“Educating Syrian Refugees in Turkey,” by Salih Yasun

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 11.43.22 AMThe Educational Opportunities and Challenges of Syrian Refugee Students in Turkey: Temporary Education Centers and Beyond
By Salih Yasun*
For Syria Comment, July 25, 2016

Almost 3,000,000 Syrians have fled to Turkey since the Syrian uprising began. Approximately 880,000 of those are school-age. 45% of those, or more than 400,000, attend school.[1]

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Syrian refugee students in Turkey who are in preschool or first grade attend only Turkish schools. They do so through a government mandate. After first grade, they face two main options for for education from grade two to twelve. Syrian students can choose to attend either Turkish public schools or temporary education centers. Temporary education centers (TEC) are primary and secondary education centers that provide educational opportunities for school-age Syrian children in Turkey (MEB, 2014). These schools use Arabic as the medium of instruction; they follow a curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education of the Syrian Interim Government and modified by the Turkish Ministry of Education.[2] Currently, approximately 78% of Syrian refugee students attend TEC, and 22% attend other schooling institutions, consisting of mainly Turkish public institutions.[3] In order for students to register at TEC, they need to obtain an international protection ID from a nearby police station. Students can physically attend classes at TEC even if they do not have IDs provided by the Directory of Police if they provide basic information to TEC officials through personal statements. However, students still need to obtain IDs to be able to receive diplomas and grade reports. To be placed in the appropriate classroom at TEC, students need to prove their academic trajectory in Syria or take a placement exam. These exams are not uniform as each TEC has its own exam with different questions. The score of the exam determines the placement of the student into a grade level. Students wishing to transfer to Turkish schools are automatically placed in the nearest Turkish school in proximity of their residence. However, cases of transition remain significantly low. Students who complete their education at TEC can attend in Turkish universities if they succeed through Baccalaureate and YÖS examinations.

The support for TEC comes from different agents such as NGOs, local municipalities, the Ministry of Education, and private donations. The services provided by such agents have included scholarships, meals, transportation, activities for students, wages for teachers, and spaces for education. However, the support is still not sufficient for many TEC to cover the expenses of education. TEC are commonly located in office blocks, NGO buildings, and Turkish public school buildings.

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The basic challenges of TEC can be categorized under three groups. The first group consists of the challenges related to the accessibility to education, which are also relevant for the accessibility to education at public schools. The second group consists of the challenges with the quality of education at TEC, and the third group consists of the challenges of transferring to public schools or universities from TEC. The challenges faced in accessing to education can be summarized as follows:

An important segment of students has to work to cover the living expenses of their families. Some TEC organized conditional aid programs to provide aid for families of students while returning students to TEC. However, the conditional aid programs remain very limited in scope nationwide. Students and parents may not know about educational opportunities in Turkey. The Ministry of Education has coordinated with UNICEF to provide information regarding educational opportunities to students and their parents. School fees can prevent the access to education for many students. Although education is free for refugee children, most TEC are dependent on donations from students with wealthier parents. As a result, in some cases these TEC may choose to admit students whose parents could provide donations over those who could not. This could prevent the orphans or children of poor families from accessing the educational opportunities. Many TEC have not provided uniforms to students. This may prevent students without appropriate clothing from accessing the educational opportunities. This problem is especially acute for girls. Some parents have discriminatory views about girls’ educational attainment, which hinder girls from accessing the educational opportunities.

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The challenges associated with the quality of education can be examined under the topics such as the provision of counseling services, Turkish language education, the quality of teachers, and the provision of educational materials.

Refugee children’s exposure to violence might lead them to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[4] TEC need counselors that can assist students experiencing PTSD. A majority of TEC do not have counselors or the existing counselors are insufficient in meeting the needs of students. Male students tend to be more comfortable consulting with male counselors whereas female students were more comfortable consulting with female counselors. At some TEC all of the counselors are male and at some other all of the counselors are female.

Currently, students at TECs receive four to five hours of Turkish education per week. At some TEC the Turkish education is provided by volunteers free of charge, at others the expenses of Turkish teachers are covered by the TEC or NGOs. The Turkish education is considered insufficient because of the low quantity of language hours the lack of quality of teachers in teaching Turkish to non-native speakers. In addition, the reliance on volunteers may also hinder the language acquisition process due to the absentees of teachers. The opportunities for students at TEC to speak Turkish outside of the classroom is also very limited. The Ministry of Education is providing training for teachers in teaching Turkish to non-native speakers. The Syrian teachers at TEC utilize teacher-centered methodologies with great emphasis on memorization, which hinder the adjustment process of students to the Turkish educational system.

Currently, the Ministry of Education of the Syrian Interim Government provides the textbooks for courses other than Turkish free of charge to the students of TEC. Some TEC provide Turkish language textbooks free of charge, whereas some others charge fees. Some TEC do not provide Turkish language textbooks. Many of the TEC lack the basic science equipment.

Students face some problems in transferring from TEC to public schools. Although the curriculums are close, there are some discrepancies. For instance, a subject might be taught at the 5th grade at TEC but at the 4th grade at public schools, which could add extra challenges to the adjustment phases of Syrian students transferring to Turkish schools. Another problem is the lack of information about the accreditation exams. In the last education year students were given almost no information prior to the exam which prevented students from studying for the exam effectively. At some public schools Turkish teachers and counselors do not pay proper attention to the education of Syrian students despite the fact that Syrian students, many of whom lack the proper Turkish language skills, require more attention than their Turkish peers to succeed in the classroom. In addition, deeply established discriminatory views exist among the Turkish community towards Syrians, which prevent Syrian students’ integration among their Turkish peers.

The problems at TEC can be solved through coordination between NGOs, TEC, ministries and municipalities. Students can be provided with daily meals at TEC to lessen the financial burden of families and incentivize families to send their children to TEC. Special TEC can be opened to target students who have missed years of schooling in order to help them to catch up their peers. The conditional aid programs can be expanded. Transportation means and uniforms can be provided. The ministry of education can open vocational training programs that can enable refugee students to provide meaningful income for their families while earning valuable skills that they can transfer to their home countries.

The wages of teachers can be increased above the minimum wage and provided for 12 months in order to ensure that the highly skilled teachers continue practicing their profession. The number of trained counselors can be increased, with the goal of having at least one female and one male counselor to ensure that both male and female students can access counseling services. Once this is accomplished, the student/counselor ratio can be lowered. Turkish instruction hours can be increased. Turkish language books and basic science equipment can be provided. Sister school projects can be established between TEC and public schools which can enable Turkish and Syrian students to interact with their peers. The teachers at TEC can receive orientation on student-centered teaching methodology.

Free YÖS courses can be opened and the contextual differences between Syrian and Turkish curriculums can be removed to ensure smooth transitions to public schools and universities. Students can be informed in a timely manner regarding the accreditation exams. Orientation services can be provided to teachers and principals at public schools regarding the refugee education. The visibility of Syrian community and refugee students in the public can be increased by providing public service broadcasts focusing on Syrians in Turkey.

* Salih Yasun is a PhD student at the political science department of Indiana University and a graduate of Sabancı University’s master’s program in political science. e-mail syasun@umail.iu.edu

You can find the Full article is here

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[1] Interviews with government officials.

[2] The current curriculum mimics the curriculum utilized in Syria prior to the Civil War. The material in favor of Assad dynasty, Baas party and some controversial elements about Syria-Turkey relations have been excluded from the current curriculum.

[3]Estimations based on Emin, M. N. (2016). “Türkiye’deki Suriyeli Çocukların Eğitimi, Temel Eğitim Politikaları.” SETA.

[4] Brown, D. (1996). “Counseling the victims of violence who develop posttraumatic stress disorder.”

Comments (18)

ALAN said:

Our Syrian educational conclusion from Turkeys lesson:
Turkey’s Coup Plotters are Members of NATO’s Rapid Deployable Corps
The LIAR /الكذاب/ Obama Rejects Claims U.S. Had Advance Knowledge of Turkey Coup

July 25th, 2016, 1:12 pm


eugene said:

Another spotlight on the results of waging war, especially next door to your neighbor. One might ask the question: “do any of the adults who advocate war, even consider the effects upon the younger generations before launching the violent actions of said war?”

July 25th, 2016, 8:57 pm


Majedkhaldoun said:

Lieberman said Sisi is the most important ally to Israel, in the Middle East ,

Cohen was a spy in Syria , he was executed in Marjeh, Damascus , watch up Sisi
Sisi is the enemy of democracy, thousands of Egyptians died because of Sisi, he alway stood against what is right and good , against freedom and democracy , against Egyptians and for Israel, he accumilated huge money account in Europe, while Egypt is heading toward bankruptcy , in fact today the dollar is up to 13 Egyptian pound, where is he going to hide this money that he stole?,

July 25th, 2016, 11:01 pm



Syrian students can choose to attend either Turkish public schools or temporary education centers. Temporary education centers (TEC)”

The only education available in Turkey is the education of terror and destruction. Those what so called “students” will cross back to Syria wrapped with suicide belts.

They should stay in their new country “Turkey” where they belong.

July 26th, 2016, 12:04 am



Putin secrets services accelerate in the last days the terror attacks in Europa. Now that Turkey has fall to Russia and stopped being a US ally Putin need Europe to desintegrate under the rise of far right racists parties. UE is near to end thanks to Putin. Be raedy.

This terror campaign is letting people in UE live in histeria while in Syria the GENOCIDE under RUSSIA, US, ASSAD and IRAN is at its height.

In another perfect Putin move now europeans live in chaos and dont have time and feelings for what´s going to happen in Syria; an historical genocide.

July 26th, 2016, 7:06 am


Ghufran said:

Lairamoun district in eastern aleppo is under rrgime control now and Bani Zaid which rebels use to shell civilians in western aleppo is likely to follow. If aleppo city falls the war will enter a new phase. The war is not over but the fantasy of rebels occupying new cities in syria is.

July 26th, 2016, 10:59 am


Ghufran said:

Western powers toppled Saddam and Qaddafi and tried to topple Assad, they let Turkey send jihadists to Syria while watching gulf states arm Islamists there. What the west got in return is a flood of refugees and a new wave of terrorist attacks in Europe.
Two knife-wielding attackers who had pledged allegiance to ISIS, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” slit the throat of an 86-year-old priest and critically wounded at least one other person during a Tuesday morning terror attack on a Catholic church near the Normandy city of Rouen.
يا أمة ضحكت من جهلها الامم

July 26th, 2016, 12:18 pm


ALAN said:

US General Campbell: The ‘Likely’ NBC Source in Scandalous False Reporti…

General Campbell:
Why your bosses are highly reluctant to extradite Gulen. Are they afraid that he will spill the beans and names of US foreign operatives in Turkey?

Could he may have an accident”? get it so depressed that he “commits suicide”?
The United States is not able to block the sun.

July 26th, 2016, 6:13 pm


Uzair8 said:

If there is any truth in the reports that the Russians were behind the hacking of the DNC to try and derail Hillary’s campaign in order to get Trump into the White House, Hillary is going to be furious.

It may backfire on Putin.

Hillary as President will get her revenge in Syria.

Watch this space….

July 27th, 2016, 1:54 pm


Ghufran said:

Qatar tipped Nusra on an impending US attack in southern Syria. Not sure I can digest this piece of “news”.

July 27th, 2016, 9:59 pm


ghufran said:

Rebels in Jobar gave their positions to nusra / alqaeda.

July 27th, 2016, 10:54 pm


Majedkhaldoun said:

Michelle Obama said
I grew up in a house built by slaves
A Syrian child answered
Your husband and Putin and Assad bombed mine

I wonder how some here on Syria comment were against arming the rebels to defend themselves but never condemned Assad or Putin to bomb cities and civilians in Syria , they are pure hypoc rats, the supporters of Assad, all , are disgusting hypocrites

July 28th, 2016, 6:48 am


Majedkhaldoun said:

يستقوي أعداء الشعب السوري ب ايران و روسيا، و يفتخرون ان حلب طوقت ، و يفرحون ان المدنيين في حلب يقتلون بقنابل روسيا ، لن يهرب الخونة من عقاب الشعب السوري ، أينما عاشوا، يا للعار

July 28th, 2016, 6:56 am


ghufran said:

Ammar Shabaan the Thug in Chief of Nour Addin Al-Zinki, the terrorist group that slaughtered the Palestinian boy in Aleppo last week, was killed during clashes with the army. Ammar was pictured in the video of the murder of the above mentioned boy.

July 28th, 2016, 12:02 pm


ALAN said:

أستقوى خدم قلب النظام في سورية بدول الخليج و دعمهم و تمويلهم غير المسبوق و جامعة الدول العربية و القاعدة و الإخوان المسلمين و تركيا و فرنسا و بريطانيا و ألمانيا وحلف الناتو برمته واسرائيل و الصهاينة و أبواقهم حول العالم و الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية، التي لم توفر بدورها حشد كل دول الانكوساكس و غيرهم … ومنصات المنظمات الدولية التي تمولها وتدير قراراتها و بمقاتلين حشدوا من 84 دولة
الى أن طفح الكيل بعد أن حولتم حلب و غير حلب الى مرتع يصول و يجول فيه كل أنواع التأسلم الصهيوني الفاشي منقطع النظير و جاء من هم من الخارج بقيادة الولايات المتحدة و من معها ليخرقوا القانون الدولي بغزو جوي وأرضي وبعد ذلك يمكنك أن تتحدث عن الخيانة و العار؟!

July 28th, 2016, 12:47 pm


Uzair8 said:

Rana Kabbani @RanaKabbani54 2h
Out of the rubble, we will rise. #Syria


July 28th, 2016, 1:01 pm


Ghufran said:

The rebranding of a terrorist:
Jolani of Nusra worked under Isis and was in US custody before he was released in 2008. Under advice from Qatar he announced breaking from alqaeda and establishing a new terrorist organization that will blend with armed groups in Syria to make it harder for his enemies to target his fighters. He also wants to accommodate his backers in gulf countries by pretending that he is changing his skin and moderating his message. This move means that the GCC is not about to end its support for terrorism in Syria, they just want to play the game of name change. Not going to work, juju !!

July 28th, 2016, 2:01 pm


Ghufran said:

Thousands of Allepines in latakia celebrating what they see as the beginning of the end of their 4 year suffering. Erdogan as we predicted has sold his ” friends”. Never believe a politician and never trust an islamist.
كل ثوره و أنتم بخير

July 28th, 2016, 8:16 pm


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