UNHCR Education Project, Turkey
With its position on the crossroads between Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, Turkey receives significant numbers of refugees each year.
In February 2012 there were 8,367 refugee children under the age of 18 of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the country, and education is seen as vital to protecting and enhancing the future prospects of this vulnerable group. However, attending school is not compulsory for refugees staying in Turkey, therefore enrolment and attendance rates are very low.
Further barriers to refugee children entering education include the need for a foreign identity number, and therefore a residence permit; and with many families seeing their situation as very short-term, they see little reason in applying for residence.
Supported by a €100,000 donation from the Lebara Foundation, the UNHCR in Turkey has introduced a programme of counselling and advocacy activities to provide support, including assistance in learning and vocational training. It has also been able to provide financial support to get young refugees into education, and to promote to parents the educational assistance available to them.
It remains early days, but the amount of educational assistance offered to these communities has increased by almost 15% between 2010 and 2011, benefitting many thousands of 5-17 year old refugees and asylum-seekers in 50 cities.