If a person is sick, they can get treatment and get better. If a child doesn’t go to school, it will create big problems in the future—they will end up on the streets, or go back to Syria to die fighting, or be radicalized into extremists, or die in the ocean trying to reach Europe.
—Shaza Barakat, founder of a Syrian temporary education center in Istanbul and mother to a son who died at age 16 in 2012, when he returned to Syria to fight with opposition forces after finding no educational opportunities in Turkey
Now that I can’t go to school, it’s a tough situation. It’s hard to get used to it. I work occasionally, filling in for my sisters at the factory. When I picture my future, I see nothing.
—Rasha, 16, who was unable to enroll in school when she arrived in Izmir, Turkey, from Qamishli, Syria in August 2013, because she lacked a residency permit. Unable to speak Turkish, she could not join her peers in the 10th grade, and was not allowed to join a lower grade.
Nine-year-old Mohammed has not attended school since 2012, when an armed group took over his school in the Aleppo countryside. His family, which fled to the Turkish seaside city of Mersin in early 2015, now lives in a small, unfurnished apartment and sleeps on the floor.
Mohammed, who would now be in third grade, misses going to school. “I was one of the best in my class, and I really liked learning how to read. But now we don’t even have any books or anything that I can use to study on my own.” He works eleven-hour daily shifts at a garment workshop where he earns 50 Turkish lira (approximately US$18) per week.
This report is the first of a three-part series addressing the urgent issue of access to education for Syrian refugee schoolchildren in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. The series will examine the various barriers preventing Syrian children from accessing education and call on host governments, international donors, and implementing partners to mitigate their impact in order to prevent a lost generation of Syrian children.