As the Syrian refugee crisis continues, we are supporting children to start school in Turkey by helping them to understand the local language.
Please support our Syrian refugee crisis appeal Turkey shelters over 2.5 million Syrian refugees and almost half of them are children. Around 85% live in host communities rather than in refugee camps. While most children in refugee camps attend school, only 25% of those in host communities receive an education.
All children registered as Syrian refugees have the right to attend Turkish schools or Temporary Education Centres – however, most only speak Arabic and the language barrier often stands in their way.
In response to this problem, Plan International is supporting a new project in Istanbul run by partner organisation The Mother Child Education Foundation (known locally as ACEV), which prepares children for the start of their school-life in Turkey.
Sixty children have been provided with safe spaces to learn, play, and interact with others. Mothers can also find out about the community recourses and public services. The programme will become a replicable model for supporting Syrian children to attend Turkish schools.
We are learning and playing here at school. I have many friends here
Although lessons are taken in Turkish, each class has a Syrian co-teacher to translate the learning materials and teachers’ instructions.
Children learn numeracy, literacy and about good personal hygiene. They also paint, play games, sing songs and listen to traditional Syrian stories.
Six-year-old Refah, one of the children benefiting from the project, says: “I am learning numbers. I like all games, but my favourites are the ones with Turkish and Arabic singing.”
Zeynep M. Turkmen Sanduvac, Plan International’s Education in Emergencies Specialist in Turkey, says: “War significantly impacts on children’s wellbeing. Add to that a lack of education, and children’s safety is compromised as well. Those out of school are at much higher risk of violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect.
“This project prepares children for school where they will not only have structure and be intellectually stimulated, but also be safe.
“We hope that the benefits and the emphasis placed on helping children retain their Syrian heritage have been encouraging families to enrol their children at school for the coming academic year.”
As part of the programme, each child receives a free meal every day and there is psychosocial support on offer to help those struggling to cope with what they have experienced.
Zeynep Kocaoglu, a psychologist working on the programme, says: “Some children show basic sensory processing problems such as suddenly feeling too hot, too crowded, or too noisy.
“When children experience these complex emotions, it’s important they feel they are in a safe space, so we provide them with an outlet to express their feelings.”
As a result of the project, children are adjusting to their new life in Turkey and are looking forward to the forthcoming school term.
Adnan, 6, says: “We are learning and playing here at school. I have many friends here. I love my teachers.”
Plan International will continue to support children affected by the Syrian refugee crisis including in Egypt where we are providing psychosocial support and helping children back to school.