Turkish language training provided by various institutions and organizations for Syrians under temporary protection in our country continues to be on the agenda of media, academia, education community and non-governmental organizations. The meeting themed “Language Training for Adult Refugees in Turkey” organized last week by Sabancı University - Istanbul Policy Centre (IPC) and Stiftung Mercator Initiative was an important event bringing together experts from the field. “Adult Language Trainings”, implemented jointly by the General Directorate of Lifelong Learning (DG-LLL) of the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which aims to provide Turkish language courses to 52,000 adult Syrians, with funding from the European Union (EU) was also one of the prominent projects in this important event.

A one-day event organized by Sabancı University - Istanbul Policy Centre and Stiftung Mercator Initiative brought together academics, experts, civil society representatives and stakeholders from various national institutions and organizations from the world and Turkey to evaluate language training for adult refugees living in our country. Within the framework of thematic panels, the participants addressed international examples on language training for refugees and current projects and practices. In the event, where experiences and best practices were shared, problems encountered in practice were discussed and solution proposals were generated for the future, “Adult Language Trainings (YTDE)” implemented jointly by UNDP and MoNE also stood out among the “Best Practice” projects.

The meeting started with a presentation by Mercator - IPC researcher Maissam Nimer, including the results of the fieldwork, which evaluated language training for Syrians under temporary protection in Turkey, and continued with the panels by representatives of various institutions and organizations from the world and Turkey. Subjects such as language training for refugees in the world and recent trends, ensuring social adaptation and integration through language training, inclusiveness in training, socio-economic integration, access of Syrian individuals to language training in Turkey, preparation of training and course content, trainee's varying needs and training of trainers who would provide language training to refugees were among the topics discussed. Halil Can Emre, Project Manager of the Turkey Resilience Project in Response to the Syria Crisis (TRP) - Adult Language Training Component, informed the participants about the projects carried out by their institutions as panellists.

Halil Can Emre was among the panellists and delivered a speech on “Overcoming the Language Barrier with Innovative Methods: Blended Language Training”, and emphasized that innovative ideas, innovation, and use of technology improved the lives of both refugees and host communities noting that UNDP put its 50 years of expertise in sustainable development into the service of Turkey.

Emre stated: “People who migrate in situations such as war, natural disaster and humanitarian crisis are trying to establish a new life in a new country. In order to adapt to a new culture, new neighbours, friends, daily life, meeting basic and human needs, and contributing to the society in which they live, language training is very important.”, and continued: “We, as UNDP, together with MoNE, have developed a training system that uses technology and is independent of time and space. This system allows individuals to learn at any time, from anywhere, via smartphone, computer and tablet.”

Emre underlined that the “Blended Training” model developed under the project combined face-to-face education and distance education; and added: “With the innovative method which we have developed under our project, we not only save financially, but also create a permanent interaction between students and teachers using technology. In this way, individuals are able to spend time learning while they continue their daily lives. We are able to use of time, space and resources in the best way.”

Halil Can Emre emphasized that the system developed under the project and made available to the country was an example of a good practice that was rarely seen in the world; and stated that “Developing countries are trying to develop by using limited resources in the most effective and efficient way. Training is one of the most important parameters in countries' development journey. The countries hosting the largest migrant populations in the world are also developing countries. The system we have put forward in the scope of TRP; a pilot project that can be used in the field of education by developing countries and an example that can be used especially in the training of refugees. Under our project, we will help 52,000 Syrians learn Turkish. It is very rare in the world to provide training through a blended teaching to a large population of this scale.”

Under TRP implemented jointly by DG-LLL and UNDP, Turkish language training for the Syrians under temporary protection in Turkey began on 25 March 2019. Through Public Education Centres (PECs) in 10 provinces of Turkey (Adana, Bursa, Gaziantep, Hatay, Istanbul, Izmir, Kilis, Konya, Mersin and Şanlıurfa), 52,000 adult Syrian individuals are expected to benefit from Turkish language training to support their participation in economic, social and cultural life. All financing of the project is provided by the European Union (EU).

According to research, the biggest obstacle to the participation of Syrians under temporary protection in economic, social and cultural life is the language barrier. Syrians residing in Turkey have to learn a new language in order to become self-sufficient, fully participate in economic, social, cultural and social life. Therefore, Turkish language training offers a great opportunity for Syrians to increase their resilience, develop new jobs and livelihoods, contribute to the economy and interact with their neighbours.

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