Understanding Change in Turkey's Education Policy Towards Syrian Refugee Children

Open Access
Williams, Lydia
Area of Honors:
Political Science
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Juliette Tolay, Thesis Supervisor
  • Matthew Woessner, Honors Advisor
  • Turkey
  • Syrian refugees
  • education
  • policy
  • temporary education centers
This thesis seeks to better understand why Turkish educational policy towards Syrian refugee children has changed. Turkey has faced the challenge to address the educational needs of over a million Syrian school-aged children. Turkish government officials are concerned that an entire generation of uneducated Syrian children may increase possible future societal issues, such as crime, illiteracy, and unemployment. Turkish authorities have not always adopted the same approach when addressing educational needs of its children and curriculum. After eight years of the conflict within Syria with no end in sight, Turkey is initiating massive changes to further integrate Syrian refugees into its society, including through the provision of educational access. This thesis primarily focuses on the explanations behind the transition of children’s attendance from temporary education centers (TECs) to Turkish public schools. To understand this transition, the author reviewed the academic literature, conducted semi-structured interviews in Turkey with a diverse representation of the main stakeholders, and applied a thick description methodology. The research found that policy changed due to misperceptions on how long the Syrian conflict would last. This research is important because it highlights the various factors and lessons learned that may apply to educational policy within other states hosting large refugee movements.