Syrian children’s enrollment in secondary education still low: Expert

Syrian children’s enrollment in secondary education still low: Expert

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Syrian children’s enrollment in secondary education still low: Expert

Turkey continues to host the largest number of school-aged refugee children and youth, which increased to 976,200 in 2017 from 833,039 in 2016, with efforts provided increasing enrollment in primary schools, yet access to secondary education is still low, an expert said.

With the National Education Ministry’s progressive inclusion of Syrian children and youth in the national system, there are more school-age Syrian children enrolled in Turkish public schools (373,381) for the first time than in temporary education centers (237,234) in 2017, Research Centre on Asylum and Migration (İGAM) president Metin Çorabatır told Hürriyet Daily News.

Due to great efforts of host countries and the international community, the enrollment rates for refugee children in primary schools are increasing.

However, when it comes to access to education, a vulnerable group is youth and more than 76 percent of Syrian youth outside of Syria live in Lebanon and Turkey, he said.

“Overall, regional enrollment rates in secondary education are low: 24 percent in Jordan, 6 percent in Lebanon and 2 percent in Turkey. The regional average of refugee enrollment in secondary education is 17 percent, lower than the global average of 23 percent,” Çorabatır said.

The Turkish Education Ministry has recruited 5,600 Turkish language teachers to help Syrian students to improve their Turkish language proficiency. In addition, new and age-appropriate language teaching modules are under development.

A comprehensive psychological support program in schools is being developed and 500 school counselors were recruited to provide psychosocial support to Syrian children and youth.

Despite these great efforts by the government, various factors contribute to the low rates of access to secondary education, according to the İGAM president.

“Refugee youth often work, take care of their younger siblings or perform other household duties. This is both a complicating factor in reaching them to participate in education programs and a reason many are currently unable to, as most education programs are scheduled during working hours and require intense participation,” he said.

Çorabatır has been announced last week as a Gulmakai Champion of the Malala Fund. The Malala Fund is the official organization led by Pakistani Malala Yousafzai and is focused on helping girls go to school and raise their voices for the right to education

With this new title, İGAM will focus on Syrian refugee women’s education in Turkey and to assist in efforts for their education.

“The Malala Fund believes—and we as İGAM share that same belief—that every person can make an impact on our world. We are seeking accountability from politicians and finding ways to improve refugee girls’ access to education in Turkey,” he said.