidence, who are aware of their rights, could defend their rights, and respect the rights of other people. As well as the rights of nourishment, health, shelter,and education, children who will be raised in accordance with this principle are also accepted to have the right to play, which is equivalent to those rights. These rights were embodied in the United Nations Human Rights Convention that was published in 1959 and in the 7th article of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child that was published after the development of that convention.
Accordingly, the child should be given a full opportunity in playing, just like in education. Society and public authority should try to fulfill this right. Malta Declaration of the Child's Right to Play, which was explained in 1977, reemphasized the vital importance of playing for the development potential of every child, just like nourishment and education. As a result of the convention on the rights of children that was accepted by the United Nations in 1989, rights of the child were determined in 4 main groups as: life, development, protection and participation. Article 31 of the convention accepted the right of the child to take a rest, and evaluate spare time, participate in game activities that are appropriate for her/his age and an arrangement was brought regarding this subject. (36)
As a consequence, the title of “the Advocacy of Children’s Right to Play, Protection of Youth and Extension of Sports” should be included in the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations in order to enable and support Children/Young People, and consequently the adults of the near future, to become healthy and happy by means of sports. The forthcoming studies to be conducted in this context should be supported and new projects should be developed.
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Photos by: Cora Fernandez
Special Thanks To: Hande Subasilar and Alana Bache
Posted by: Bircan Unver on July 5, 2014