Schooling Gaps for Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Melissa Hauber-Özer

Forced Migration Review, Issue 60, March 2019


This article discusses gaps in the provision of education to Syrian refugees in Turkey. Education services for Syrian refugees in Turkey were initially provided through temporary education centers (TECs) established in refugee camps as well as in communities with large numbers of refugees. TECs provided schooling based on the Syrian national curriculum, taught in Arabic, supplemented with Turkish language and history lessons. Lack of teacher training, consistent funding, authority to issue diplomas, and lack of supervision by Turkish authorities raised concerns about the quality of education. As refugees moved out of camps into host communities, the Turkish government announced in 2016 that TECs would gradually be closed or turned into integrated public schools, with the goal of moving all Syrian children into Turkish-medium schools by 2020. Currently only 60 percent of Syrian refugee children are enrolled in school, much lower than pre-war enrollment rates in Syria and enrollment rates for Turkish children. Obstacles to enrollment include: schools refusing to enroll Syrian children; cost of school fees, transport, uniforms and text books; interrupted education; pressure to forgo education in order to work (mainly adolescent boys) or to stay home to avoid gender-based violence or to permit early marriage (in the case of girls). Syrian students who do attend school receive very little support in acquiring Turkish, in catching up on missed material, and in coping with psychosocial challenges associated with conflict, displacement and cultural adjustment. As a result, social integration and academic achievement are limited and dropout rates are high. The author also highlights the lack of understanding among teachers about the challenges faced by the students, indicating insufficient administrative support and knowledge about working with refugee children.




Syria | Turkey