Turkey provides formal education to 330,000 Syrian children: Education minister
BRUSSELS – Anadolu Agency
AA photoSome 330,000 Syrian children are given formal education at state schools in Turkey, Education Minister Nabi Avcı has said in Brussels, urging European states to “contribute to these efforts.”
Speaking to reporters after attending the 25th Session of the Council of Europe Conference of Education Ministers on April 11, Avcı criticized European politicians for describing their provision of social services to Syrian refugees “as though it is a big accomplishment.”
“They are making a mountain out of a molehill while we fail to explain our own accomplishments,” he said.
“In his speech at the opening of the conference, the Council of Europe Secretary General [Thorbjørn Jagland] said 300,000 refugee children were enrolled in European schools, as though this is a big accomplishment. Yes, this [figure] is correct. But Turkey currently hosts 830,000 schoolaged Syrian children and we provide formal education to 330,000 of them,” Avcı said, adding they aim to enroll a total of 450,000 Syrian children by the end of 2016.
“Instead of bragging about providing education to 300,000 Syrians, European countries and EU member states should learn from what Turkey has been doing and seek ways to provide assistance,” he added, stressing that the outcome will be “disastrous for the entire continent” if refugees’ education is neglected.
The figures provided by Avcı were consistent with a recent statement from Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) head Fuat Oktay at a Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) conference in Washington D.C., where he said only 30 percent of school-age Syrian children in Turkey had access to education.
“We will provide access to education to 450,000 by the end of 2016 and to all 900,000 Syrian children by 2017,” Oktay told the audience, adding that Turkey needs the support of international organizations in order to provide education to all refugee children.
The ministerial conference in Brussels was held under the theme “Securing Democracy Through Education,” and focused on strengthening the culture of democracy, the fight against radicalization leading to terrorism, and ensuring inclusive and equitable education for all.