Turkey is home to nearly 3 million refugees and the most child refugees anywhere in the world (nearly 1.2 million), a majority of which are Syrian. Of these 1.5 million, 900.000 are estimated to be school-age and many have either never enrolled in school or have missed four or more years. The population living in urban settings (outside of camps) is estimated to be 80-90%. Of the 37% of school-age Syrian children who are enrolled in formal education programs, most of them (85%) are children living in 22 camps in Turkey. As such, a majority of the children live outside of camps and are not in any form of school. Formal education programs come in two main forms: public schools (currently overall 24% enrollment) and Temporary Education Centers (TEC- providing Arabic education according to the Syrian curricula by Syrian teachers). Hundreds of TECs were initially opened by the Ministry of Education (MoNE) but quickly proved to be difficult to manage in terms of capacity; now most are shut down and no new TECs are opening. The MoNE is now working on a more integrative approach, yet progress is slow and the task is daunting: schools are not ready and able to accept and serve this population (curriculum, dealing with missed years, teachers with language and skills to serve traumatized children etc.). As such, many school-age children still have no educational access. Syrian students that do make it into the public school system face challenges due to these problems and completion rates of education at all levels are very low. This topic is at the top of the international donor agenda as improving access to education is critical to protect children from becoming what is increasingly known as the ‘lost’ generation. It is crucial for social cohesion, self-esteem and resilience. In addition, schooling reduces the rate of families’ resorting to negative coping mechanisms such as early marriages and child labor. As such, NGO’s response to this problem is essential in complementing MoNE’s goal of public school enrollment and attendance, as they work to deliver programs to prepare and transition children to formal education.
YUVA (which means ”nest” or “home”), founded in 2010, believes that sustainable and meaningful lives result from reducing poverty and promoting democratization. They develop and deliver adult/youth/child learning programs in a participatory method and apply a holistic approach to well- being. Given the current situation in Turkey, one of the main pillars of YUVA’s work is the Syrian Refugees Program, providing mainly non-formal learning (skill building for income generation), psychosocial support, educational support (including language training) and other social learning activities. They have been working mainly in two cities, Kırıkhan and Nizip with international partners-mainly GIZ (German Development Agency) and UNHCR. YUVA has also been running cash for work projects in these cities as well as in Mersin and İstanbul since the last quarter of 2016, providing temporary job opportunities to more than 600 vulnerable locals and Syrian refugees. In addition, YUVA established two Vocational Training Centers –in Nizip (with GIZ) and in Konya (middle Anatolia, with UNHCR) to provide vocational, technical and transferable skills training including Turkish language and entrepreneurship. Each YUVA center has a “Child Friendly Space” with psychosocial and non-formal thematic training including sport, arts, music, drama clubs and recreational activities. YUVA also provides academic catch up programs, language classes (Turkish, Arabic and English) and provides in kind education support to improve access to formal education for Syrian children and youth. YUVA’s education program focuses on school age children to ensure enrolment and support through remedial programs designed in line with national curricula.
Since November 2016, YUVA (with significant support from IMC-UNHCR) extended its work to İstanbul, the most densely populated city in terms of Syrian refugees under temporary protection- estimated to be 400,000 according to a report by Support to Life Association. The Ümraniye district (total population 890,000, Syrian population 12,950) is on the Asian side of the city. The local Directorate of National Education estimates 4.602 school-aged Syrian children (between ages 6 to 18) half of which are out-of-school. YUVA will transfer considerable expertise working in Southeastern Turkey to İstanbul where Syrian children and youth need special attention.
EMpower’s 1st grant to YUVA will support the delivery of a program for 400 Syrian children and local vulnerable children (10-14 age group) to improve access to education, and promote wellbeing and livelihoods.
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