Education means hope for refugees fleeing war, conflict or natural disasters. Language training is key for building hope, self-reliance and self-sufficiency for individuals who took shelter in a whole new country. According to surveys, around 70 per cent of people who left behind their previous lives and now trying to build a brand-new life in their host countries embrace to call their new countries as home. So how can we make sure that these individuals can build a new life among their new neighbors? How can we overcome differences and break prejudices? If we see refugees as individuals with their own cultural, social, economic stories and richness; how can we make sure that they are indeed a part of society living their lives in dignity and satisfaction, and contributing to their societies as meaningful individuals? Turkey Resilience Project in Response to the Syria Crisis (TRP) has an answer…

After months of preparations, meetings with partners in 10 provinces of Turkey, identifying Public Education Centers (PECs), needs assessments, refurbishing classrooms, developing educational content, training more than 280 master trainers, reaching out Syrians under Temporary Protection, the time has finally come for the debut of the most meaningful mission for ensuring resilience and sustainable development; as it is deeply enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations (UN).    

Turkish language trainings started for adult Syrians under Temporary Protection in Turkey, on March 25th, 2019. Courses are being held within the framework of “Turkey Resilience Project in Response to the Syria Crisis (TRP)”, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), funded by the European Union (EU). Through this large-scale learning movement, it is aimed to provide Turkish language trainings to 52,000 adult Syrians at 53 Public Education Centers in 10 provinces of Turkey. The “Adult Language Training Component” of Turkey Resilience Project in Response to the Syria Crisis (TRP) is being implemented in collaboration with the General Directorate of Lifelong Learning of the Turkish Ministry of National Education (MoNE - GDLL) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Project is fully funded by the European Union (EU), and will cover 10 provinces of Turkey (Adana, Bursa, Gaziantep, Hatay, Istanbul, Izmir, Kilis, Konya, Mersin and Şanlıurfa). Through Public Education Centers (PECs) in these cities, it is aimed to provide quality Turkish language trainings to 52,000 adult Syrians to support their integration into economic, social and cultural life. And help them build their new lives.

Studies show that language is the biggest barrier for Syrians residing in Turkey to participating in economic, social and cultural life, since they need to learn a whole new language to achieve self-sufficiency and fully participate in daily life. Analytical data suggests that it is much easier for children to learn and exercise Turkish language through school enrollment or playing games with their peers. You can see in many places that, children are real translators for their families when interacting with their neighbors. But what about adults, especially women, elderly people who don’t have the opportunity to go out, engage and get involved with daily life?

The Turkish language trainings therefore present a significant opportunity to adult Syrians to build resilience, develop new jobs and livelihoods, contribute to economy and interact with their local neighbors.

The trainings will promote economic integration of Syrians above 18 years residing in Turkey and contribute to their social and cultural cohesion with their host communities as well. In this context, courses have been designed based on the four basic language skills identified in the European Language Portfolio - reading, listening, speaking and writing - in a manner to provide Syrians under Temporary Protection with the language skills they will need in order to support their participation in economic, social and cultural life. It is further aimed that 50 per cent of the trainees will be Syrian women. The objective is thereby to promote the participation of Syrian women in economic and social life, as well.

Four every level, the trainings will be implemented as 3 hours for 3 days in a week for a term of 10 weeks, and deliver A1, A2 and B1 level Turkish language courses to Syrians aged 18 to 57 under Temporary Protection in Turkey. To that end, special training contents have been prepared that are appropriate for the new framework programmes and take varying levels into account.

Under the Project, a “Blended Training” model, combining classroom and online learning programmes and Learning Management System have also been developed and commissioned for the first time in Turkey. The new system combines the content which trainees can remotely access through e-learning and the face-to-face classroom trainings at PECs. Thus, trainees will attend classroom lessons at 53 Centers in 10 provinces, as well as remotely attend the lessons using electronic devices such as computers, smart phones, tablets etc. The new model does not require participants to have constant Internet connection. Learning Management System, together with the Blended Training Model, will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the trainings, facilitate learning and interaction, and transfer recent innovations in the educational world to Turkey to enhance its capacities.

The Turkish language trainings for adults will be delivered by master trainers assigned to PECs in the provinces where the Project is being implemented. Since the inception of the Project on 1 February 2018, a total of 283 master trainers have been trained, of whom 68 per cent are women. Infrastructural and technical support is also being provided to 53 PECs in 10 provinces under the Project. Additionally, a new PEC is being built at Şehitkamil district of Gaziantep.

In its previous projects; UNDP had provided language skills trainings to Syrians. This new Project significantly scales up the efforts through a blended learning approach consisting of classroom and online learning; setting a first of its kind in Turkey. The new Project will promote the access of women and youth to labor markets and contribute to socio-economic empowerment of individuals and communities.

Through a resilience-based, local and sustainable development perspective, the Project proposes long-term, comprehensive structural solutions to the problems arising due to the Syrian crisis. Centered on economic integration, social cohesion, local capacity enhancement and regional development, Turkey Resilience Project in Response to the Syria Crisis (TRP) combines UNDP’s 50 years of expertise in sustainable development and EU’s financial support.

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