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Understanding Syrian parents’ perspectives and experiences of their children’s primary schooling in Turkey

PhD ceremony:D. Karaagac, LLM
When:May 06, 2024
Supervisor:prof. dr. D.R. (René) Veenstra
Co-supervisor:B. (Ba┼čak) Bilecen, Dr
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Understanding Syrian parents’ perspectives and experiences of
their children’s primary schooling in Turkey

Turkey, hosting the largest number of refugees in the world, is home to approximately one million school-age Syrian children, who are at risk of becoming a lost generation. Syrian refugees have been living under temporary protection status since 2014, creating a state of permanent temporariness. This dissertation aims to understand the perspectives and experiences of Syrian parents regarding their children’s primary education, which is not compulsory for Syrian children. This understanding allows policymakers to implement targeted strategies addressing challenges and promoting increased enrollment and academic success among Syrian children.This research is based on a literature review including legal regulations as well as 20 semi-structured interviews with Syrian parents in Istanbul, home to half a million Syrian refugees. The results highlight three key insights: 1) Uncertainties significantly influence parental decisions about education, posing challenges for children’s language acquisition and leading to significant educational and social consequences. 2) Syrian parents express a strong desire to engage in their children’s education, especially in the home environment. However, they face many challenges and lack the necessary skills and resources. 3) Syrian children encounter peer discrimination and ethnic bullying, with teachers playing a crucial role in increasing their willingness to attend school.Highlighting the need for durable solutions, the findings suggest implementing compulsory schooling for all children in Turkey and Turkish language programs tailored for Syrian children prior to primary school. It also recommends policies aimed at strengthening parent-teacher relationships to increase academic success, peer relationships, and a sense of belonging among refugee children.