The education of Syrian children occupies a large portion of Turkey’s migration issues. NGOs’ and the state’s efforts on this issue are not new, dating all the way back to 2013. However, the policies regarding Syrian children are still far from meeting expectations. With the new semester, Turkey’s attitudes towards the education of Syrians have shifted towards a new path. To discover this new approach we will focus on Ulaş Sunata‘s conference about Turkey’s education policies at Bilgi University.
Syrian Teachers are in Turkey’s Agenda
It is necessary to think about educational practices within camps together with social life within the camps. Since the location of the camps is very close to Syrian border, it is an important question to get the desired yield.
In 2013, the need for Syrian teachers in the education of Syrians in Turkey has been on the agenda. The issue of employment of these teachers has brought about an important problem. Since the Syrians are not allowed to work, salary payments are made through UNICEF. $ 150 is paid to those who work in the camp, and $ 220 is paid to those who work outside the camp. To resolve the curriculum problems of Syrian teachers, The Ministry of National Education (MEB) has made some changes to the Curriculum of the Syrian National Coalition. The Turkish Educational Curriculum is used for Turkish-born Syrians.
GEMs and NGOs are on the field
The education of Syrian people outside the camp was continued with the support of “Temporary Training Centers” (GEMs) and NGOs’ efforts. In an unexpected decision, the MEB enrolled all the first, fifth and ninth graders into public schools for the 2016 school year. This is an important milestone in the education of Syrian children because the migration and integration policies of Turkey are far from transparent when compared to other European countries. For this reason, a significant part of Turkey’s immigration policies are determined by the language and tone of published documents. At this point, the enrollment of Syrian children in public schools strengthens the perception that the state is now focused on integration policies and will continue to do so in the future.
To encourage registration of Syrian children in public schools, new restrictions were placed on Temporary Training Centers. Syrian children are encouraged to attend public schools within the 2016 period.
Syrian teachers play a very important role in the education of Syrian children. According to the latest statistics, 13.116 Syrian teachers are currently teaching.
Civil war seriously damaged
When considering to the education profile of the Syrians who came to Turkey, it is seen that in Aleppo and Northern Syria, the civil war has had a dire effect on participation and efficiency. The participation rate in formal education in Aleppo is 6%.
The main problems confronting the education of Syrian children are;
- preferring the short-term solutions rather than structural and long-run approaches, access problems for the MEB,
- quality problem,
- record-continuity dilemma.
The Ministry of Education has given priority to increasing the ratio of registered Syrian children in public schools rather than maintaining the continuity of their enrollment. Registration rates have increased to 60% and Syrian children can register at their closest public school even if they haven’t got any identification.
Worsened Conditions of Education
We can also check out the social phenomena that reduce the number of Syrian children in public schools;
- Early marriage
- Pedagogical problems
- Family attitudes
The education language and methods for Syrian children raise some questions. Almost 50% of Syrian people don’t know even a basic level of Turkish. This problem led to structural problems within the education of the children. How children are selected to be put in bilingual or Turkish education is still a mystery.
Experts are warning about the parallel risks for Turkish society. If Turkey can develop a good methodology for educating migrant children, it can prevent them from becoming a lost generation.