European Union gives extra $550m to educate Syrian children in Turkey

Education in emergencies

Turkish students and Syrian refugees are educated together at Istoc Primary School which was visited recently by Theirworld


The campaign to get every Syrian refugee children into school in Turkey has been boosted by a funding package announced today by the European Union.

More than $1.5 billion is being delivered to help those who have fled from conflict – including about $550 million of extra spending on education.

Turkey has taken in more than 700,000 Syrian refugee children – more than any other country. But 400,000 of them are still out of school.

How you can help to get one million Syrian refugees into school

Earlier this month Theirworld, the children’s charity behind A World at School, warned that a lack of funding meant those children still face being shut out of the education system when the new school year starts in September.

Theirworld called on the EU to urgently release funds – or leave Syrian children at risk of risk of child labour, trafficking, early marriage and being exploited and vulnerable to extremism.

Syrian refugee Gine Yusuf, seven, holds her school report at a temporary education centre in Hatay

Until today’s announcement, only a small fraction of the money released by the EU to help Syrian refugees in Turkey had been earmarked for education.

“This money is a great first step but there is still a lot more to be done,” said Ben Hewitt, Theirworld’s Director of Campaigns and Communications. Theirworld has been engaged in a campaign to raise school places for Syrian refugees in Turkey, funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Ben added: “We must keep up the pressure to make sure the money pledged by the EU is quickly put to work and other governments also deliver on their commitments, so all of Syria’s refugee children can get back into school.”

The additional money was approved today when the European Commission – the EU’s executive body – agreed more needed to be done to support refugees who have fled the Syrian conflict and the Turkish host communities who have taken them in.

Turkey has a strategy, policies and infrastructure in place to get all 700,000 refugee children into school. But the lack of funding is putting those plans in jeopardy.

Turkish and Syrian children learn together or in double-shift schools

It means a total of $2.2 billion has now been mobilised this year by the EU for education, health, socio-economic and humanitarian support for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The commission said the additional $1.5 billion will help to tackle urgent needs in the 10 most affected provinces.

About $330 million will go directly to the Turkish education ministry to cover the costs of services. A further $220 million will support education infrastructure.

On top of the new money, about $88 million of previously allocated funds for humanitarian aid projects has been handed to partners, including United Nations agencies and international organisations.

The commission said: “EU-funded humanitarian projects in Turkey cover the most basic needs of vulnerable refugees and migrants. They include support for access to primary health care, food and assistance for people wounded in war.

“Projects with a focus on education will cover school transport and access to non-formal education. Particular emphasis is put on ensuring the protection of the most vulnerable, in particular children.”

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