Turkey's Maarif Foundation, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) running schools abroad, turned its attention to low university attendance among children of Turkish migrant families across the world. To boost the number of Turkish-origin students at universities in Europe and North America, the foundation is setting up "education centers."
Officials say rates of Turkish youth from migrant families attending universities in Europe, the United States and Canada, is around 3%. The foundation's chairman Professor Birol Akgün told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Turkish expatriates, particularly in European countries, sought support from Turkey to increase the number of Turkish university students. Akgün noted that insufficient social support and consultancy services were factors causing low attendance. "We set up new education models and in every country, we want to set up one of two education centers in cooperation with other nongovernmental organizations," Akgün said. The education centers offer additional assistance to university hopefuls.
"We supply them with Turkish textbooks and other materials to help them study," Akgün said. The centers function as prep schools for students looking to sit exams for university. They also function as places to address cultural, language and identity needs of Turkish expatriates' children, Akgün says. The first centers were opened in France and Austria and have seen huge demand. Currently, 450 students attend the center in Austria and Akgün says they will open two more centers in two other European countries by the end of 2019. Maarif will gradually roll out centers in other countries with high Turkish populations, from Germany to Belgium and Canada.
It cooperates with Turkish governments and the country's embassies abroad. The foundation has also started opening dormitories for postgraduate students from Turkey who go abroad to study. The Maarif Foundation, originally founded to take over schools from the global network of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) which controlled schools all over the world, has expanded into an international education body. Apart from controlling schools formerly owned by the terrorist group, Maarif also serves to address the education needs of the Turkish diaspora. It has representatives in 55 countries and run educational activities in 40 countries. Currently, Maarif runs 300 schools which are attended by some 33,000 students.