Primary and secondary education
According to Turkish national law, all children in Turkey, including foreigners (and international protection applicants, refugees and those under temporary protection) have the right to receive primary and secondary school education free of charge.
The Temporary Protection Regulation (22 October 2014) makes provisions for a wide range of educational services to be delivered to those under temporary protection, including early childhood education, schooling (Grades 1-12), higher education and non-formal education programmes
The Ministry of National Education (MoNE) is responsible for ensuring and managing refugees’ access to early childhood education, schools (and Temporary Education Centres) and non-formal education programmes (including Turkish language classes and skills development courses offered by Public Education Centres).
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.
Schools and Temporary Education Centres (TECs) in Turkey
Syrian children can either enrol in Turkish schools or in Temporary Education Centres (TECs). TECs are also sometimes informally referred to as ‘Syrian schools’. The Ministry of National Education has indicated that they would like all Syrian children to be enrolled in Turkish schools within the next three years.
From September 2016 all Syrian children entering kindergarten (KG) or Grade 1 have to be enrolled in Turkish schools, and not in Temporary Education Centres. The Ministry also encouraged children entering Grades 5 and 9 to enrol in Turkish schools. In 2017, this policy will be applied in all provinces.
In Temporary Education Centres, the curriculum is based on the Syrian curriculum and lessons are taught in Arabic by Syrian volunteer teachers. The curriculum includes Turkish lessons. All recognized TECs are under the coordination and oversight of the Turkish Ministry of National Education.
How to enrol your children in a Turkish school or in a Temporary Education Centre
Enrolment in Turkish schools
Parents should approach the Provincial Education Directorate (PED) in order to request that their child be enrolled in a Turkish school.
The following documents are required to enrol in a Turkish school:
- Foreigner’s identification number (99 number)
- Registration on the MERNIS (Nufus) database system – residential address information
If you have any records of your child’s previous educational history, these should also be taken to the Provincial Education Directorate. The Provincial Education Directorate will decide (i) the grade into which the child will be placed, based on his/her previous educational history and abilities, as well as his/her age and (ii) the school where the child will be enrolled.
If you do not have any information on your child’s previous educational history (or if they are enrolling in school for the first time), education officials may conduct a short interview or written test to help decide the grade into which your child will be enrolled.
If you have any records of your current residential address, it may be useful to provide this information to ensure placement to the nearest school with available space. The document showing your residence address can be obtained from the mukhtar free of charge.
It is not necessary for a child to be able to speak Turkish before enrolling in a school. Children cannot be denied access to school if they are unable to speak Turkish.
Children can also attend Turkish courses offered by Public Education Centres to improve their language skills, either prior to school enrolment or while attending school.
Enrolment in TECs
Procedures for enrolment in TECs may be less standardized than procedures for enrolment in Turkish schools. It is advisable to contact the Provincial Education Directorate in order to find out what procedures should be followed in the city in which you live.
Financial support for education (Kindergarten to Grade 12)
The Ministry of Family and Social Policies (MoFSP), the Ministry of National Education (MoNE), Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are implementing a nationwide social assistance program called the ‘Conditional Cash Transfer for Education’ (CCTE) for Refugees. This is an extension of the national CCTE programme implemented by MoFSP since 2003 for Turkish citizens as well as foreigners residing in Turkey. All refugees who are residing in off-camp settings, regardless of nationality, can benefit from this assistance (if they meet the eligibility criteria). The CCTE provides cash payments to eligible families conditional on regular school attendance of their children (from kindergarten to Grade 12).
Applicants for the CCTE must be registered with the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) and have a foreigner’s ID number beginning with the number 99, and be registered in the MERNIS database. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for the CCTE programme and send their children to school regularly in order to receive CCTE payments regularly.
Both students enrolled in Temporary Education Centres (TECs) and Turkish public schools can receive financial support through the CCTE.
More information on CCTE for refugees (including application procedures and eligibility criteria) is available in the CCTE brochure.
Syrian youth may apply to attend Turkish universities, provided that they satisfy language and academic entry requirements. The Council of Ministers announced that tuition fees for Syrian students have been waived for the 2016/2017 academic year for state universities (not private universities). Students will still need to cover the costs of local transportation, books and living expenses.
Syrian high school graduates wishing to enrol in a Turkish university should ensure that they have the following:
- Foreigner’s identification number issued by DGMM (99 number);
- Proof of having completed Grade 12;
- Results of the Foreign Students Examination (YOS) administered by the university in which you wish to enrol;
- Proof that you are proficient in the language of instruction of the course in which you will enrol.
Students who started their university studies in Syria, but were not able to complete them, may ask universities to recognize the credits (courses) that they have passed. The decision whether to recognize courses passed in Syria is made by each university and may differ from one department to another.
Financial support for higher education
There are a number of organizations providing scholarships to Syrian students for higher education study in Turkey. These organizations include: YTB (the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities), UNHCR – through the DAFI scholarship programme, and NGOs (e.g. SPARK).
Scholarships awarded through YTB, HOPES and DAFI cover the costs of tuition and pay students a monthly allowance for accommodation and living expenses.
Scholarship applications information is announced annually through organizations’ websites and social media pages.
Studying online in Turkey
Syrian 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
Syrians 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.