As an alternative to the classes at her school in Diyarbakir, in southeast Turkey, she would have to choose from three electives: the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the Quran or basic religious knowledge or fail the year.
"It seriously damaged my child's psychology," said Guvener, who heads the Protestant Church in Diyarbakir. He accuses the school of deliberately forcing religious education on students a claim the teachers' union denied.
Turkey has long enshrined the secular ideals of founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, particularly in an education system that until recently banned Islamic headscarves in schools and made schoolchildren begin the day reciting an oath of allegiance to Ataturk's legacy. Now proponents of Turkey's secular traditions claim President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is taking a new path, building a more Islam-focused education system to realize his stated goal of raising "pious generations."
The ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party insists it is simply heeding the demands of a conservative and pious majority. It says the education measures aim to undo restrictions on religious education that were imposed following Turkey's so-called "soft military coup" of 1997, when the then-powerful military which saw itself as the guardian of Ataturk's secular principles pressured an Islamic-led government out of power and moved to close down vocational religious middle schools.
"Education is an ideological tool," said Sakine Esen Yilmaz, secretary-general of the left-leaning Education and Science Laborer's Union. "It is (now) being used to raise an obedient generation that will serve the government."
Last week, thousands of people demonstrated in Istanbul to demand that the secular principles of education be upheld. They urged the government to halt a perceived campaign to impose the Sunni faith and to respect the rights of students from the Alevi Shiite sect that constitutes Turkey's largest religious minority.
Education expert Abbas Guclu, who writes for Milliyet newspaper, argues that increasing religious education may not necessarily lead to a more pious generation.
"It is not possible to control the youth of today," Guclu said. "If they spend three or five hours at school, they spend eight or 10 hours in front of the Internet, the social media or television. For every few hours of religious education they spend hundreds of hours elsewhere, being bombarded by other things."
Turkey rolls back secular education for 'pious generation'