January 19, 2017

More than half of Syrian refugee children now in schools in Turkey

A young girl prepares to set off for school in Nizip 1 refugee camp at Gaziantep in southern Turkey

Photo credit: UNICEF / Ergen

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

There has been a 50% increase in school enrolment since June - but about 380,000 Syrian children are still missing out on education in Turkey.

Turkey has reached a key moment in its efforts to get all Syrian refugee children into education.

There are now more Syrian children in school than out in Turkey. A 50% increase in enrolment since June means almost 500,000 refugee children are being taught in host community classrooms.

But 380,000 Syrian girls and boys - about 40% of the school-age population - are still missing out on education. And that is leaving them at increased risk of child labour, child marriage, exploitation and extremism.

In February last year, world leaders promised to get every Syrian refugee in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan into school during the 2016-17 academic year.

But 800,000 of those children are still missing out on education. Here's how you can help.

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Turkey hosts more child refugees than any other country - 1.2 million of them.

It also has the largest overall refugee population in the world. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this week it now has three million registered refugees. 

As well as Syrians, there are large numbers of people from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia and other countries.

A girl in a Turkish language class in Nizip 1 refugee camp

Photo credit: UNICEF / Ergen

Of the 2.8 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, 260,000 live in 26 camps where they have access to shelter, health, education and food.

But the European Commission's department for Humanitarian and Civil Aid Protection said: "Despite these efforts from the government, local authorities and the generosity from host communities, 90% of Syrian refugees, (over 2.5 million persons), as well as many refugees from other nationalities, live outside the camps under very challenging circumstances with depleted resources."

UNICEF - the United Nation's children's agency - revealed the latest education figures today.

“For the first time since the start of the Syrian crisis, there are more Syrian children in Turkey attending class than there are out of school,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth after a visit to programmes in southern Turkey.

“Turkey should be commended for this huge achievement. But unless more resources are provided, there is still a very real risk of a ‘lost generation’ of Syrian children, deprived of the skills they will one day need to rebuild their country.”

Since 2013, UNICEF has helped to build, renovate or refurnish nearly 400 schools and trained 20,000 Syrian volunteer teachers.

Two young girls wave from their classroom window at a pre-school in Nizip 1 refugee camp

Photo credit: UNICEF / Al-Issa
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