Primary and secondary education
All refugees and asylum-seekers have the right to education and may enrol in Turkish schools after they have been issued with a foreigner’s identification number by the Turkish authorities. UNHCR advises you to enrol your child in school as soon as possible. There is no need to wait until your UNHCR registration or refugee status determination procedures are completed.
- All children have the right to education in Turkey.
- Public schools are free of charge.
- You need to be registered with the Turkish authorities before enrolling your child in school.
- Go directly to the Provincial Education Directorate if you wish to enrol your child.
- School is not just about learning – going to school brings many social and emotional benefits for children.
In addition to schooling, refugees and asylum-seekers may also attend courses offered by Public Education Centres (including Turkish language courses). These courses are offered free of charge.
It is important for children to attend school, no matter how long you expect to stay in Turkey! Even if you hope to be resettled to another country or to go back to your country, it is important that you and your family use the time in Turkey to develop the skills that will help your children integrate socially and academically into a new education system. The longer your children are out of school, the more difficult this becomes.
In addition to the educational benefits, attending school will help your children heal from the effects of displacement. Having a regular routine (by going to school or language classes daily) provides children and youth with stability. Attending school also creates a focus on the future, rather than what happened in the past and the situations that led to you and your family seeking assistance in Turkey.
How to enrol your children in school
You will need to enrol your children in schools that are in the city in which you are registered. Approach the Provincial Directorate of the Ministry of National Education to enrol you children in the nearest public school. The only documents you will need are: registration with the Turkish authorities (foreigner’s ID number) and proof of residential address (obtained from mukhtar). The Directorate will determine which school is closest to your home and may administer a short test to decide on the grade into which your child will be placed.
If there is an ASAM or HRDF office in the city in which you live, they can assist you.
Refugees can attend university in Turkey. Students wishing to enrol in Turkish universities should have the following: foreigner’s ID number; proof of having completed Grade 12 of secondary school; the results of the Foreign Students Examination (YOS) administered by the university in which you wish to enrol; and proof of proficiency in the language of instruction.
Information on study programmes and admissions requirements, including for foreign students, is available on university websites.
Please note that students who are refugees and asylum-seekers are considered ‘foreign students’ by universities. Higher tuition fees may apply for foreign students.
Studying online in Turkey
Foreign students can enrol in Anadolu University, Turkey’s online and distance university. Degrees and diplomas awarded by Anadolu University are recognized in Turkey and internationally.
A number of other institutions also offer online programmes (e.g. University of the People, Coursera). Many of these programmes are not recognized as official qualifications in Turkey. These courses are useful in helping refresh knowledge and in helping students prepare for university.
Skills training and vocational education
Foreigners may enrol in vocational schools operated by the Ministry of National Education. Enrolment procedures and requirements are the same as for other schools.
Skills training courses are also offered free of charge by Public Education Centres (Halk Eğitim Merkezi) and are certified by the Ministry of National Education. A valid foreigner’s identification number is required in order to register for these courses.
Turkish language learning
Learning Turkish is a basic survival skill while living in Turkey. Learning Turkish will help make daily life and basic tasks easier (shopping, using public transport), help build friendships with others living in the same area, and help in emergencies (communicating with doctors or police).
Turkish classes are offered by Public Education Centres (Halk Eğitim Merkezi) free of charge. Please approach your local Public Education Centre to register for a class. UNHCR partners can also provide more information on language courses available in your city.
Financial support for education
UNHCR provides education grants to families who are registered with UNHCR. Financial assistance is provided each semester. The provision of assistance is conditional on children being enrolled in school. A valid certificate of enrolment should be included in your application for assistance.
In order to apply for this education grant, you will need: a valid (active) UNHCR case number and proof of your child’s enrolment in a Turkish school (which needs to include the name of the student, the name of the school, the grade in which the child is enrolled, the date of certificate, the signature of the school manager, and the school stamp). Applications for assistance should be sent to UNHCR or handed in at ASAM or HRDF offices.
UNHCR also offers a very limited number of DAFI scholarships for higher education. The scholarship covers tuition costs and living expenses. Application procedures are announced on the UNHCR website and Facebook page, and through partners in July or August.