This article looks into how religion was situated within the educational policies of the early republican era (1920–38) in Turkey. The existing literature on Turkish nation building treats the educational policies of the time as solely and unchangingly directed toward the Westernization and secularization of the newly built nation. The present work is critical toward these works, and its aim is twofold. First, it demonstrates that while the direction and content of the republican elite's educational policies included the aims of Westernization and secularization, they also went beyond and above these two goals. More specifically, religion occupied a central place in educational policies. Second, the present article also demonstrates that the content of educational policies shifted throughout the Kemalist era and that these shifts signified a redefinition and reinterpretation of the role of religion in the education system.

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