Minister of Education Nabi Avcı announced on Wednesday that only 325,000 Syrians in Turkey are attending school out of more than 756,000 school-aged refugees in Turkey, while the government strives to reach the so-called "lost generation" of refugees.
The war in Syria is in its fifth year with no end in sight, and as in other conflicts, it has taken its heaviest toll on children. Children make up a substantial portion of the refugee population who fled from their devastated country into Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and they are among the most vulnerable. Experts think education is key to save this "lost generation" from a bleak future, yet most refugees are forced to skip school, either to earn a living for their families or due to difficulty in adapting to life in their new host countries. Turkey hosts the largest Syrian refugee population in the Middle East -- more than 2.7 million -- and has struggled to keep Syrian children in school, but the latest figures show it still has a long way to go. Answering a deputy's question regarding the education of Syrian refugees, Avcı said Turkey was home for 756,808 school-aged Syrian children, but only 325,000 attend schools supervised by his ministry or in "temporary education centers" exclusively set up for these children. Avcı said 75,000 Syrian children attend schools organized by the Ministry of Education, while about 250,000 are enrolled in temporary education centers.
The minister added that his ministry had enacted new regulations for easier access to education for refugee children, and all children registered by authorities are eligible to attend schools across the country. Turkey offers Turkish classes and vocational training for Syrians of all ages in public education centers where lifelong learning courses, ranging from handicrafts to computer literacy, are taught. Avcı said those centers provide education for more than 130,000 Syrians.
Turkey is striving to get refugee children enrolled in schools, with Ankara aiming for at least 460,000 children enrolled in schools by the end of this year. Due to the large number of refugees, many children are provided education in schools attended by Turkish students. A half-day course system in Turkish schools enables separate classes for refugee children, who take afternoon classes taught by Syrian teachers. The classes are compatible with the Syrian curriculum.