Promoting integration of Syrian kids into the Turkish education system (PIKTES)
Submitted by: Zeynep Tuğrul, Communication and Public Relations Officer of Project on Promoting Integration of Syrian Kids into the Turkish Education System (PIKTES), Ministry of National Education of the Republic of Turkey
Introduction to the project
Phase I : October 2016 – July 2019 (32 months)
Phase II : December 2018 – December 2021 (36 months)
PIKTES (Project on Promoting Integration of Syrian Kids into the Turkish Education System) is a European Union funded project implemented by the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) of the Republic of Turkey. In addition to specific objective of supporting MoNE in its efforts to increase integration of Syrian children and their access to quality education, the project has an overall objective of increasing the enrollment and attendance rates of Syrian children and youth in quality formal education.
PIKTES, implemented in 26 provinces of Turkey determined according to numbers of school aged and schooled Syrian children, stands out as a good practice of comprehensive education for Syrian students. It met basic education needs of Syrian students from primary to the high school level in the first implementation period. The scope of the project was extended to cover early childhood education and social cohesion in order to provide all encompassing opportunities in the light of MoNE vision for providing inclusive and comprehensive education opportunities for Syrian children.
As of September 2020, Turkey hosts 3,618,918 Syrians according to Ministry of Interior, DG Migration Management data and 1,213,819 of whom are school aged children (5-17)
PIKTES aims to provide Turkish language training to 400,000 Syrian children. For that purpose, MoNE, under the scope of PIKTES, has established “Adaptation Classes” for the displaced children. With Adaptation Classes, it is aimed to increase the Turkish Language proficiency required for foreign students to follow academic courses in public schools and to enable them communicate with their peers. Syrian students take the “Turkish Language Proficiency Exam”& in order to be placed in adaptation classes according to their exam results. Paving the way for better language training to increase academic standing of children, adaptation classes are an important part of the good practice. They strengthen social cohesion and increase academic standing.
Main activities of the Good Practice
- Turkish language courses for Syrian children
- Arabic language courses for Syrian children
- Early childhood education for socio-economically disadvantaged Syrian and Turkish children
- Catch-up training for Syrian children out of school
- Back-up training for Syrian students in public schools
- School transportation for socio-economically disadvantaged Syrian and Turkish students
- Stationery for socio-economically disadvantaged Syrian and Turkish students
- Scholarships for Syrian and Turkish students attending TVET Institutions
- Development or revision of Turkish curriculum for Syrian children
- Revision, development and procurement of educational materials
- Developing and implementing an examination system to determine the Syrian students’ language proficiency and academic performance level
- School guidance and psychosocial support for Syrian students
- Project related research activities
- Coordination meetings with stakeholders
- Monitoring and evaluation
- Training of trainers and teachers
- Awareness raising trainings for MoNE administrative staff
- Providing secure and hygienic learning environment in schools
- Provision of educational equipment to lessen the burden of additional students
- Social cohesion activities for Syrian and Turkish students
- Social cohesion activities for Syrian and Turkish parents
- Informing Syrian families about educational services/opportunities
- Awareness raising activities to promote integration of Syrian children into the Turkish education system
- Coordination Meetings with Stakeholders
- Security Service in schools
- Cleaning Service in schools
- Organizing international conference
How challenges were overcome
- Difficulties have been faced in future planning as a result of continuously changing data due to dynamic population movement. Education services are planned and carried out in line with the number of age population. Periodical and effective communication has been established with the Directorate General of Migration Management of the Ministry of Interior.
- Syrian families do not send their male children to school because of their necessity to work due to socio-economic reasons. Family visits and informative seminars were carried out in order to enable families to send their children to school. 2 types of scholarships (“Back to School” and “School Attendance”) are provided by PIKTES to the students of “Vocational and Technical Anatolian High Schools” and “Vocational Education Centers”.
- Syrian girls being forced into early marriage and the reluctance of their families to send girls to school, resulting in a lower schooling rate in female students. Family visits and awareness-raising meetings were organized.
- In order to overcome the difficulties of schooling children who have been out of school for a long time, information and awareness-raising activities about education opportunities were provided to families and the continuation of catch-up trainings is tried to be ensured.
- Turkish language trainers worked in the scope of the project do not have sufficient knowledge and experience on teaching Turkish to foreigners. In-service and orientation trainings in cooperation with universities were provided to PIKTES trainers on language training for foreigners.
- To carry out sufficiently effective monitoring activities, field visits were realized and project monitoring web portal was established.
- Awareness of MoNE administrative staff and teachers were in need of awareness raising about SuTP children. Through administrative and teacher awareness raising activities, their capacity to handle Syrian student issues was increased.
- During the first implementation period, it was observed that providing various supports and assistance programs for only Syrian children brought about certain level of tension in the host community. In order to ease the pressure and the tension on the host community, socio-economically disadvantaged Turkish children are also included in the scope of the project as of the second implementation period.
How challenges were overcome during COVID-19
- Due to the one of the main precautionary measures taken by the Government of Turkey, schools were closed temporarily as of March 16, 2020 and distance education program was started on March 23, 2020. Distance Education Videos of “Turkish for Adaptation” lessons for foreign students in “Adaptation Classes (Adaptation Classes are one of the main implementations of PIKTES Project, aimed to increase the Turkish Language proficiency required for foreign students to follow academic courses in public schools and to enable them communicate with their peers) were prepared as an emergency response to Covid-19 pandemic process. Considering the experience of working with Syrian children since 2016, the content of these videos have been prepared by PIKTES contracted teachers as well as the presentations. These videos are broadcasted on TRT-EBA TV (TV channels which are broadcasted on Turkey's national TV channel TRT, where students can follow their classes in accordance with their curriculum without need of internet connection) as of March 30, 2020 and also streamed at YouTube channel of PIKTES for reaching a wider audience. All the lessons in the curriculum of Turkish public schools are currently broadcasted on TRT - EBA TV so as to help students follow and review their classes.Related information is shared on PIKTES official website and also on social media accounts regularly. In addition, the catch-up trainings are held for the period of 31 August – 18 September 2020 through distance education model.
- As of June 2020, “Online Classes” are implemented via EBA applications for students studying Turkish at “Adaptation Classes” in primary, secondary and high schools. “Turkish for Adaptation” teachers are regularly trained online for these online classes and students are informed regarding this new implementation. PIKTES teachers were provided with information regarding the available free online Turkish teaching portals, so that they can inform their students through regular phone calls, SMSs and whatsapp messages.
- Thanks to EBA (Education Information Network “EBA” is an online social education platform, created by MoNE, utilized by teachers, students and parents) and TRT EBA TV ;(TV channels which are broadcasted on Turkey's national TV channel TRT, where students can follow their classes in accordance to their curriculum without need of internet connection) and EBA applications, foreign students studying in primary, secondary and high schools are able to reach all online curriculum in the distance education system during this process. They are able to benefit from the online classes and different lesson contexts in accordance with the MoNE curriculum. In this context, foreign students are also able to follow their classes equally like their Turkish peers. Students can also repeat the classes that they have been attending as back-up courses without any time limitations as all the course videos are available on EBA website and PIKTES youtube channel. At back-up classes the MoNE curriculum are followed by MoNE teachers to support foreign students.
- “Turkish for Foreign Students” lesson videos are prepared for the 2020-2021 academic year at primary, secondary and high school levels.
- The lesson presentations (120+163 pieces) prepared within the scope of distance education activities are published on the PIKTES website for PIKTES teachers to use in& live lesson applications.
- Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Turkish Language Training activity was carried out on the EBA Live Course application.
- All lesson videos are uploaded to PIKTES youtube channel right after the broadcast on EBA TV so that students can have access the lesson videos anytime they want or reach them in case they have missed. Lesson videos for Arabic teaching are shared on the same platform as well.
- The framework annual plans, presentations prepared for teachers to use in EBA live lesson activites and links for all PIKTES materials are updated and published on the PIKTES web site for the usage for teachers and students.
- During Covid-19 period, maintaining the access to regular lessons is an important objective of PIKTES. Until today, educational opportunities, mediums and tools from which students and parents can benefit have been shared through the website and social media accounts of the project regularly.
- Turkish teachers, Arabic teachers and guidance counselors employed as part of PIKTES have been continuously communicating with their students and their families via internet and telephones, informing them about distance education opportunities. PIKTES teachers also conduct a survey to learn educational and general needs of their students. PIKTES Guidance Counselors provide psychosocial support as well as academic and personal guidance to foreign students. Moreover, Guidance Counselors provide guidance to the foreign parents to support academic, personal and social development of foreign students.
- 125.000 brochures are printed and distributed in order to inform families and students about distance education opportunities, "Turkish for Adaptation" classes, TRT-EBA TV, online course schedule, etc. Due to the attack rate of Covid-19 and restriction of social contact, the brochures are distributed to Syrian families in coordination with MoNE, Türk Kızılayı and UNICEF.
Results of the Good Practice in 2020
- Number of Syrian students with access to education in Turkey has increased. 750,350 Syrian children were schooled during 2020-2021 Academic Year, which is equal to 61,81% of number of total schooling. (Number of the previous years are follows: 2016-2017 Academic Year: 201.505; 2017-2018 Academic Year: 387.849; 2018-2019 Academic Year: 552.546; 2019-2020 Academic Year: 659.450)
- 386,530 students received Turkish Language Training. (Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Turkish Language Training activity was carried out on the EBA Live Course application.)
- 43,672 students are identified to be included to the “Adaptation Classes” through the “Evaluation Forms” carried out by the commissions established in the schools to evaluate the Turkish level of foreign students. 68,792 students participated in the evaluation process.
- 19,385 students completed the “Catch-Up” trainings.
- 260 students benefited the “Transportation Service” during “Catch Up” trainings.
- 18,836 students completed the “Back-Up” trainings between October 2019 – March 2020.
- 4,964 students (8th and 12th grade level) continue the “Back-Up” trainings as of October 2020: 4,964
- 820 students benefited the “Transportation Service” during “Back-Up” trainings.
- Qualitative and Quantitave Impact Analysis of Early Childhood Education, which was implemented in the Summer of 2019, were conducted. According to the results of the Impact Analyses, the Early Childhood Education Programme has been revised.
- 3.888 teachers participated in Online Education on the topics of “Material preparation in Distant Turkish Language Education”, “Supporting the Children’s Psychologicak Well-Being During the Pandemic”, “Classroom Management in Live Lessons”, “Communication with Families and Children in Distance Education Process”, “Crisis and Crisis Intervention Training”, “Turkish Language Teaching with Distance Play and Drama”, “Supporting Psychological Resilience in Children”, “Online Psychological Counselling” and “Normalisation and Returning to School During Pandamic”
- 11.425 children awarded for Technical and Vocational Education Training scholarships. (6,855 Syrian students and 4,570 Turkish students)
- 120 videos prepared within the scope of distance education are made available on the PIKTES Project web site.
- 101.148 students from 26 PIKTES Project Provinces took Turkish Language Exam (TLE) which was prepared by PIKTES and conducted in all provinces of Turkey in order to identify students who need to study in “Adaptation Classes” and students who can complete their study in Adaptation Classes and continue to the formal education. “Framework Annual Plan” was prepared to be used in the Adaptation Classes in the 2019-2020 Academic year.
- “Teaching Turkish as a Foreign Language Programme” was developed. “Turkish, Mathematics, Life Sciences Annual Framework Plans” were prepared to be used in the Adaptation Classes opened in the 2020-2021 Academic Year.
- 37,250 sets of “Teacher’s Handbook Set with Activity Content” were printed and delivered to the Project Provinces to be distributed to the teachers who attend the Adaptation Classes or have foreign students in their class.
- 6,410 copies of the “Early Childhood Education Calendar” were printed in Turkish and Arabic to be distributed to Syrian families with pre-school age children; and delivered to the project provinces.
- “Language Learning Portal” has been opened in EBA, the digital platform of the Ministry of National Education. In the portal, Arabic and other language options beside Turkish were added, this, creating a platform that is easily accessible for foreigners in Turkey.
- Initiatives continue to make the education (live or distant) materials produced within the scope of the project interactive, to develop/supply Turkish Digital Material, and to write or supply short novels/stories written in differet language levels of Turkish.
- An online survey was conducted to the PIKTES contracted teachers regarding their activities with their students during the temporary closure of schools. In brief, the Survey results show that; the majority (%72) of teachers and guidance counselors try to get in touch with their students nearly every day. The main medium (%72) of communication is Whatsapp application used in mobile phones, along with social media (%11) and phone calls (%7). The main topics addressed (ranking order) during the communication are how to follow up studies, how to spend quality time at home, how to maintain physical wellbeing, how to maintain mental well-being and interaction with family members. Regarding the academic development of students, teachers and guidance counselors inform students about how to use educational materials they have, ask questions about distance education subjects, provide educational assignments and evaluate them, communicate with parents to follow up academic development.
- The results show that teachers and guidance counselors are in contact with their students and continue supporting them while the schools are closed. They try to provide guidance regarding the academic, mental, personal and social development of the students which is vital during this extraordinary period.
- 300,000 brochures in Arabic and Turkish, introducing our project and emphasizing the importance of education, were prepared and distributed during the household visits organized by PIKTES Project Management Team and PIKTES teachers.
- 125 thousand Arabic brochures were prepared and distributed to the Project provinces in order to ensure that “Turkish for Adaptation” lessons reach the target audience.
- 145 thousand Arabic brochures and 7,125 Arabic and Turkish posters were prepared to raise awareness about the distance education model initiated within the scope of the 2020-2021 academic year, to reach children and families in the project target audience and to inform the target audience about online education opportunities.
- 15,000 brochures and 2,680 posters are published in Turkish and Arabic and distributed to the schools, health centers and mosques etc. which gives information about scholarships to be given to the students of “Vocational and Technical Anatolian High Schools”, “Vocational Education Centers”.
As of September 2020:
- Approximately 100,000 students attended adaptation classes in 26 Project provinces until 16 March 2020. The current implementation for 2020-2021 academic year is ongoing via online classes due to the closure of schools.
- 669.630 Syrian students enrolled in public schools and Temporary Education Centres (TECs)as of September 2020.
- Overall 404,530 Syrian children have been provided with Turkish language courses including adaptation classes and summer language courses.
- 4,090 Syrian children have been provided with Arabic language courses including summer course held in 2019, only by PIKTES. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic outbreak, “Arabic Classes” are provided by MoNE through EBA-TV and www.eba.gov.tr as in Turkish language training. All Syrian and other immigrant students can follow and repeat the classes according to their Arabic level without any time limitations.
- 19,110 Syrian and 18,043 Turkish children (Total: 37,153) benefitted from Early Childhood Education (ECE) Programme implemented in 2019. With the start of the 2019-2020 academic year, a total of 58,376 Syrian and Turkish children were provided with ECE programme. As of April 2020, a total of 95,529 Syrian and Turkish children received ECE including summer period. (49,763 Syrian and 45,766 Turkish children) (Even though PIKTES Project had expected to reach 25,000 children only for its 2020 summer ECE Programme, all the summer classes were suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak until further notice. With the inclusion of 2021 Summer Period, it is expected to provide 70,000 Syrian and 70,000 Turkish children with ECE during whole PIKTES Project.)
- 19,372 Syrian children received catch-up training including summer period and academic year.
- 18,836 students participated in back-up classes . 2,301 teachers and 894 administrative staff were assigned in back-up training before the closure of schools due to Covid-19 outbreak.
- 65,554 children were provided with transportation service . A total of 150,000 Syrian and Turkish children are aimed to be provided with transportation service.
- 45,196 Syrian and 41,702 Turkish children (Total: 86,898) benefitted from stationery supplies in scope of ECE programme including summer and academic year.
- 6,020 Syrian families were visited with the local authorities and PIKTES guidance counsellors during the semester break of 2020. The families were informed especially about ECE, adaptation classes and TVET scholarships and other educational services/opportunities. It is targeted to visit a total of 3,120 Syrian families in 26 provinces.
- 300,000 brochures (150,000 Turkish and 150,000 Arabic) were distributed to the families during the household visits by Provincial Coordination Teams of PIKTES, guidance counsellors and PIKTES teachers to inform Syrian families about educational services/opportunities such as ECE, TVET, etc.
- Another 125.000 brochures in Arabic are printed and distributed in order to inform families and students about distance education opportunities, "Turkish for Adaptation" classes, TRT-EBA TV, online course schedule, etc. during the COVID-19 period. Due to the attack rate of Covid-19 and restriction of social contact, the brochures were distributed to Syrian families in coordination with MoNE, Türk Kızılayı and UNICEF.
- 92,982 Turkish language educational materials were distributed to 26 Project provinces.
- 5,760 Arabic language educational materials were distributed to 26 Project provinces.
- 1.439 cleaning staff and 383 security staff have been working in scope of PIKTES.
- 2,283 schools were provided with educational equipment and materials in scope of ECE programme.
- 2 impact analyses for ECE Summer Program have been conducted.
- 19 thematic workshops (about social cohesion activities, examination system, catch-up and back-up training, ECE activities and material development) and 55 technical expert meetings (with different DGs of MoNE, related branches of other ministries, international organisations and institutions) in 2019 and 2020 were held as of April 2020. (Due to the attack rate of Covid-19 and restriction of social contact, various precautionary measures have been taken by the Government of Turkey including the postponements of meetings in general which caused a decrease in the number of PCT meetings and as so in Steering Committee Meetings. The further planning of meetings will be made according to the precautions taken/to be taken by MoNE and the Government of Turkey. On the other hand, online meetings on Skype, Zoom etc. continue to maintain coordination and use this period efficiently for further planning of project activities.)
- 1,157 MoNE pre-school teachers received in-service teachers’ training as of April 2020.
- 819 pre-school administrative staff received awareness raising training as of April 2020.
- 23 schools in 4 provinces were visited as of April 2020. (Due to the closure of schools and also travel restriction to other provinces, monitoring activities in provinces which are carried out by PIKTES Provincial Coordination Teams and Project Monitoring Unit are suspended. New monitoring plan will be formed according to the process of the pandemic in the country.)
- Turkish Language Exams, catch-up and back-up tests are cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic and they are planned to be implemented during 2020-2021 academic year.
- The development of the “School-based social cohesion model” with Bilkent University continues.
- “Activity Based Teacher’s Handbook” sets were sent to Project provinces for Turkish education. However, they are not distributed yet due to the closure of schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic.