Refugee children's access to education in Turkey urgent need, report says
by Merve Aydoğan
ANKARASep 07, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Merve Aydoğan
Sep 07, 2016 12:00 am
As Turkey continues to host the largest number of refugees, the government is also devoting efforts to establishing a new road map for the children of Syrian refugees to gain access to education. The National Education Ministry recently set up a new agency, which exclusively handles the education of refugees, introducing a series of measures for access to "quality education" for all refugees. In this respect, the Ankara-based Political, Economic and Social Research Foundation (SETA) organized a panel on Tuesday to present its latest report titled, "Roadmap to Education of Syrians in Turkey," in which experts stressed the Syrian refugee children's urgent need for access to education to prevent a lost generation. Speaking at the panel, UNICEF Turkey representative Philippe Duamelle praised Turkey's "generous hospitality" displayed to Syrian refugees while informing that 330,000 Syrian children are currently receiving education in Turkish educational institutions.
The comprehensive report penned by SETA researcher İpek Coşkun and Müberra Emin Görmez has underlined that employment and education are the two critical factors that enable Syrian refugees to adapt to life as a member of Turkish society. While the report aims to contribute to Turkey's roadmap for education of the children of refugees to prevent a lost generation, while speaking at the panel Coşkun stressed that temporary education centers in Turkey are an important contribution to education literature, not only for Turkey but also for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country and worldwide. Providing the latest numbers from Turkey's Directorate General for Migration Management, Coşkun said that there are a total of 1,277,018 Syrian children – between infancy and 18 years of age – who are receiving education or will get an education. Coşkun noted that among the 364,974 Syrian infants and toddlers aged newborn to four years, 300,000 of them were born in Turkey; meaning that the prospective number of Syrian children who will need an education is serious.
Also stating that Turkey does not have a permanent policy regarding language instruction, SETA researcher Coşkun said that offering proper education that teaches Turkish to Syrians is the most critical matter. She further pointed to the three most critical issues that were raised during compilation of the report, with the first being transitional classes for Syrian children to prevent a lost generation. Secondly, the future of temporary education centers where, according to Coşkun, the teachers work amid concerns for their future due to the lack of direction for the future of these centers. Finally, the third issue she addressed was language instruction. Coşkun finalized her remarks by stating that a separate ministry for migration must be established in Turkey for better policymaking. Adding to Coşkun's remarks, UNICEF head for Turkey Duamelle said that education is the most basic right of all Syrian children and underlined that UNICEF always aims to provide it in all circumstances. "Education is very important not only for the future of [Syrian] children but also for the future of Syria," added Duamelle. He said that Syrian children must be able to go to government schools for a sustainable education, further stressing that the Syrian crisis is not only an issue that affects Turkey but also the international community as a whole. He finalized his remarks by praising Turkey for its "generous hospitality" in hosting the highest number of refugees.
Also speaking at the panel, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of National Education Ercan Demirci also announced that the Ministry has established a new education paradigm, adding that the Ministry is conducting efforts to provide accredited certification to the education personnel of temporary education centers. Demirci said, "During the 2016-2017 academic year, [Syrian] students from preschool to 1st grade will be required to attend government schools." He also stated that Turkey has reached out to 66 percent of Syrian children, offering them basic education, as he noted that the Turkish government highly values vocational training. Finalizing his remarks, he stressed that the Ministry aims to reach out to 100,000 Syrian students by the end of this year, also noting that the refugee camps must be restructured to prevent potential risks in the future.