March 17, 2017

EU launches project to help 230,000 refugees go to school in Turkey

Syrian refugees and Turkish children both learn at Istoc Primary School at Bagcilar, a suburb of Istanbul

Theirworld/Jessica Bryant

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

With 370,000 Syrian refugees still out of school in the country, vulnerable families will be given financial help if their children go to classes regularly.

The European Union's biggest programme for education in emergencies will help 230,000 refugee children attend school in Turkey.

Vulnerable families whose children regularly go to classes will get cash transfers through the project announced yesterday.

Turkey is home to more than 2.9 million Syrian refugees - 1.3 million of them children. Almost 500,000 refugee children are in state schools and temporary education centres (TECs) - but another 370,000 are not getting an education.

Syrian refugee Ivra, 13, attends class in Turkey's Suruç refugee camp

UNHC/Ivor Prickett

"The EU is committed to supporting refugee children in Turkey and beyond," said Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

"Education in emergency situations is a top EU priority. Our moral duty is to save this generation of refugees children and invest in their future. 

"We have teamed up with experienced humanitarian organisations to make this programme a real success."

Theirworld has been campaigning for world leaders to keep their promise that every Syrian refugee child in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan would be in education during the 2016-17 school year.

Leaders committed last month to track the progress of the pledge made more than a year ago at the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London. 

The co-hosts of those talks - United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations - will be at a meeting on the future of Syria and the region in Brussels in April.

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The Conditional Cash Transfer for Education (CCTE) project in Turkey is valued at more than $36 million. It will be implemented in partnership with the United Nations children's agency UNICEF and the Turkish Red Crescent in support of Turkey's government.

It builds upon a programme launched in September to provide a debit card to the most vulnerable refugees to pay for essential needs like food and shelter.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said: “Children do not need education even in emergencies, they need education especially in emergencies so they can some day rebuild their lives - and their countries.

“Thanks to the EU's generosity and Turkey’s leadership, UNICEF and our partners are already helping thousands of children to go to school and learn. The CCTE will help us reach 230,000 children - a major step in preventing a lost generation.”  

To improve access to education for vulnerable children, the national CCTE programme will be extended to reach a large number of refugee children. The existing CCTE programme has been open to children born outside Turkey since it was launched in 2003.

The President of the Turkish Red Crescent, Kerem Kinik, said: “I am very glad that the Turkish Red Crescent (Kizilai) Card is changing the lives of Syrian children who are our guests.

“I thank the European Union and UNICEF for their joint effort for Syrian students in Turkey. 

"In order not to have a lost generation in our region, the whole world should do whatever it can. In this respect, I consider this project as a very important one.”

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