350,000 school-aged Syrian children in Turkey, just half receiving education

350,000 school-aged Syrian children in Turkey, just half receiving education

Gamze Kolcu ANKARA
350,000 school-aged Syrian children in Turkey, just half receiving education

Kurdish refugee children from the Syrian town of Kobani flash victory signs in a camp in the southeastern town of Suruç, Oct. 20. REUTERS Photo / Kai Pfaffenbach

The number of school-aged children out of the 1.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey is now more than 350,000, new figures have shown, demonstrating the size of Turkey's ongoing refugee burden.

However, only around 140,000 of these children are able to receive an education, with the remaining 200,000 unable to enroll in school. Syrian refugee teachers have been instructing the 140,000, who are being provided education, according to the Syrian national curriculum.

As of September, Turkey had received only 25 percent of the funding it requested as part of the 2014 Syria Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP6). RRP6, coordinated by the United Nations, brought together more than 155 donors to help Syrian refugees and the local communities hosting them in Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

However, the hundreds of thousands of school-aged refugees herald the potential humanitarian impacts of the absence of a viable solution to the Syrian crisis, which shows no signs of slowing.

Of those Syrian citizens who are under temporary protection, 250,000 are living in camps set up by Turkey’s disaster agency, the Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD). In those camps, formal education is given for children from pre-school age to Grade 12.

Among them, 7,500 are pre-school age, 35,000 are attending primary school, 20,000 are in middle school and 10,000 are enrolled in high school.

The Education Ministry has been coordinating with both AFAD and the Interior Ministry's Directorate General for Migration Management in all of its planning and activities regarding Syrian and Iraqi citizens who have come to Turkey as part of huge recent refugee influxes. The ministry, meanwhile, released a circular in September that removed bureaucratic obstacles to the registration of child refugees at schools operating under its authority.

Turkish officials hope to create opportunities to ensure that an additional 100,000 refugee children receive schooling later this year.

At schools operating under the Education Ministry’s authority around the country, there are currently 5,000 refugee students in primary schools, 3,000 in middle schools and 1,000 in high schools. These numbers, however, are expected to increase this year, with officials estimating that the total figure will jump from 9,000 to 30,000.

Within the framework of the same circular, the ministry has been setting up temporary education centers that have been allocated solely for Syrian refugees. Currently, there are more than 90 temporary education centers that are serving around 70,000 children.

During the 2013-2014 school year, around 1,800 Syrians attended universities in Turkey, while this number is expected to rise to 4,000 for 2014-2015, with the Directorate of Overseas Turks under the Prime Ministry (YTB) planning to deliver scholarships to around 1,000 Syrian students.

Meanwhile, UNICEF and Turkish officials have been coordinating efforts to train volunteer Syrian teachers at refugee camps, providing instruction to 3,500 teachers so far.