Speech of H.E. Abdullah Gül, 11th President of Republic of Türkiye at the Graduation Ceremony of AGU for the year of 2022-2023

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Dear Guests

Distinguished faculty members

Dear students and parents,

I greet you all with respect, love and affection on such a beautiful summer evening.

I am very happy to be at the 6th Year Graduate Ceremony of AGU.

As far as I can see, there are very valuable personalities among us who have contributed a lot to education, especially to the development of education in Kayseri. I was very pleased to see them too.

Dear Guests,

The past years have been rough. First, Covid pandemic and its process, and then the earthquake disaster caused pain. As a result, students had to stay away from their universities. Finally, I hope that all these pains will be left behind and the campus life will start in the best possible way, and I pray to Allah that such pains will not be experienced from now on.

The earthquake disaster shook all of us Kayseri was not affected, but I know that the people of Kayseri made great contributions to the earthquake victims for their recovery. I was very pleased that our universities, including AGU opened all their campuses to earthquake victims.

I also traveled to the earthquake zone and witnessed the ongoing pain there. We pray that our country and our citizens will not face such pains and destructions again.

Dear Graduates,

You did not just graduate from here. You graduated from here with a very full saddlebag. When you graduate, you graduate with great advantages. First of all, your teachers put a lot of effort into you, and you are already aware of this asset. Besides, you graduate from here with the excellent foreign language that you learned here. You will witness how much this will benefit you throughout your entire life. I would also like to say that you did not only acquire knowledge here, you also expanded your intellectual capacity and social circle in this university.

By taking advantage of the academic climate here, your worldview and horizons have also expanded.

Now you start the real life and you will experience what it means. Of course, real life is a very difficult, very competitive process. You have to work hard to succeed in it.

Even when you graduate, the education is not getting over. You need to be aware that education continues from the cradle to the grave. You need to constantly renew and upgrade yourself. I have full confidence in you on this issue. Because at this university, they taught you how to reach knowledge and how to use it in the best way. You will be always noticed and shine as long as you have character and determination. I never advice you to be ambitious, it is not good to be passionate and selfish. But be assertive. Be assertive so that you work hard and eventually reach that goal.

I have said many times here that education takes precedence over everything. Investing in education is the best investment to make. This is true for a family, a city, or a country. Education should not be evaluated only by looking at statistical data. The content of education, its characteristic and its quality come above everything else. An average education system never gives a good result. Today I see with sadness the existence of such a danger. Last year, during the graduation ceremony that was held at a time when the results of the university exams were announced, I repeated this fact as well. Educators, journalists, people dealing with science analyze consequences of these unpleasant results. And when we look at it, we notice that these results are not very promising for our future. It should be a wake-up call for us to see that the average results in mathematics, science and our native language Turkish are far behind what is desired. For this reason, it is necessary to take long-term measures, make serious analyzes and develop policies based on them. Boasting that a country has a large population does not mean much. However a sizeable population makes sense if it is qualified enough. The unqualified population becomes only a consumer and burden on the society. In this regard, education is the most important issue to advance in our country.

There are some issues that can be materialized fast if there is a political will. But educational issues require long-term process. Therefore, very serious strategies, stable and sustainable practices should be applied. As we enter the second century of the Republic, I believe that this will constitute the item to attach utmost importance. After the establishment of the Republic, serious important educational reforms were made. Numerous valuable professors were brought from outside and inside, and those who graduated from the universities where they taught formed the backbone of the Turkish bureaucracy. Now we have universities in every city of Anatolia and when you look at where the best buildings are in these cities, you can immediately catch that this is a university. But what is taught in it, what is the content of its education, there are very important questions to answer. I think we have neglected a lot on the subject matter. I see that there are ups and downs on it. Unfortunately, we are far from serious long-term education policies. I hope this issue will be handled and discussed separately as we begin the second century of tour Republic. Hopefully, a considerable long-term new education policy, far from the governments and the climate of politics, will mark on Türkiye's upcoming agenda.

How do we understand success? We understand success by comparison. Now, if a graduate here says that he got very good grades, he may seem successful, but if other students in his class get even higher grades, then there is a deficiency in this achievement. So success comes when we compare with others. If we compare the achievements of countries with other countries, we can understand where we stand. The most important comparison in this regard is made among OECD countries, which have 38 members. When we look at how much OECD countries invest in education, how much they spend, what the success of theirstudents is in the PISA measurements, and then we compare with our situation we face unfortunate consequences. We still cannot reach the OECD average in the field of education and we cannot exceed this average. In that respect, I would like to underline this once again. Türkiye's most important issue is education, and the most important elements in education are the academic content and teachers. I hope these will be taken very seriously.

Kayseri is a city to be proud of in terms of education as it hosts 4 universities. Erciyes University is one of the oldest universities in Türkiye. I am very pleased to see Mehmet Şahin, one of the former rectors of Erciyes University, among us. Prof. Şahin is a person who pioneered the growth of universities in Kayseri, especially through mobilizing philanthropists to invest in and contribute to education. Kayseri University is a newly established one. Nuh Naci YazganUniversity also exists and as far as I can see its rector is here, and finally there is AGU. Therefore, Kayseri deserves to be a university city. There is a friendly competition together with cooperation among these universities, and all of them will always serve to the development of education in Kayseri and Türkiye. I believe our cities will repeat the example of Kayseri. As a result, on one hand the means of state facilities, on the other hand the contributions of benevolentpeople and the support of foundations and associations will enable theinvestments in this field to go much further, following the same path of Kayseri.

Finally, I want to address our students, graduates.

As now you have graduated, you have started your business life. Do not forget that everything starts with being a good person. So be a good person. Of course, be patriotic, but never forget that you also have a duty to all humanity. Remember that people with character and who are hardworking and honest are noticed everywhere and immediately become privileged. Manipulative, opportunist, very ambitious people may seem successful at first, but at the end they are also noticed and they just fail. Therefore, always be a good person with character. Consider that you have a duty to other people. Of course, never neglect your family, your country and remain hardworking. Do not satisfy with what you learned here, build new ones on top of them. Keep your eyes not only on Türkiye but also on the other countries of the world. Move on, read, work,improve your knowledge at the highest level. At the end, of course, we will be proud of each of you who are the real value of our country. I congratulate you all again. I sincerely congratulate your valuable teachers who have contributed to your success.

Your families have supported you throughout your entire life, of course. Now it is their time to be proud of you. I congratulate them all as well. I would like to express my special thanks to our founding Rector, our current Rector, and valuable faculty members, who have provided tremendous contribution to the success of our university. I certainly believe that you will mark on more achievements in the coming years and we will all be proud of them.

I wish you all a good evening. Thank you.

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