Total Quality in Education (TQE) ornamented with Imece Circles is one of the best methodologies of training Total Quality Persons (TQP). If properly trained, a child can rise above history and gain mastery and insight into his condition and take control of the destiny and future plans of mankind. Peace-oriented, problem-solving new generations should be the main target of all conscious countries. This is very important for the peaceful future of our universe. In Turkish Educational History, the “Village Institutions” Project was one of the best systems to train TQPs but they were not allowed to live. It is believed that peace will be realized through hugging each other not killing!
In this paper, the author & her experiences with İmece Circles will be shared with the participants.
The last few decades of the 20th Century saw drastic changes in global relationships. Nations are now competing with each other to attain “Leadership” in various fields. The best organizations, whether public or private, understand “quality” and know its secret. “Total Quality Management (TQM)”. “TQM” is a philosophy and methodology that assists institutions to manage change and to set their plans for dealing with the external and even internal pressures on the way of attaining “excellence”. At first, It was an important vehicle of the industrial firms and companies. But later on, educational institutions have also been involved in the quality improvement issues.
It is believed that the essence of education lies in the heart of “Quality” because minds, bodies and hearts of the future leaders are shaped within the walls of schools with the support of all people around them. “Total Quality People” are not a matter of chance. It necessitates managing the “quality issues” constantly and continuously. On the other hand, “quality is not words only”. Quality in any sphere can only be accomplished by the people committed to it. The significance of leadership for undertaking the transformation to Total Quality should not be underestimated. Without leadership at all levels of the institution, the continuous improvement process cannot be sustained. “Commitment to Quality” has to be a prime role for any educational leader. To succeed in education, TQE requires strong and purposeful educational leadership.
At schools, not only principals or the administrators but also teachers and students have to be leaders and champions of quality process. The “Mission and the Vision” of the school should be communicated and it should be cascaded throughout the institution, including the classrooms (Sallis,1996). It is known that TQE turns the traditional school on its head and inverts the hierarchy of functions. It empowers the teachers and can provide them with greater scope for initiation. The key aspects of the formation of the leadership role of both teachers and students at school are:

  • to create “awareness” through training among all the school people (including parents) related to the quality needs and essentials of the learners and then,
  • to empower not only the teachers but the students as the leaders of their classes to give the maximum opportunity to improve the teaching-learning process.

The first one starts with the “Quality Awareness Seminars” for the whole school community. The only way of achieving the second is applying “Students’ Quality (İmece) Circles” at the classrooms.
Students’ Quality (İmece) Circles
A new application in schools has evolved recently: Students Quality Circles or İmece Circles in Turkish (Köksal, 2004). This technique includes team-work training, time management, portfolio management, using quality tools, and mainly focuses on PDCA Mindset (PDCA: Plan-Do-Check-Act). The students who are trained in these main issues become successful leaders of their own lives and also of the community (Bonstingl, 1998; Kamran, 2003; Man, 2001& 2002; Köksal, 2004). Starting from 2001, Hayal Köksal has trained and guided nearly 1,000 students’ circles which roughly amount to 2,000 teachers and 8,000 students within different courses and projects. She wrote a book called For Unity in Education: İmece Circles in 2004. She explained and shared the meaning, content and some sample cases of İmece Circles in her book.
TQM was first heard at the beginning of 1990s in Türkiye. Dr. Köksal heard about it during her doctoral courses from her Advisor Prof.Dr.Tokay Gedikoğlu. The year was 1991. Upon his advice, she started reading about it and she loved the essence of the philosophy, for there were love, empathy, system, process orientation and satisfaction in it. Factories and Companies were dealing with TQM but not the schools at that time.
While searching for the related literature, she met with the wonderful book of John Jay Bonstingl: Schools of Quality. The book was completely the same as the model in Köksal’ s mind. She wrote to Prof Bonstingl, and a big journey has started not only for herself but also for most of the school people in Türkiye.
As being one of the pioneers of TQE in Türkiye she wrote an informative guide book for schools and also she translated and adapted Bonstingl’s book into Turkish. Then, she started her TQE seminars throughout the country. First, she gave her first TQE seminar to 55 teachers in an in-service training program with the organization of English Language Education Association (İNGED/ELEA) on 28 November 1998. Then, her seminars went on for years. She shared her TQE ideas and projects with more than 30,000 teachers in 10 years’ time. She has been teaching it now to her students at educational faculties.
Her interest in Students’ Quality Circles started after the ICT-based School projects with National Youth Development Trust (NYDT: in South Africa in 2002 and ICT Seagulls Projects based upon SQC has started in 2003. One of the ICT Seagulls Project team was introduced to the educational world in Lucknow for the first time. In 2009, the project has started its 6th year and up to now more than 200 teams have taken place in it.
Village Institutions as a Sample Case
Dr. Köksal’s one of the main interests has also been “Village Institutions“for years due to their quality-based essence. She had graduated from Izmir Teachers’ Training Institution in 1976 and she was trained mostly by the graduates of Village Institutions throughout her education. She was aware of the great value of those teachers.
Village Institutions were the schools opened under the guidance of great leader Atatürk. She believes that the main functions of Village Institutions were to train contemporary villagers (TQPs) and to take the torch of Ataturk’s reforms to small towns and even very small villages. However, those quality philosophy focused institutions did not live long and they were closed due to some political reasons.
Dr.Köksal has always believed that it was one of the biggest mistakes within the educational history. For, during her first years of teaching professionally, she had worked in the north-east corner of Türkiye (1978-1981) at a very small town and she had seen the social and educational needs and expectations of the people living there and felt sorry for them. The interesting side was that village institutions were opened in late 1930s and closed in late 1940s. If they had still been living in 1970s, Türkiye would have been in a totally different position among the world’s countries.
After so many years, Dr. Köksal has been working at the educational faculties of different universities and training teacher trainees. Her courses are TQE-focused and all the mid-terms and final exam projects are designed in SQC/İmece Circles form. Thus, teacher candidates learn about the quality applications during the pre-service education.
For 3 years, she has been also conducting a project concerning “Village Institutions“. Teacher trainees focus on one of the most important characteristics of “Village Institutions.“ After reading books and watching videos about them, they study in circles, list the present problems of schools and based upon the village institution understanding they try to bring solutions to those problem areas. Then, they present their projects via technology. There have been 18 village institution projects up to now, and when they total 21, she will collect all of them in a book.
Some Final Words and…
Village Institutions trained nearly 17,500 teachers in a limited time. Most of them became very famous authors, educators and politicians. Their second and third generations are still very contemporary and productive. After that point, a Village Institution graduate teacher and author Mr. Gürşen Kafkas’s article will be placed to the Conclusion part of the paper. He is one of the well-known authors of Village Institutioners. He is very productive, with 36 books. We are so sad for losing him. May his soul rest in peace. 🙁

by Gürşen KAFKAS
Village Institutions were an unforgettable miracle of our educational history. With the light there, human beings were gaining a secular viewpoint based upon logic and science. The system was teaching the young village children how to be productive through personal efforts and social team work (called İmece). The main aim of the Turkish Republic and the reforms of Atatürk were in fact to create the enlightenment period in education. The only way of realizing this was to reach at the small towns and villages. Villagers had been seen and accepted as tax payers and volunteer soldiers for ages. Whereas, with the Village Institution Project, the village people and the government would have been hugged. Of course, it was a long and difficult job. So, Mr. Ismail Hakki Tonguç, who was one of the architectures of this project, used to whisper the following lines continuously with a great joy: “I try the steep roads and I overcome each obstacle….”
He was very happy to be training young, bright and professional village people whose efforts and productivity would have returned back to their villages again. The system of training “Village teacher“ program of Mustafa Necati had been transferred to multi-functional, full-equipped “Village Institutions“. That change in education was behind some new developments. A great amount of population of Türkiye had been living in villages and the aim was to turn their lives to a modern, productive and rich way. In other words, to improve the way of thinking and living of all those villagers who had been slaves of the Sultans and Aghas for centuries was the target of Atatürk and his Ministers. Thus, slavery would leave its place to free and scientific thinking.  
Through their training, social development and personal improvement would have been realized. That project would also stop the immigration of villagers to cities. We would never witness the suburb area problems and all the villages would now have been modern and cultivated lands to be visited by the city people. On the other hand, there was a great need for some leaders who are good at healthcare, technical issues, environmental consciousness and ethical values. As a result of the hard work of Hasan Âli Yücel and Ismail Hakki Tonguç, the “Village Institutions Law” was prepared. While preparing that law, they made use of the systems and success stories of the various developed countries.
They believed that the students of those institutions must have come from the villages and they must have had a villager’s agricultural knowledge, understanding rural area habits and health. Within the foundation philosophy of Village Institutions; respect, love, collaboration and tolerance were the main ingredients. After the difficult battles and the Victory after a great Independence War, it was the time of being a social state. For a better and productive, modern life, they must have been trained and enlightened. It was a great need to send all kind of services to villages and also to train such teachers who would take that spirit to the villages in Anatolia. That was the reality and essence of “Village Institutions!”. They had formed such a system that in which all the villagers would grow whatever they needed and it would have been based upon working and laboring, and within the educational system everyone would learn by doing.
In that system, theory and practice would go hand in hand. As a result of those efforts, all the empty, neglected fields turned green. Wheat and oats covered all the land.  Mr. Tonguç was sending trained teachers to villages by saying: “You are our hope for the future”. All the village teachers were solving all the problems of the village people one by one, teaching them the virtues of ethical values, women rights, social responsibilities and rules of citizenship.
Cultural training was being realized through practical applications and scientific research was the essence of all solutions. Through the productive training, all the young people were gaining self-respect and courage for problem solving. Twenty-one different village institutions had become the source of hope and achievement for many young village children. Our folklore which had been covered for years had started to shine again. Every corner of Türkiye has been changing with the Aegean children’s “Zeybek”, and Black sea region children’s “Horon”. All the Turkish people from East to the West corner were hugging each other and their values had been mingling with each other on the way of attaining the same goal. The culture of Anatolia had been appearing with the poetry, songs and cultural dances of the children. That was not enough for the village institutions. Students were also learning the values and products of international cultures. The Classical books of the Western Renaissance were being read by the village people and thus the curtain over their eyes had been opened, and they had tasted the enlightenment.
The following lines were one of the most popular rhymes on their lips:
On the same route, the same effort
The same wish in all the hearts
To see the villagers ahead
To improve the villages…

 Village Institutions would be the hope of our future, all the future would have been founded by them. The form of the new state was Republic, the throne of it was Democracy and the light of it was education. Within that educational system, the only honorable and prideful source was the village institutions. The children of ignorant villagers were running to institutions and then to their own villages as they trained human resources. That system was such a system that it was student-centered, far from memorization, leading and preparing the youngsters to the problem-solving futures.
Village institution students were those who were not affected by hunger or bad living conditions such as hard beds; they were strong and full of hope and motivation. Only through that system villagers would read, learn and improve. For their hygiene, their nurses and healthcare personnel would have run to villages. They would do their agriculture through scientific methods, take care of their cattle through modern systems and share their folklore with joy and fun. Things and/or people taken from villages would go back to villages again as stars and lights. They would enlighten the darkness.
Villagers would have been conscious about the values and responsibilities of citizenship, would have spoken a better Turkish, would have gained national values and would love their nation and land in a different way. They would carry their flag, Independence Rhyme and Atatürk as national symbols in their hearts. For, village institutions were giving the feeling of being a nation to all minds and hearts.
Dark hands and cruel tongues resisted the improvement of the villages. Some evil people related to the Business world, politics and religious order collaborated with those who were against the development of Türkiye. They closed those schools and they re-powered the darkness again. What a pity that; since 1923, we have been struggling with huge educational problems without making use of that excellent educational system we once had. The fate of those schools started with Ataturk’s Enlightenment Period; however, the light of that torch had been turned off. What a big loss for Turkish people!

Bonstingl, J.J.(1996). “Schools of Quality”, 2nd Ed., ASCD, Virginia,USA.
Demirel, Ö.(2003). Planlamadan Değerlendirmeye Öğretme Sanatı. Pegem Yayıncılık, Ankara.
Downes, T. (1995). Children and Electronic Media: The Home-School Connection, In Ian Selwood, Peter Fox and Maurice Tebbutt (Eds.), The Proceedings of the Birmingham, Sixth IFIP World Congress, p.23.
Kanji, G.K. & J.J.Dahlgaard. (1995). TQM Leadership in TQM Proceedings of the 1st Worşd Congress, Chapman & Hall, London.
Kafkas, G. (‘008). “Yeniden Köy Enstitüleri”, p.41., Trend Publishing, Istanbul.
Köksal,H. (1999).”The Importance of Quality in Schools” in Arena, Issue 24, Nov. 1999, London.
…. (2003). Kalite Gerçeği. Akademi Yayıncılık, İstanbul.
….. (2004).”Eğitimde güç Birliği, İmece Halkaları”, Akademi Yayıncılık, Istanbul.
OECD, Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. (1999). “Innovating Schools”, Paris.
Kamran,V. (2003). Quality Person. A paper presented at the 6th ICSQCC, Lucknow, India.
Man, J. (2001). The Best of Innovation: I AM WISE, Innovation and value Creation, IEIQC Conference papers.“ “ (2002). The Making of A QC Genius, Smart Process International Publications, Singapore.
Sallis, E.(1996).”Total Quality Management  in Education”, Kogan Page, London.

Hayal Köksal is the founding president of SÜGEDER and YİMEDER and the Director General of Türkiye within the World Council for Total Quality & Excellence in Education (WCTQEE). She has had her doctoral degree in Educational Sciences and her Associate Professorship in Highereducation Studies. She has been training teachers for 45 years. She is also a researcher and author of sixteen books.

Dearest Vilage Institute Graduates with my teacher trainees


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