Turkish Red Crescent addresses Syrians' problems in education, social life

Syrian children play with Red Crescent officers in community center, in Adana, March 18, 2019.

The Turkish Red Crescent has been providing various services aimed at addressing the needs of Syrian refugee families and resolving the problems they face in their daily lives. Considering the high number of Syrian refugees in the southern province of Adana, the Red Crescent's community center in Adana plays a particularly pivotal role in giving support to the refugees for social cohesion. The center has child and youth friendly places where young refugees participate in social and educational activities.

Kubilay Karagöktaş, an officer at the protection department of the Red Crescent Adana Community Center said that "as the people hear about the services provided in the center, the number of refugees visiting the center is increasing day by day. In a day nearly 75 people visit the center."

Highlighting that various services have been provided in the center, Karagöktaş underlined that "we also support the families as part of the livelihood program, giving language and labor courses."

In order to support the integration of the refugee children into the education system, the officers aim to resolve the problems students face at schools.

Giving an example of the cases they solved, Karagöktaş said that a Syrian child, Şaban, was having problems at the school because his peers were making fun of his name.

"The name Şaban is considered funny in Turkey because of a famous comedy film. When the student came to us, our psychologist talked with him and his family as well as the children at the school," Karagöktaş said.

The Red Crescent also takes part in the implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer for Education (CCTE) program, which encourages enrollment and school attendance. The CCTE program is for Syrians and other refugees. The program has been implemented by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services since 2003 and was extended to Syrian and other refugee families in mid-2017. The extension is implemented through close cooperation between the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services, the Ministry of National Education, the Turkish Red Crescent and UNICEF as well with the support of the European Union. Accordingly, families receive cash support every two months through Red Crescent Cards on the condition that the child attends school regularly, which means at least 80 percent attendance.

With 16 Child Protection Outreach Teams including one case manager, three case workers and three interpreters in 15 Provinces with the highest number of refugees, the Red Crescent contributes to the sustainability of the program.

As part of the child protection component, the Red Crescent's outreach teams visit families whose children miss school for more than four days. Following the visits, the teams evaluate the situation and if there is a high risk for the children regarding the living environments or other problems they refer the case to the Ministry of Family Labor and Social Services.

Thanks to this initiative, case workers are able to identify the reasons for non-attendance and refer the child to related services.

Parents are also encouraged to benefit from the services provided for children such as psychological support and community center activities.

Referring to the activities of the Red Crescent, 25-year-old Damla Çalık, a Red Crescent worker, said that "the child protection component is an essential part of the CCTE program which has yielded significant results. The teams visit families every day and listen to their problems by directly communicating with them."

Reasons why children miss school and non-attendance vary and might be child labor, economic hardship, health problems, peer bullying and so forth.

From June 2017 to February 2019, some 59,005 children were screened by outreach teams. A total of 5,393 children were referred to special services. Between those dates, 10,961 children were screened in Istanbul.

In Adana, from June 2017 to February 2019, 3,784 children were screened. Evaluations indicated that 35 children were considered to belong to the high-risk group and necessary steps were taken accordingly.

Aside from the CCTE program, the Turkish Red Crescent Society is participating in the implementation of Non-Formal Education (NFE) activities to prevent a lost generation of Syrian children along with UNICEF, the Ministry of National Education, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the EU. The NFE program aims to provide out-of-school refugee children with access to learning opportunities. It was designed for children who are out of school or need extra educational support.

The program aims to reach more than 65,000 refugee children and adolescents with non-formal educational opportunities, including 35,000 children who will benefit from Basic Literacy and Numeracy (BLN) classes and Turkish language courses. The language courses are being implemented in 83 youth centers covering 24 provinces.

Özgenur Sevinç / Daily Sabah

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