Investing in the next generation
Title: Supporting Syrian refugees and Turkish host communities – educational programme
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2015 to February 2017
Two-and-a-half million Syrians have fled to Turkey since the start of the Syrian conflict, predominantly to the south-eastern provinces, where over two million of them are living not in camps but in cities, towns and villages. More than half of the refugees are children and youths, and half a million are of school age. In recent years they have often had no schooling of any kind in their war-torn homeland.
Schools in Turkey are unable to absorb the large number of refugee children in their regular classes. Due to a lack of space, many state schools are now teaching Turkish children in the mornings and Syrian children in the afternoons. The number of hours of instruction is decreasing to enable teachers to cope with the massive influx of pupils. Turkish parents consider this situation untenable in the long term as the quality of education is suffering.
According to estimates by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), fewer than 20 per cent of the Syrian children currently benefit from regular instruction in Turkish schools. This is because the schools are under huge strain and children often have insufficient knowledge of the Turkish language. Boys, in particular, look for odd jobs to help to support their families. Furthermore, many children are traumatised by their experiences of war and having to flee their country, a problem which schools are currently unable to address. Syrian and Turkish schoolchildren live largely in parallel worlds with hardly any opportunity to interact and get to know each other.
Syrian and Turkish schoolchildren in the province of Gaziantep receive better schooling.
In coordination with its Turkish partner, GIZ is extending and modernising three schools and refurbishing another school that has so far stood empty. Schools are also being provided with necessary equipment such as desks, chairs and blackboards. UNICEF is supplying materials such as exercise books, pens and pencils. The Turkish Ministry of National Education has recruited Syrian teachers from among the refugees, who are working as volunteers in return for a small allowance. Not all of them are trained teachers.
Additional language classes and special tutoring at the schools are to make it easier for Syrian children to catch up on the school years that they have missed and to learn Turkish.
Turkish and Syrian teaching staff will in future use the schools to bring together parents and pupils from both the host communities and from refugee families. They will be encouraged to take part in common sporting and cultural activities, where they will have the opportunity to get to know one another.
The improved availability of educational opportunities will enable an additional 2,000 Syrian and 2,500 Turkish children to attend school by 2017. Turkish and Syrian teaching staff, parents and pupils will become acquainted with one another at theatre, dance and sports events and joint festivities held at the four schools. This will lead to greater social interaction and more cultural and interpersonal exchange between Syrians and Turks.