War-Induced Immigration and Education: Syrian Refugees' Education in Turkey

War-Induced Immigration and Education: Syrian Refugees' Education in Turkey

Binali Tunç (Mersin University, Turkey) and Çiğdem Zeynep Can (Mersin University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3325-2.ch008
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This study aims to make clear the matter at hand that of the educational status of the Syrian refugees in Turkey. Turkey has become one of the countries that felt the impact of the war in Syria the most. In a very short period of time 1.5 million students have been added to the current 20 million students. The interviews were conducted by researchers using a semi structured form concurrent with the qualitative research pattern. The interviewees were asked questions under three main headings: Interviewees' educational background, current educational process in Turkey, and their plans about the future, their criticisms and suggestions. One of the significant points made in the study is the inadequacy to provide all citizens with educational opportunities equally. The most common struggle refugees' face is communication due to the “language barrier”. The most important reason behind Syrians having poor attendance is the uncertainty in their lives and economic struggles.
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Immigration which can simply be described as the moving of groups or individuals has influenced the course of history negatively and positively. Immigration is the moving of individuals or groups from one country to another or from one place of settlement to another due to economic, social or political reasons (TDK, 2016). Such movements of immigration throughout history have become subjects of a variety of disciplines. This study focuses on the educational activities designed for the Syrian citizens who had to seek refuge in Turkey due to the current unrest in Syria.

The Civil war that started in 2011 in Syria meant that millions of Syrians had to seek refuge in neighboring countries. Turkey has become the country that has experienced this war forced immigration the most. It can easily be said that initially these refugees were not taken seriously based on the prediction that the civil unrest in Syria wouldn’t last long. However, the prolonged war and the fading hopes of the war ending in the near future has made it imperative to re-consider the condition of the Syrian refugees from a different perspective. The refugees who were once considered as guests are now becoming a permanent part of the society. Syrians being allowed to work legally and preparations for permanent citizenship are indicators of the prediction that even after the civil war a good portion of the Syrian refugees would stay in Turkey. As the war continues and without viable options of returning to Syria the refugees reinforce their plans of permanent stay in Turkey.

While the initial services provided for the refugees covered immediate requirements such as security, food, shelter and health, in time these services started to transform into economic, cultural, educational and political services. This study is limited to the educational condition and requirements of refugees living outside refugee camps.

The varieties regarding the ages, genders, social and cultural statuses and educational backgrounds make each individual’s education different as well. In the study, individuals from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds and different ages were interviewed in order to gather data regarding their educational lives back in Syria, their current educational status and their expectations for the future. The deductions made at this stage may not adequately reveal the status of the Syrian refugees, but would most certainly help to increase the number of such studies in other cities and different study groups.

It is quite important to provide refugees with educational services both because education is a right and it contributes to minimizing the negative effects of vast numbers of refugees in the social structure in Turkey. Meeting the educational requirements of vast numbers of refugees that may deeply influence the demographic structure of many metropolitan cities shall ease the process of adaptation to the current social texture.

Terminologies such as “refugee, immigrant and asylum seeker” are being used to classify these people regarding social, legal and political aspects. However, in this study, the legal and political statuses of these individuals are disregarded based on the principle that education is a human right. No matter what the status described in both national and international legal texts the right to education is a closed discussion and there is no doubt that this encumbers many responsibilities of the Turkish Republic. This is why this study avoids conceptual and legal arguments.

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