May 31, 2017

Turkey plans to get all Syrian refugee children into permanent schools within three years

Syrian refugee children in a Turkish government-run school

Photo credit: Turkey PM Press & Info

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

The Turkish government aims to accommodate 300,000 Syrian children currently in temporary classrooms and another 350,000 who are not getting any education.

About 485,000 Syrian refugee children are getting an education in Turkey - but only 181,000 of them are permanently in state schools. The rest are having their lessons in temporary classrooms. 

That will change over the next three years, as the temporary facilities are shut down and all children move into permanent schools.

The plan was revealed by Turkish government minister Nabi Avci, who said 58% of Syrian refugees in the country are currently getting an education.

But that still leaves almost 350,000 school-aged children who are not in school. The three-year plan includes getting every one of them into a state-run facility too.

Avci released figures which showed that:

  • 181,595 Syrians are studying at state schools with Turkish children
  • 302,777 Syrians are getting an education at 432 temporary facilities

Ronak and Hazer, both 10, from Kobane, are living in Sanliurfa, Turkey, and both dream of becoming teachers

Photo credit: UNICEF / Yurtsever

He said 490,000 Turkish language kits had been prepared for Syrian children and refugees had received scholarships, accommodation and conditional cash grants to encourage their education.

Almost 20,000 Syrian educators were receiving the training needed to work as teachers in Turkish schools.

In January, Turkey announced a plan to build new schools for tens of thousands of Syrian refugee children. 

In March, it was announced the European Union's biggest programme for education in emergencies will help 230,000 refugee children attend school in Turkey. 

“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," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "This will help us reach 230,000 children - a major step in preventing a lost generation.”

Help is also being delivered from other sources. Last week the government of New Zealand committed to funding a new school for Syrian refugees in Şanlıurfa province in southern Turkey.

"The funding will also provide for purchasing essential classroom equipment such as desks and chairs," said Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee. "Construction is expected to start later this year."

Also last week, a new school funded by the United States, built by UNICEF and run by the Turkish government was opened in the southern city of Adana. The middle school will take in about 1400 Syrian students.

Theirworld visited Istoc Primary School last year, where Syrian and Turkish children both attend classes

Photo credit: Theirworld/Jessica Bryant

Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, opened the school and said: "We as the international community need to support and strengthen the Syrian people and we look forward to doing more of these projects and partnerships together with you."

Turkey is the biggest host of refugees in the world, with almost three million Syrians - 1.3 million of them children. Only 10% live in refugee camps.

Theirworld's #YouPromised campaign has been calling on world leaders to keep to their promise to get every Syrian refugee into school in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

The number of Syrian refugee children who are in school has increased - thanks to the efforts of their host countries and partners.

But 534,000 have yet to set foot in a classroom. That means more funding and clearer planning is needed urgently if world leaders are to keep their promise to educate every single refugee child.

We are a global children's charity committed to ending the global education crisis and unleashing the potential of the next generation.

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