Mustafa Ersoy’s fate hangs in the balance as he faces deportation to Turkey. With his expired passport, he has turned to Switzerland in a desperate plea for asylum.
by Inja van Soest.
In a recent report by İsmail Sağıroğlu from Boldmedya, we learn of yet another tragic chapter unfolding against a backdrop of mounting pressure within Turkey. Mustafa Ersoy, a 52-year-old educator from Konya Beyşehir, is facing deportation. After completing his studies in computer science in Kazakhstan, he stayed for a decade as a teacher. Afterwards, he returned to his homeland, Turkey, assuming roles as a manager in Beykoz and Sultanbeyli reading halls affiliated with Kaynak Eğitim in Istanbul.
However, Mustafa’s life took a sharp turn on July 15, 2016, when Turkey experienced a coup attempt. The Turkish government attributed the coup to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999. Once an ally of President Erdogan, Gulen firmly denies any involvement in the coup. The Turkish government has labelled Gulen’s network as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization” (FETO), accusing its supporters of establishing a “parallel state” by infiltrating various state institutions, including the police, judiciary, and military. In the two years following the coup attempt, Turkey remained under a state of emergency, leading to the arrest of tens of thousands and the suspension or dismissal of at least 125,000 civil servants, military personnel, and academics suspected of having links to Gulen.
When Mustafa’s colleagues started facing detainment and arrests, he sought refuge in Kazakhstan. However, his inability to renew his passport forced him to leave Kazakhstan, ultimately reaching Switzerland via Greece, where he applied for asylum.
Regrettably, Mustafa Ersoy’s application was rejected on two separate occasions, with him not having access to the information in his case files. The situation reached a critical juncture on Thursday, October 12th, when Swiss Police picked him up in the early morning hours at the camp where he had been staying and escorted him to the airport. Mustafa refused to board the flight to Turkey, fully aware that he would face imminent arrest and persecution upon his return. Since then, he has been in a detention centre near Geneva alongside other immigrants awaiting deportation to their home countries.
It was not until Monday, October 16th, that Mustafa received a glimmer of hope when a Swiss court granted him the right to reapply for asylum. His re-application with the legal help of FLAG21 is now under review, with a decision expected within the next ten days.
Broken Chalk firmly stands with Mustafa Ersoy and is grateful for the help he has received from FLAG21. Broken Chalk appeals to the Swiss Government to grant him asylum and protection from the potential persecution he faces at the hands of the Turkish Government.
The first educational transition occurred in 1948, from the colonial education system to a national system. The second educational transition happened after 1962, from a national education to the so-called ‘Burmese Way to Socialism’ education. From 1988 to 2010, the country’s education noticeably deteriorated so that almost 40% of children never attended school, and nearly three-quarters failed to complete even primary education (Lwing, 2007).
In September 2014, the parliament and the military-backed government approved the national education law. However, students protested against the national education law, which is highly centralised and restricts academic freedom. In June 2015, an amendment to the national education law was enacted with minor changes. The teachers, scholars and students had to obey social control. In addition, the government prioritised its political agenda in the education system.
Education Budget and the System in the Country
With education spending 2.91 per cent of the GDP, the lack of an education budget (approximately three times that of the military budget) further hinders growth. As a result, compared to other Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, children in Myanmar do significantly worse on standardised tests. The new country has begun reforms, such as the gradual implementation of free education through high school. Despite some progress, there is still a long way to go (Children of the Mekong).
Genocide of Rohingya People by Myanmar and its Effect on Children’s Education
The Rohingyas, a Myanmar ethnic group, have been denied fundamental human rights, including citizenship. They have been subjected to terrible oppression, prejudice, violence, torture, unfair prosecution, murder, and great poverty for decades. Rakhine State’s hostile environment has caused the Rohingyas to evacuate their homes and seek asylum in neighbouring nations (Shohel, 2023). This erupted the children’s fundamental right to education while asylum-seeking and travelling with much trauma.
Many villagers have fled the fighting and their burned homes during the decade-long civil conflict. Many villages seek refuge in the bush, and the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) is growing. Hundreds of villagers lost their homes and left their communities during the recent conflict in Kachin State, northern Myanmar (Lwin, 2019). Thousands of Rohingya men, women, and children were shot and burned in a matter of weeks during the violence against the Rohingya community in northern Rakhine State, western Myanmar; masses of Rohingya women and girls were raped; infant children were killed; men and boys were arbitrarily arrested; several hundred villages were destroyed in arson attacks; and more than 700,000 people were forced to flee to neighbouring countries (Washington Post, 2017).
There are around one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, including 300,000 who entered as a result of previous years’ violence (Washington Post, 2017). More than half of the Rohingya refugees are women and girls, with 60% being minors under 18 (Oxfam, 2018). According to the UNHCR (2018), 97,418 Myanmar refugees live in nine refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. 54.4% are under 18 (The Border Consortium (TBC)). This is a question of nearly half of the population how to get proper education in refugee camps. In addition, Malaysia is one of the transit countries for refugees, and Malaysia has thousands of Rohingya refugees that have no legal refugee status by the government.
Over 31,000 refugee children from southeast Myanmar’s conflict-torn Kayah State require immediate financial assistance to continue their education. Despite the continuous violence in Kayah, pupils attend community schools, including makeshift classrooms in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps (The Irrawaddy, 2022).
How Different Are Minorities Getting Education?
Although the name ‘Burma’ is derived from the Bamar people, who constitute two-thirds of the country’s population, according to official government data, Burma is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the region, with over 135 ethnic groups. The country’s geographic location has drawn settlers from various backgrounds throughout history. There are over 100 languages spoken, and minority ethnic populations are estimated to make up approximately 40-60% of the total population and occupy half of the land area (Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), 2021).
The Bamar (68%), Chin (2.5%), Kachin (1.5%), Karen (7%), Kayah (1.83%), Mon (2%), Rakhine (4%) and Shan (9%) are the eight ‘official’ groups. The figures are from 2016. The sea gipsies’ of the southern islands, the “long-necked” ladies of Padaung, the Nagas on the Indian boundary, and the tattooed women of Chin State, not to mention the Pa-O, Wa, Kokang, Akha, and Lahu indigenous peoples, are all part of these broad groups. The country’s major religions are Theravada Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Animism.
Teaching minority languages in state schools has been prohibited in the Burmese education system since 1962, and this policy remains in place today (Lwin, 2017); even though Myanmar has an estimated population of 51 million people who speak over 100 languages and dialects, as stated above.
The Hardship of Language in Education, Especially Ethnic Language
The language of education is not neutral since it reflects the historically determined ability of one or more groups to elevate their language to such prominence within a state. A curriculum may also contain classes that educate about local history. In certain circumstances, language is the primary divide behind ethnic conflict and civil war (Shohel, 2023). For example, Bormann, Cederman, and Vogt (2017) demonstrate that linguistic cleavages are increasingly prevalent. A centralised education sector often fails to adequately address the grievances arising from rights to identity and language (Dryden-Peterson & Mulimbi, 2016).
Child Soldiers and Child Labour
A civil war necessitates many soldiers, and both sides of the conflict use children to strengthen their forces. Although it is difficult to determine due to a lack of official estimates, tens of thousands of child soldiers are undoubtedly present in Myanmar (Children of the Mekong). These children, many orphans, are frequently enlisted or sold to armies. They are indoctrinated and pushed to battle after they join the military. Solving this problem will necessitate a reduction in ethnic tensions and enhance political stability, both of which appear unattainable.
According to UNICEF, one out of every four children aged 6 to 15 works. There are two reasons for this: schooling is still costly, and lack of finance for the education sector sometimes means that the children receive insufficient education. As a result, many rural residents prefer to send their children to work to earn money (Children of the Mekong).
The military authority has been the norm rather than the exception in Myanmar for 50 years. For many decades, women were barred from holding leadership positions and were denied equal economic and educational possibilities as men. During these decades, social conventions decided that women and girls should control the household, family, and other caretaking chores while males should be leaders, owing to the country’s military and hyper-masculinity. This period’s patriarchal worldview is exemplified by the military-drafted 2008 constitution, which regularly refers to women as mothers and proclaims that specific vocations “are suitable only for men.” Myanmar was ranked second most discriminating in the 2021 Social Institutions and Gender Index2 out of nine Southeast Asian countries (UN Women & UNDP, 2022).
According to the women who responded to the survey in December 2021, “After the military takeover, all the hopes and aims are gone, and everything has been difficult. The education system is worsening, and the scarcity of jobs is increasing” Kayin resident, 55 years old (UN Women & UNDP, 2022).
Children with Disabilities
According to the Ministry of Population’s 2019 survey, 12.8% of the population has one of the six disabilities: 6.3% have a visual impairment; 2.4% have a hearing impairment; 5.4% have difficulty walking; 4.4% have difficulty remembering/concentrating; 1.9% have difficulty self-care; and 1.6% have difficulty communicating (DoP, 2020, p. 93).
According to the Ministry of Education, students with disabilities attended 14.72% of all regular primary and secondary schools in 2019. In Myanmar, statistics show that education for disabled children is scarce (Tonegawa, 2022).
DoP et al., 2017: 156 estimate that 45.4% of children with impairments aged 5-9 years and 31.4% of children with disabilities aged 10-13 years have never attended school. The enrolment rate of disabled children is low compared to Myanmar’s overall net enrollment rate in formal education, which is 98.5% in formal primary education and 79.2% in formal lower secondary school. In Myanmar, school enrollment for disabled children is low (Tonegawa, 2022). This multi-sectoral review holds that Myanmar’s success in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is largely dependent.
Unqualified Higher Education Teachers and Teachers under Threat
The University scholars are expected to be positioned at the nexus of teacher training and research practice. The scarcity of research-related scholars is a crucial issue for Myanmar, with their minimal studies on their research engagement.
The teachers also, as well as students, are under threat of ongoing conflict. The 2021 coup and the civil war affected teachers’ safety. In addition, eleven though the teacher is threatened by their lives, their income is insufficient to survive.
The second anniversary of Myanmar’s February 2021 coup d’état has just passed, and the country’s terrible state of armed warfare, insurgency, turmoil, and anarchy has only worsened. With the uncertainty surrounding the postponed general elections this year, which most believe will not be free, fair, or genuine, the civil war inside Myanmar is projected to worsen in 2023. There appears to be no end in sight. All of these conditions deteriorate the access to quality education for many children.
The Border Consortium (TBC). (n.d.). TBC’s Strategic Plan for 2023-2025.
Children of the Mekong. (n.d.). Education in Myanmar: challenges created by an unstable political environment. Children of the Mekong. Retrieved August 11, 2023, from https://www.childrenofthemekong.org/education-in-myanmar-challenges-created-by-an-unstable-political-environment/
CNN. (n.d.). Myanmar fast facts. CNN. Retrieved September 7, 2018, from. https://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/30/world/asia/myanmar-fast-facts/index.html
Government of Mynmar & UNICEF. (2020, December). Myanmar 2019-2020 Education Budget Brief. https://reliefweb.int/report/myanmar/myanmar-2019-2020-education-budget-brief-december-2020
https://www.hart-uk.org/a-brief-overview-of-the-ethnic-minorities-of-burma/. (2021, February 8). A Brief Overview of the Ethnic Minorities of Burma. Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART). Retrieved August 11, 2023, from https://www.hart-uk.org/a-brief-overview-of-the-ethnic-minorities-of-burma/
Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART). (2021, February 8). A Brief Overview of the Ethnic Minorities of Burma. Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART). Retrieved August 11, 2023, from https://www.hart-uk.org/a-brief-overview-of-the-ethnic-minorities-of-burma/
The Irrawaddy. (2022, November 24). Southeast Myanmar’s Refugee Children Need Funding to Stay in School. The Irrawaddy. Retrieved August 11, 2023, from https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/southeast-myanmars-refugee-children-need-funding-to-stay-in-school.html
Kyaw, M. T. (n.d.). Factors Influencing Teacher Educators’ Research Engagement in the Reform Process of Teacher Education Institutions in Myanmar. SAGE Open, 11(4). https://doi.org/10.1177/21582440211061349
Lall, M. (2023). The state of education, pre-reform. In Myanmar’s Education Reforms: A Pathway to Social Justice? UCL Press.
Lwin, T. (2017, March 10). Comments on the National Education Strategic Plan (2016–2021) of the Ministry of Education, Myanmar.
Lwin, T. (2019, June 13). Global justice, national education and local realities in Myanmar: a civil society perspective. Asia Pacific Education Review, (20), 273–284. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12564-019-09595-z
Lwing, T. (2007, July). Education and democracy in Burma: Decentralization and classroom-level educational reform. In Forum: International forum for democratic studies.
Myanmar Department of Population. (n.d.). 2019 Inter-censal survey. Department of Population. Retrieved August 11, 2023, from https://www.dop.gov.mm/en/publication-category/2019-inter-censal-survey
Shohel, M. (2023, May 3). Lives of the Rohingya children in limbo: Childhood, education, and children’s rights in refugee camps in Bangladesh. PROSPECTS, (53), 131–149. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-022-09631-8
Tonegawa, Y. (2022, January 15). Contextualization of Inclusive Education: Education for Children with Disabilities in Myanmar. International Journal of Instruction, 15(1), 365-380.
UNCHR. (n.d.). United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). (2018). Refugees in Thailand. https://www.unhcr.org/th/en.
Untitled. (n.d.). UNFPA Myanmar. Retrieved August 11, 2023, from https://myanmar.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/inter-censal_survey_union_report_english.pdf
UN Women & UNDP. (n.d.). Regressing Gender Equality in Myanmar: Women living under the pandemic and military rule. Report.
UN Women & UNDP. (2022, March 8). Regressing Gender Equality in Myanmar: Women living under the Pandemic and Military rule – Myanmar. ReliefWeb. Retrieved August 11, 2023, from https://reliefweb.int/report/myanmar/regressing-gender-equality-myanmar-women-living-under-pandemic-and-military-rule
Washington Post. (2017, October 25). Bangladesh is now home to almost 1 million Rohingya refugees. Washington Post. Retrieved August 11, 2023, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/10/25/bangladesh-is-now-home-to-almost-1-million-rohingya-refugees/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.24ca7b467a0e.
Refugees are those who have a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Experiencing such fears in early childhood will critically impact a child’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development.
As articulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have specific rights. These include principles of protection from harm, provision of basic needs, recognition and participation of children as rights holders.
Through the Temporary Protection Regulation passed in 2014, Syrian refugees are provided specific protection to specific rights, including education, shelter, food, water, housing, social security mechanisms and the labour market.
Via the 2015 EU-Turkey joint action plan, both sides aim for enhanced educational opportunities across all levels and a commitment to assisting the host nation, Turkey, particularly in aspects like infrastructure and various services.
In 2018, the Global Compact on Refugees set a goal that governments should be in a position to include refugee children and youth in the national education systems within the time period of three months of displacement.
The earthquake in February 2023 inflicted additional distress upon refugees and other displaced children in Turkey, particularly impacting their access to education.
Education is a fundamental entitlement for every refugee and individual seeking asylum. Turkey is facing a significant influx of asylum seekers and is also a host to a substantial refugee population, a majority composed of Syrians. Unfortunately, these refugee children are unable to access education due to their circumstances. The existing educational framework for refugees in Turkey is burdened with numerous difficulties and obstacles.
Many enrol in Turkish schools after obtaining an international protection identification document bearing the foreigner identification number. The tuition fee waiver announced by the council of ministers only applies to students from Syria. Turkish classes are offered at Public Education Centres free of charge. For this, the international protection identification document is required. However, if insufficient persons are enrolled, said classes may not commence on the requested enrolment date.
Individuals hailing from Syria are eligible to enrol in Temporary Education Centres, whereas refugees and asylum seekers from different nations are exclusively permitted to register at Turkish public schools. Temporary Educational Centres are schools which provide educational services for persons arriving in Turkey for a temporary period. These were initially staffed by Syrian volunteers who UNICEF and other NGOs financially compensated. As per the Ministry of National Education, a considerable proportion of the refugee children were out of school in 2019. However, there has been a substantial decline in the number of children not attending since the initial years of the Syrian refugee crisis. As of 2017, the Turkish authorities have been implementing measures to integrate Syrian refugees into the country’s public education system.
Statelessness within the Syrian population residing in Turkey presents a notable issue. Challenges persist due to factors such as the lack of proper civil documentation, difficulties in acquiring birth certificates in Turkey, and the citizenship regulations of Syria. Notably, Syrian nationality can only be inherited by a child from their mother if the birth occurs within the borders of Syria.
Within Turkey, if the mother’s relationship with a Syrian or Turkish father is unestablished or unclear, then the child faces the risk of statelessness. An absence of Turkish citizenship or permanent residency leads to them being guests within the country and failing to be integrated into Turkish society.
While Turkey is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, it has submitted a request for geographical limitation. Consequently, individuals such as Syrians and those arriving from various other nations are ineligible for complete refugee status in Turkey. Alternatively, they are registered under the “temporary protection” regulation.
This Temporary Protection Regulation allows refugees access to essential resources such as healthcare and education. Once the refugees are registered under the Temporary Protection Regulation, they are required to remain within that province.
Additional issues arise from the lack of recognition of temporary and international protection status in 16 provinces across Turkey. The reduction of 25% to 20% foreign population within a given neighbourhood continues to cause significant issues. Finding jobs becomes a difficulty since the individual is forced to look for jobs only in the area the individual is registered in, thereby limiting the job opportunities that may be available to them in other places, such as Istanbul.
A recurring trend observed worldwide is that during times of crisis, the education sector is frequently the first to be halted and the last to be reinstated. It is crucial to be have access to education regardless of whether you are an international protection applicant or status holder or if you plan to resettle in another country or go back to your country. It helps the children develop skills, stability as well as integrate them socially and academically into the education system.
In a study conducted, it was seen that the main problem was that of language. The employed teachers did not speak Arabic, and the children, in this case, did not speak Turkish. There are no activities carried out within the classroom setting to facilitate their learning. There is no varied material brought in to help aid their understanding. Teachers need to be provided with vocational training to better facilitate the learning process for refugee children through teaching strategies and teaching aids.
The teachers have little to no awareness on these refugee children, not just from an educational point of view but also on a psychological level. A majority of these students have been subjected to post-traumatic stress disorder, primarily due to the conditions they are coming from.
The children’s communication barrier furthers the issue within education. When the refugee children are put with other students who can speak the Turkish language, they are often subject to mockery, lack confidence and isolation due to the language barrier.
Familial background and trauma
In a gender analysis carried out in 2019 to explore the Syrian refugee journey with a focus on the difficulties encountered by refugees in Turkey, it was observed that a notable portion of Syrian refugee children were not attending school. Among those who were in school, there were elevated levels of trauma. This significantly undermined the educational advancement of these children.
Children were initially not sent to schools since parents felt their stay in the country where they sought asylum would be temporary. However, once the families realised the permanency of their residency in Turkey, the enrolment rate in schools by refugee children steadily increased.
Research has consistently shown the positive effects of education on children who experience post-traumatic stress and develop coping and resilience skills. This can prove particularly helpful and effective for refugee children in the long run.
However, despite the positive impact education has, it comes with complications. An unstable or unsupportive home environment hinders a smooth educational process for these children and impacts the quality of education.
Refugee families typically find themselves having lost all they had. This, alongside the financial strain, forces their children into early marriage, leading them to drop out of school. Worth mentioning, is that in 2020 there was a drop in boys attending school. It was seen that reasons such as sending children to work due to augmented economic hardship were one of the reasons to withdraw boys from schools.
Decline in services
Natural disasters, epidemics and wars spare no children. Turkey was gripped by conflict following Covid-19 and the earthquake in February 2023. Refugee children are often subject to poverty, poor living conditions, minimal access to safe drinking water, healthcare and food, as well as compelled to work owing to the unfavourable economic circumstances faced by the family, leading to the children being forced to neglect their education. The Conditional Cash Transfer for Education for Syrians and Other Refugees and the Promotion of Integration of Syrian Children into Turkish Education were seen as ways to address the economic barriers to enrolment and attendance.
These children have been victims of distressing experiences at a young age, such as the maiming and death of their near and dear ones. Due to the unstable environment, this results in a delay with their access to education. These children may end up receiving education in inadequate educational facilities, thus hindering their ability to fully grasp and unleash their full potential.
Racism and xenophobia
Instances of racist and xenophobic assaults have experienced a substantial rise as well. This has been further exacerbated by various politicians within the country. This continues to subject refugees from Syria and other places in constant danger throughout schools, homes and workplaces. Taking into consideration the duty Turkey has towards its refugees, especially as a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, the politicians, members of the government, policymakers, and other influential persons should make a conscious effort not to instigate animosity towards refugees within the country.
Teachers and other resource persons need to make a conscious effort to bring awareness among the children of the host state that discrimination, racism, bullying, and other such acts are unacceptable behaviour. The citizens or parents of the students of the host state also need to be made aware to end discriminatory treatment towards these refugee children and teach their children to be respectful towards their fellow peers. Basic language skills among refugee children would allow for both parties to have a basic level of interaction. If not, refugees will persist in grappling with the notable issue of being excluded and marginalized.
The host nation must actively strive to comprehend the challenges that refugees encounter within an educational environment, encompassing issues like bullying, discrimination, language barriers, and similar concerns. These factors impact the necessity of forging connections and fostering a sense of belonging.
February 2023 earthquake
The earthquake that struck the nation in February 2023 has exacerbated the challenges faced by refugees. Basic resources, such as education, are now inaccessible for children. Several schools are being repurposed as shelters for those affected by the earthquake.
UNICEF has managed to help 140,000 children with access to formal or non-formal education and has provided more than 260,000 children with access to mental health and psychosocial support. UNICEF and AFAD have played an active role in helping the Ministry of National Education with temporary education measures such as tents for catch-up classes and exam preparation. However, even UNICEF recognises the need for longer-term support needed for rebuilding and recovering the lives of these children and their families.
It is a common pattern that education, particularly for vulnerable groups, tends to be disregarded and relegated to a lower priority. This situation could potentially push these vulnerable children into engaging in child labor as a means of supporting themselves or their families during these challenging circumstances. The increase in bias and impoverishment persists among these Syrian refugees, and when combined with the restricted educational access, they find themselves compelled to work merely to sustain their livelihoods.
The hosting country should make efforts to guarantee the integration of displaced children, regardless of their specific classification as refugees, internally displaced persons, asylum seekers, or unaccompanied minors, into the local education system in their respective residential areas.
Considering the massive influx of migration that Turkey receives due to global humanitarian crises, it would be wise if Turkey took an active initiative not only in policy-making but in its implementation regarding the education situation for said displaced children.
Partners within the country as well as internationally should step up to help the Turkish authorities by equipping them with the required support in the form of financial aid, technical assistance, expertise in terms of teachers who have the talent to speak the relevant languages, subject knowledge and to be able to cater to the different kinds of difficulties that come with teaching children that are coming from volatile environments.
It’s important to acknowledge that a teacher tasked with educating refugee children, along with those who are internally displaced, asylum seekers, or unaccompanied minors, is instructing a group that faces challenges beyond what is typically encountered in a standard classroom setting.
These children may have disabilities from birth or due to violence in their countries, have seen family members and friends killed or injured, or have even been victims of sexual violence. It’s highly probable that their education might have been disrupted well before their arrival in the host country. As a result, teachers in these contexts need to possess not only strong teaching skills but also a profound understanding of their classroom environment and a sensitivity to the unique situations they are confronted with. This is a difficult challenge.
The host country and other partners assisting the host country must also be mindful of this fact while hiring teachers and other resource persons. Education, especially for refugees, is exceptionally beneficial for social restructuring and socioeconomic development.
As the viability of the Turkiye Compact is under ongoing evaluation, particularly given the difficulties involved, its execution would notably contribute to supporting Turkey and enhancing the nation’s economy. Additionally, it would assist refugees in achieving greater self-sufficiency and decreasing their reliance on humanitarian aid funding.
Introducing a universally recognized certification system for these children would enhance the ease of educational transitions, if they were to occur. This system would facilitate enrollment, attendance, retention, progression, and completion, fostering a more inclusive, equitable, and high-quality education for both refugee children and youth.
Ignored, bullied, rejected and discriminated against are common words used to describe the experience of refugee children in schools. It is high time this narration and plight are changed. Turkey must uphold its treaty obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Convention against Torture and continue to uphold the principle of nonrefoulement. Ensuring education provides a robust platform for children to be emboldened and enrich their future. It is an immense responsibility that should be shouldered by the state and non-state actors at the local, national and international levels to maximise all efforts to ensure a safe space for these children.
Diamond, M., & Oberg, C. (2019). Gender-Related Challenges in Educational Interventions with Syrian Refugee Parents of Trauma-Affected Children in Turkey. Children (Basel, Switzerland), 6(10), 110. https://doi.org/10.3390/children6100110
The social situation in Chad has never remained the same since the passing of the Corona Virus Pandemic at the end of the year 2019. The Chadian population has been experiencing various social difficulties leaving families to their own faith (UNICEF, 2023). In fact, parents have seen their households’ and loved ones’ basic needs consistently overlooked and denied as time went by. These basic needs inclusively concern safety, shelter, food, proper healthcare, and basic education following the reports made by UNICEF (2023).
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2022) affirms that the socio-economic situation and political instability play a significant role in the current condition. The challenge regarding Chad’s education sector has persisted for more than four years. It has been proven that seven in ten children aged 18 years and younger do not have access to any schools or learning facilities in Chad (World Bank, 2022 & UNHCR, 2022). The UNHCR (2022) additionally attests that the perpetration of armed conflicts in the Lake Chad Basin has been contributing highly to the worsening of the education condition in Chad. This is because it restrains any humanitarian aid that may come from both local or international organisations due to the lack of security in the surrounding environments.
Consequently, 1.4 million children lack basic educational assistance while 360 000 struggle to access social protection services (OCHA, 2022). More than fifty per cent of children are incapable of accessing primary school education (INSEED & UNICEF, 2019). These statistics have been confirmed by the Humanitarian Needs Overview (2022), which attests that the number of children who need educational support increased by 8% in 2022. Although the conditions are not met, UNICEF has been making considerable efforts toward promoting and providing 85,600 formal and non-formal opportunities (UNICEF, 2023). This is being implemented through and with the help of the Chadian government’s local and national support coordination.
These efforts have resulted in the continuous educational support of 120,437 children, including girls, who represent 43% of the beneficiaries, according to UNICEF (2022). This was the result of both on-site and remote intensive learning programmes, schools’ rehabilitations, and some psychosocial support provided to children with disabilities. The World Bank equally joined hands in contributing to upgrading learning facilities and conditions in Chad. This is being achieved through various development programmes that benefit the school’s pedagogical and managerial staff for a period of five years (World Bank, 2022).
Research attests that the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has evenly partaken in providing massive and continuous school attendance in various refugee camps in Chad. This endeavour is made regardless of the minimal financial and logistical support. UNESCO partially contributed to this cause through its involvement in the improvement of conditions in both existing and new formal and non-formal teaching and learning facilities. UNESCO thus set up two successful emergency development projects destined to upgrade the quality of the educational sector in a bid to minimise drop-outs and child marriage and labour. These projects are known as PREAT and PUREAT because they both plan and organise the implementation of ideas into practical actions (PREAT, 2019-2023 & PUREAT, 2021-2023). These projects have been involved in the translation of teaching documents from French into both Chadian Arabic and Sar, which are the popular languages spoken in the country.
The concerned projects have been working progressively well so far as they have allowed teachers to use national languages to favour pupils’ teaching process. Consequently, young and older pupils unable to understand or speak French may still have access to learning facilities and knowledge ((PREAT, 2019-2023 & PUREAT, 2021-2023). This strategy has proven to have increased the number of literates in both formal and non-formal educational facilities in the concerned country in accordance with the projects’ reports.
Quality education is the key Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) among all SDGs and thus constitutes a crucial sector in realising the remaining goals (Katalay et at., 2022). In fact, SDG 4 secures the inclusivity and equity of quality education for each and every child. This is because, being born equal, every child has got the universal right to education regardless of their origins, colour of skin, religious beliefs, family backgrounds, age frame, or gender. Access to quality education has been revealed to be a vital pattern in individuals’ lifelong self-actualisation and poverty reduction all over the World (Katalay et al., 2022).
Katalay et at. (2022) carried out qualitative research that reviewed the educational challenges faced at different levels of understanding: global, continental, and local. Its results have indeed affirmed that the availability of quality learning facilities and affordable school fees were patterns in the increased school attendance rate in various African counties. Building affordable quality schools and vocational training centres in Chad may thus encourage parents and guardians to send their loved ones to acquire knowledge (Katalay et al., 2022). Research shows that education truly allows every citizen of a given nationality to be an added hand in both the socio-economic and political developments of their respective environments. This confirms that it is only through education that the remaining SDGs may be achieved in Chad (Katalay et al., 2022 & UNICEF, 2023).
Some research attested that individuals with low or without formal education or training are exposed to real-life struggles to provide basic needs in Africa (Katalay et al., 2022). This explains why the educated have more chances of finding employment than the less or non-educated. The knowledge of those who are educated guarantees them access to various employment opportunities within their areas of specialisation. Schools and vocational training centres will equip individuals with some required skills and knowledge that will enable them to get various well-paid jobs and provide basic needs at home.
This is to say that less or non-educated individuals are more exposed to a lack of employment opportunities and thus incapable of providing for their families and loved ones. This is because their resources will be limited, and so will their access to various basic needs. These needs include the daily provision of shelter, food, proper healthcare, and education. In light of this, education seems to be the crucial element that provides the Chadian government with capacities to fully participate and contribute to improving their social services. Improving these services would consistently and continuously make the lives of as many individuals as possible better and worth living (Katalay et al., 2022 & UNESCO, 2023).
Additionally, inclusive education for both men and women has proven to play a crucial role in abolishing various sociocultural mindsets and practices (Katalay et al., 2022). These involve female children being denied access to education, female genital mutilation (FGM), gender inequality in workplaces, women being abused, and child marriage and labour. Reports have revealed that poverty is the cause and consequence of the daily perpetration of social vices and inequalities in Chad (OCHA, 2021).
Poverty limits access to education, standard shelter, food, healthcare, clean water, constant electricity, and sanitary facilities as it increases the number of refugees. Inversely, all these social problems joined together seem to be partaking in upgrading the poverty level in many African countries, including Chad (World Food Program, 2023).
Research has shown that the poverty level in the African continent, in general, and in Chad, in particular, has been the cause of the stagnant situation of the education sector. This is because the lack of security and peace in various neighbouring countries has aggravated and increased the number of refugees in Chad. This makes the situation more difficult to handle since Chad has already been struggling to provide essential social services for its citizens. In addition, the security or safety around Lake Chad has not been helping the current situation due to the danger to which both the population and humanitarian organisations are exposed. Six in ten parents have expressed their fear of sending their children to schools or vocational training centres, given the low-security measures taken in their surrounding environments.
In conclusion, several factors have recently been worsening the quality development of the education sector in Chad. It has been proven that socio-economic and political instabilities have contributed highly to the poverty level in multiple sectors. This situation has been affecting nearly half of the Chadian population. The downgrading of the education sector in Chad has left families and households in a daily dilemma consisting of either providing food or sending their children to schools and centres. This explains why individuals in the country have limited access to other basic social human needs. These limited or lack of basic human needs leave parents and children denied a roof over their heads, food, clean water, electricity, health treatment, and basic education.
In the Netherlands, the Akbas-Tereci family, devout members of the Gülen Movement, stand at a precipice of uncertainty. With the impending arrival of their second child, this Turkish couple and their five-year-old daughter Vera face a worrying reality. This legal dilemma threatens their pursuit of safety and stability. Their journey from Turkey to the Netherlands lays bare the unforgiving complexities of seeking asylum, shedding light on profound questions of justice and compassion in a world of uncertainty.
~ by Inja van Soest
A recent petition has sparked interest in the faith of this young family. Sümeyra Akbas and Beytullah Tereci, a Turkish couple currently residing in the Netherlands with their five-year-old daughter, are expecting their second child. The couple is part of the Gülen Movement, which promotes a tolerant Islam emphasising altruism, modesty, hard work and education. Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish government accused the movement of being involved in an attempted coup in 2016, leading to much controversy about the movement and a political conflict. The Gülen Movement is classified as a terrorist organisation, making it dangerous for Sümeyra Akbas and Beytullah Tereci to return to Turkey.
The family have been in the Netherlands for more than a year now. They have been volunteering in their community whilst attending Dutch language courses thrice weekly. Their five-year-old daughter has started to speak Dutch and has made local friends. Beytullah states: “We want to feel at home here. We came here to start a new life and have a future.”
Typically, Turkish refugees are granted residence permits, with approval rates reaching as high as 97.5 % in 2022, according to VluchtelingenWerk statistics. However, the case of Akbas and Tereci stands out due to their unique circumstances. While the parents hold Turkish citizenship, their daughter is of Brazilian nationality. Akbas and Tereci had fled from Turkey to Iraq before the failed coup attempt in 2016. They married in Iraq and built their lives as elementary school and preschool teachers. They had five more years of validity on their Turkish passports and believed they could return to their home country within that timeframe. However, when they were expecting their first child, they had to make a decision. If their daughter had been born in Iraq, she would have been stateless without any papers as them being Gülenists; they couldn’t go to the Embassy out of fear of being arrested. She would neither be granted a Turkish nor an Iraqi passport, and they would have been unable to leave Iraq. They decided to go to a country where their child would receive papers by birth. And they ended up going to Brazil for the birth of their daughter.
After two months of being there, they returned as a family of three. They didn’t plan on settling there. Therefore, they didn’t need a Visa, as their stay was shorter than three months. Afterwards, they returned to Iraq, where their jobs and life awaited them. Five years later, the decision to get papers for their daughter puts them in a situation where the Netherlands does not want to grant them residency as their daughter is Brazilian. The ruling of their case states they have a connection with Brazil. However, they neither speak the language nor have family or friends there.
The court ruling surprised the couple and their lawyer because the family would not receive residency in Brazil either, which could ultimately lead to them being deported to Turkey. The family was supposed to have to leave their current asylum centre by the 14th of September but have been offered the option to go to a different asylum centre. However, they would not be allowed to leave the town and have to sign in every morning that they are present at the centre. Akbas expresses his feelings of having escaped an unjust Turkish prison sentence to now live like a prisoner at the asylum centre. A daily life without much prospect. “It is like being sick, and you don’t enjoy anything. I don’t enjoy food or drinking. It should be happy times for my family; we worry too much instead.”
The initial ruling has been appealed, but the judge ruled against the appeal again, a disappointing outcome. But the family, their lawyer and their friends are unwilling to give up. Whilst their case is being fought in court, their Dutch language teacher has started a petition to revise the decision made by the court.
Beytullah Tereci is thankful for the support the family has been getting and hopes for a positive outcome for his family and his children. “We want to be home, but we cannot go there. So we choose a new home, a future. How can it be that your home is not welcoming you, and you still have to go.”
Neslihan es una refugiada de Turquía que llegó a los Países Bajos para construir una nueva vida con su esposo y dos hijos.
En agosto de 2018, Neslihan dejó su vida en Turquía y huyó a Grecia. Allí pasó tres meses antes de venir a los Países Bajos. Ha vivido con su familia en viviendas sociales en Amstelveen durante algunos años. Vivió con su familia durante 19 meses en diferentes AZCs en los Países Bajos. “Conozco los Países Bajos mejor que un holandés promedio”, afirma Neslihan.
En Turquía, Neslihan trabajó durante mucho tiempo como profesora de química, física y biología. Estaba ansiosa por empezar a enseñar de nuevo cuando llegó a los Países Bajos. Afortunadamente, encontrar trabajo no fue difícil. A través del proyecto “Statushouders voor de Klas”, aprendió cómo funciona el sistema escolar holandés, lo que finalmente la ayudó a conseguir una pasantía. Además, Neslihan ha trabajado como voluntaria en una escuela. Allí trabajó como asistente de enseñanza técnica en la escuela secundaria Apollo en Ámsterdam. En la misma escuela, pudo crecer y, después de un tiempo, también se le permitió enseñar dos días a la semana. El próximo año solo enseñará y ya no trabajará como asistente.
¿Por qué decidiste convertirte en profesora en su momento?
“Disfruto enseñando; no lo veo como un trabajo porque es una pasión mía”. Lleva 18 años enseñando y todavía le gusta mucho. Después de completar su educación, comenzó a enseñar de inmediato. Eligio ser profesora de química, física y biología porque tenía las calificaciones más altas en estas tres materias y le parecían temas divertidos.
¿Por qué decidiste venir a los Países Bajos?
“Leímos en Internet y las noticias y a menudo escuchamos que en los Países Bajos, las personas son libres y pueden compartir sus opiniones o ideas. Desafortunadamente, esto no es así en Turquía, donde no eres libre y no puedes decir lo que quieres. Incluso los niños a menudo van a la cárcel por revelar sus opiniones”. Por esta razón, el hermano y la hermana de Neslihan también vinieron a los Países Bajos con sus familias. Neslihan ve a su familia cada semana.
¿Qué desafíos enfrentaste cuando llegaste a los Países Bajos?
Neslihan es una refugiada política y era considerada una terrorista en su propio país debido a sus opiniones. Toda su familia tuvo que huir de Turquía en barco. El viaje para llegar a los Países Bajos fue intenso. Tuvo que pagar mucho dinero y negociar con traficantes de personas, lo cual puede ser bastante peligroso.
Además, Neslihan quería aprender holandés; esto fue bastante difícil al principio. Como no estaba obligada a integrarse entonces, no pudo tomar un curso de holandés gratuito durante su estancia en el AZC. Sin embargo, aprendió algo de holandés de amigos y voluntarios en el AZC. Por esto, está muy agradecida. Neslihan quería integrarse y asimilarse, por lo que la comprensión del idioma era fundamental. Después de una larga lucha, finalmente logró pedir prestado dinero con el cual pudo tomar un curso.
Ocasionalmente todavía tiene problemas con el idioma holandés, especialmente con ‘er’ más las diferentes preposiciones que encuentra difíciles. Además, todavía no entiende ciertas expresiones holandesas, pero cree que eventualmente lo logrará.
¿Cuáles son las diferencias entre los sistemas escolares turcos y holandeses?
“No hay muchas diferencias, creo. Por supuesto, algunas cosas son bastante similares. Por ejemplo, los adolescentes son simplemente adolescentes y se comportan de la misma manera en ciertos aspectos, pero los estudiantes en los Países Bajos siempre tienen la oportunidad de avanzar debido a los diferentes niveles escolares. Por lo tanto, el sistema en los Países Bajos es mejor porque esa oportunidad está disponible”. Neslihan explica que en Turquía solo hay un nivel y que cada estudiante tiene que aprender las mismas materias y hacer el mismo examen. Entonces, si este nivel es demasiado alto, no tienes otra opción para continuar estudiando, por lo que muchos jóvenes abandonan la escuela.
Otra gran diferencia es que hay poca jerarquía en los Países Bajos. “Mi director y mi líder de equipo son simplemente mis colegas. Somos vistos como iguales y tratados de la misma manera. Puedo llamarlos por su nombre. En Turquía, tienes que dirigirte a todos como señor o señora. No quiero más jerarquía en Turquía; me gustaría cambiar eso”.
¿Hay algo que te gustaría compartir?
“Me gustaría decir que todos somos personas que podemos vivir juntas; solo tienes que tener respeto por los demás. Debes tratar a todos con respeto y crear un ambiente seguro y agradable. Vinimos aquí por nuestra libertad, y Holanda nos ha dado muchos derechos. Por lo tanto, tienes que hacer algo por los Países Bajos; tienes que usar tus habilidades para ayudar aquí, para integrarte. Dar ese primer paso es fácil: saludar a tus vecinos, por ejemplo, o simplemente charlar con alguien y ser amable”.
Neslihan también quería recordar a todos que muchas personas todavía están amenazadas en Turquía o olvidadas en la cárcel. Siempre puedes hacer algo por ellas, por ejemplo, compartiendo algo en Twitter o hablando de ello.
Η Neslihan είναι πρόσφυγας από την Τουρκία που ήρθε στην Ολλανδία με τον άνδρα της και τα δύο παιδιά τους για μια καινούργια ζωή.
Τον Αύγουστο του 2018 άφησε πίσω την ζωή της στην Τουρκία και πήγε στην Ελλάδα. Εκεί έμεινε για 3 μήνες πριν φθάσει στην Ολλανδία. Έζησε με την οικογένειά της σ’ έναν ξενώνα στην περιοχή Amstelveen για αρκετά χρόνια. Έζησε με την οικογένεια της για 19 μήνες σε διάφορα κέντρα ασύλου της Ολλανδίας. Όπως λέει η ίδια: ”Ξέρω την Ολλανδία καλύτερα από τον μέσο Ολλανδό”.
Στην Τουρκία η Neslihan εργαζόταν ως δασκάλα χημείας, φυσικής και βιολογίας. Ήταν πρόθυμη να διδάξει ξανά, όταν ήρθε στην Ολλανδία. Ευτυχώς, το να βρει δουλειά δεν ήταν δύσκολο. Μέσα από το πρόγραμμα ”Statushouders voor de Klas project” έμαθε πώς λειτουργεί το εκπαιδευτικό σύστημα της Ολλανδίας, κάτι που την βοήθησε να κάνει κάπου πρακτική. Επίσης, εργάστηκε ως εθελόντρια σ’ ένα σχολείο. Εκεί ήταν τεχνική βοηθός δασκάλου στο λύκειο Apollo στο Άμστερνταμ. Στο ίδιο σχολείο μπόρεσε να εξελιχθεί και μετά από λίγο της επετράπη να δουλεύει 2 ημέρες την βδομάδα. Τον επόμενο χρόνο μπορούσε να διδάξει και δεν ήταν πια βοηθός.
Γιατί αποφασίσατε να γίνετε δασκάλα εκείνη την περίοδο;
«Διασκεδάζω διδάσκοντας, δεν το βλέπω σαν δουλειά, επειδή είναι ένα πάθος για μένα». Διδάσκει εδώ και 18 χρόνια και ακόμα και τώρα το διασκεδάζει. Μόλις τελείωσε τις σπουδές της, άρχισε να διδάσκει αμέσως. Επέλεξε να γίνει καθηγήτρια χημείας, φυσικής και βιολογίας, επειδή είχε τους υψηλότερους βαθμούς σ’ αυτά τα 3 μαθήματα και τα έβρισκε ενδιαφέροντα.
Γιατί αποφασίσατε να έρθετε στην Ολλανδία;
«Διαβάζαμε στο Ίντερνετ και στα νέα και ακούγαμε συχνά ότι στην Ολλανδία οι άνθρωποι είναι ελεύθεροι να μοιράζονται την γνώμη τους ή τις ιδέες τους. Δυστυχώς, αυτό δεν ισχύει στην Τουρκία, όπου δεν είσαι ελεύθερος και δεν μπορείς να πεις αυτό που θέλεις. Ακόμα και τα παιδιά πηγαίνουν συχνά στη φυλακή, επειδή λένε την άποψή τους». Εξαιτίας αυτού, ο αδερφός και η αδερφή της Neslihan ήρθαν επίσης στην Ολλανδία με τις οικογένειές τους. Η Neslihan βλέπει πλέον την οικογένειά της κάθε βδομάδα.
Ποιες δυσκολίες αντιμετωπίσατε, όταν ήρθατε στην Ολλανδία;
Η Neslihan είναι πολιτικός πρόσφυγας και θεωρείται τρομοκράτης στην χώρα της λόγω των απόψεων της. Με όλη την οικογένεια της έφυγε από την Τουρκία με βάρκα. Το ταξίδι προς την Ολλανδία δεν ήταν εύκολο. Έπρεπε να δώσει πολλά χρήματα και να διαπραγματευθεί με εμπόρους, κάτι που ήταν αρκετά επικίνδυνο.
Επίσης, η Neslihan ήθελε να μάθει Ολλανδικά, κάτι που ήταν ιδιαίτερα δύσκολο στην αρχή. Επειδή τότε δεν ήταν υποχρεωμένη να ενταχθεί, δεν μπορούσε να παρακολουθήσει δωρεάν μαθήματα της ολλανδικής, όσο βρισκόταν στο κέντρο ασύλου. Παρ’ όλα αυτά, έμαθε λίγα ολλανδικά από κάποιους φίλους και εθελοντές στο κέντρο ασύλου. Γι’ αυτό, είναι πολύ ευγνώμων. Η Neslihan ήθελε να ενσωματωθεί και να αφομοιωθεί, οπότε η κατανόηση της γλώσσας ήταν κάτι βασικό γι’ αυτή. Μετά από πολλή προσπάθεια, μπόρεσε να δανειστεί χρήματα και να παρακολουθήσει μαθήματα.
Κάποιες φορές ακόμα έχει πρόβλημα με την ολλανδική γλώσσα, ειδικά το er με τις διαφορετικές προθέσεις το βρίσκει δύσκολο. Επιπλέον, ακόμα δεν καταλαβαίνει κάποιες εκφράσεις στα ολλανδικά, αλλά πιστεύει ότι στο τέλος θα τα καταφέρει.
Ποιες είναι οι διαφορές ανάμεσα στο τουρκικό και στο ολλανδικό εκπαιδευτικό σύστημα;
«Δεν υπάρχουν πολλές διαφορές, πιστεύω. Φυσικά, σε κάποια σημεία υπάρχουν ομοιότητες. Για παράδειγμα, οι έφηβοι είναι έφηβοι και συμπεριφέρονται με συγκεκριμένο τρόπο, αλλά οι μαθητές στην Ολλανδία πάντα έχουν την ευκαιρία να συνεχίσουν εξαιτίας των διαφορετικών επιπέδων στα σχολεία. Επομένως, το σύστημα στην Ολλανδία είναι καλύτερο, επειδή δίνει ευκαιρίες». Η Neslihan εξηγεί ότι στην Τουρκία υπάρχει μόνο ένα επίπεδο και όλοι οι μαθητές πρέπει να μάθουν τα ίδια και να δώσουν τις ίδιες εξετάσεις. Έτσι, αν το επίπεδο είναι πάρα πολύ υψηλό, δεν έχεις άλλη επιλογή να συνεχίσεις τις σπουδές σου, κάτι που εξηγεί γιατί πολλοί νέοι παρατάνε το σχολείο.
Μια άλλη μεγάλη διαφορά είναι ότι δεν υπάρχει ιεραρχία στην Ολλανδία. «Ο διευθυντής μου και ο επικεφαλής της ομάδας μου είναι απλώς συνάδελφοί μου. Είμαστε το ίδιο και αντιμετωπιζόμαστε το ίδιο. Μπορώ να τους μιλήσω με το όνομά τους. Στην Τουρκία πρέπει να αποκαλείς κάποιον ή κάποια κύριο ή κυρία. Δεν θέλω άλλη την ιεραρχία στην Τουρκία. Θα ήθελα να αλλάξει αυτό».
Θα θέλατε να μοιραστείτε κάτι;
«Θα ήθελα να πω ότι όλοι είμαστε άνθρωποι που μπορούμε να συνυπάρξουμε, πρέπει να σέβεται ο ένας τον άλλο. Πρέπει να αντιμετωπίζεις τον άλλο με σεβασμό και να δημιουργείς μια ασφαλή και ωραία ατμόσφαιρα. Ήρθαμε εδώ για την ελευθερία μας και η Ολλανδία μας έδωσε πολλά δικαιώματα. Επομένως, πρέπει να κάνεις κάτι για την Ολλανδία, πρέπει να χρησιμοποιήσεις τις ικανότητες σου για να βοηθήσεις εδώ, να ενσωματωθείς. Το πρώτο βήμα είναι εύκολο: να χαιρετάς τους γείτονες σου ,να μιλάς με κάποιον και να είσαι καλός».
Η Neslihan ήθελε να υπενθυμίσει σε όλους ότι πολλοί άνθρωποι απειλούνται ακόμα στην Τουρκία ή είναι ξεχασμένοι στη φυλακή. Πάντα μπορείς να κάνεις κάτι για αυτούς, για παράδειγμα να μοιραστείς κάτι στο Twitter ή να μιλήσεις γι’ αυτό.
Neslihan est une réfugiée de Turquie qui est venue aux Pays-Bas pour construire une nouvelle vie avec son mari et ses deux enfants.
En août 2018, Neslihan a laissé derrière elle sa vie en Turquie et s’est réfugiée en Grèce. Elle y a passé trois mois avant de venir aux Pays-Bas. Elle a vécu avec sa famille dans un logement social à Amstelveen pendant quelques années. Elle a vécu avec sa famille pendant 19 mois dans différents centres d’hébergement d’urgence (AZC) à travers les Pays-Bas. “Je connais les Pays-Bas mieux qu’un Néerlandais ordinaire”, affirme Neslihan.
En Turquie, Neslihan a longtemps travaillé comme professeur de chimie, de physique et de biologie. Elle était impatiente de recommencer à enseigner lorsqu’elle est arrivée aux Pays-Bas. Heureusement, il n’a pas été difficile de trouver un emploi. Grâce au projet “Statushouders voor de Klas”, elle a appris le fonctionnement du système scolaire néerlandais, ce qui lui a permis de décrocher un stage. En outre, Neslihan a travaillé comme bénévole dans une école. Elle a travaillé comme assistante technique au lycée Apollo d’Amsterdam. Dans cette même école, elle a pu évoluer et, après un certain temps, elle a été autorisée à enseigner deux jours par semaine. L’année suivante, elle ne travaillera plus qu’en tant qu’assistante, mais en tant qu’enseignante.
Pourquoi avez-vous décidé de devenir enseignante à l’époque ?
“J’aime enseigner ; je ne vois pas cela comme un travail, car c’est une passion pour moi.” Cela fait maintenant 18 ans qu’elle enseigne et elle aime toujours autant son métier. Après avoir terminé ses études, elle a tout de suite commencé à enseigner. Elle a choisi d’enseigner la chimie, la physique et la biologie parce qu’elle avait les meilleures notes dans ces trois matières et qu’elle les trouvait amusantes.
Pourquoi avez-vous décidé de venir aux Pays-Bas ?
“Nous avons lu sur Internet et dans les journaux et nous avons souvent entendu dire qu’aux Pays-Bas, les gens sont libres et peuvent partager leurs opinions ou leurs idées. Malheureusement, ce n’est pas le cas en Turquie, où l’on n’est pas libre et où l’on ne peut pas dire ce que l’on veut. Même les enfants vont souvent en prison pour avoir révélé leurs opinions”. Pour cette raison, le frère et la sœur de Neslihan sont également venus aux Pays-Bas avec leur famille. Neslihan voit sa famille chaque semaine.
Quelles difficultés avez-vous rencontrées en arrivant aux Pays-Bas ?
Neslihan est une réfugiée politique et elle était considérée comme une terroriste dans son propre pays en raison de ses opinions. Avec toute sa famille, elle a dû fuir la Turquie par bateau. Le voyage jusqu’aux Pays-Bas a été éprouvant. Elle a dû payer beaucoup d’argent et négocier avec des passeurs, ce qui peut être très dangereux.
En outre, Neslihan voulait apprendre le néerlandais, ce qui s’est avéré assez difficile au début. Comme elle n’était pas obligée de s’intégrer à l’époque, elle n’a pas pu suivre de cours de néerlandais gratuits pendant son séjour à l’AZC. Elle a toutefois appris quelques notions de néerlandais grâce à des amis et des bénévoles de l’AZC. Elle en est très reconnaissante. Neslihan voulait s’intégrer et s’assimiler, et sa compréhension de la langue était donc fondamentale. Après une longue lutte, elle a finalement réussi à emprunter de l’argent, ce qui lui a permis de participer à un cours.
De temps en temps, elle a encore des difficultés avec la langue néerlandaise, en particulier avec le “er” et les différentes prépositions qu’elle trouve difficiles. En outre, elle ne comprend pas encore certaines expressions néerlandaises, mais elle pense que cela finira par s’arranger.
Quelles sont les différences entre les systèmes scolaires turc et néerlandais ?
“À mon avis, il n’y a pas tant de différences. Bien sûr, certaines choses sont assez similaires. Par exemple, les adolescents ne sont que des adolescents et se comportent de la même manière à certains égards, mais aux Pays-Bas, les élèves ont toujours la possibilité de passer à un autre niveau grâce aux différents niveaux scolaires. Par conséquent, le système néerlandais est mieux, car cette opportunité leur est offerte”.
Neslihan explique qu’en Turquie, il n’y a qu’un seul niveau et que chaque élève doit apprendre les mêmes matières et passer le même examen. Si le niveau est trop élevé, il n’y a pas d’autre possibilité de continuer à étudier, ce qui explique pourquoi de nombreux jeunes abandonnent l’école.
Une autre grande différence est qu’il y a peu de hiérarchie aux Pays-Bas. “Mon directeur et mon chef d’équipe sont simplement mes collègues. Nous sommes considérés et traités de la même manière. Je peux les appeler par leur nom. En Turquie, il faut s’adresser à tout le monde par monsieur ou madame. Je ne veux plus de hiérarchie en Turquie ; j’aimerais que cela change”.
Y a-t-il quelque chose que vous aimeriez partager ?
“J’aimerais dire que nous sommes tous des personnes qui peuvent vivre ensemble ; il suffit de se respecter les uns les autres. Il faut traiter tout le monde avec respect et créer une atmosphère sûre et plaisante. Nous sommes venus ici pour notre liberté et la Hollande nous a donné de nombreux droits. Par conséquent, vous devez faire quelque chose pour les Pays-Bas ; vous devez utiliser vos compétences pour aider le pays et vous intégrer. Le premier pas est facile à faire : dire bonjour à ses voisins, par exemple, ou simplement discuter avec quelqu’un et être gentil.”
Neslihan tient également à rappeler que de nombreuses personnes sont encore menacées en Turquie ou oubliées en prison. Vous pouvez toujours faire quelque chose pour eux, par exemple en partageant quelque chose sur Twitter ou en en parlant.
Education is a basic human right and tool that can transform individuals’ lives and yield more significant societal change. Education empowers, enlightens, and gives protection. Maybe not everyone is fond of the traditional schooling system of their own country, but no one can deny the power of learning – and this is what we should stand for. So, useful or not, knowledge should still be easier to access. Those who want to learn should be able to do so, especially in this era of digitalization, where many valuable teaching and learning tools can now be stored and accessed on the internet. The developed world can boast about parents waking their younger kids, preparing and taking them to daycare. Older kids and teenagers eagerly enter through the gates of their educational institutions in their parents’ cars or their school buses with beaming smiles on their faces.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, school is where refugees are offered a second opportunity. Failure to make this opportunity available to refugees will be an absolute denial of the chance to acquire the requisite knowledge and skills, which will be a springboard for their future development. Pathetic enough, it appears education is only a privilege in some parts of the world. The situation is worse in conflict areas where the conditions for providing education are incredibly challenging. There are 75 million children living in places devastated by violence, which means that educational institutions are under attack, and students and teachers get hurt. In many refugee camps, there is no daycare. There are no schools or other educational institutions, let alone universities. Some people in these parts do not even know that such establishments exist. The chances for learning are slim, and education is consistently dwindling now and then, with the illiteracy rate skyrocketing. According to the UN Refugee Agency report from August 2019, about 3.7 million refugee children do not attend school. The statistics from the UNHCR indicate that as of August of last year, only 24 % of refugee children were enrolled in secondary school, while scarcely 3 % attended university.
The gross decline in the drop out of school by refugee children could be a result of the lack of funding for refugee education. In many refugee camps, the basic infrastructure needed to support schooling are readily unavailable because of the lack of funding from central and local governments, private sector individuals, civil society organizations and NGOs, churches etc.
Moreover, for many refugees, their survival is their principal concern. Focus on education will only be futile for some refugees because their minds are not mentally and psychologically psyched enough to take the academic burden that may set in when they enroll in schools. Hence, access to education is often overlooked and seen as a secondary matter, and its importance is degraded. The displacement of refugees usually lasts from 10 to 20 years. In a worst-case scenario, this can lead to a 20-year-old or older person without any education or the will to pursue it. It often shows that age is a massive barrier to pursuing education, especially elementary. The older people get, the less confidence they have in themselves regarding learning. Even in instances where these refugees defy the odds and make it a point to still go to school, the chances of going far and getting into university or college are so slim.
As said by Gandhi, there is a need for greater investment in refugee education to ensure that children who are victims of such circumstances do not just have their future shattered but will get the chance to be educated and make meaningful contributions to society. This implies that educating refugee children does not result in any ‘instant’ benefit. It does not provide shelter, nor does it feed hungry mouths. But it brings hope and gives purpose, drawing these children toward a better and fulfilled future. In many countries, educating refugees is daunting as they are frequently stationed in parts where the countries in question struggle with educating their citizens. Still, some refugee camps offer basic schooling. It may not be of the most excellent quality, but it helps ignite interest in learning. Studying can provide a daily structure, which is of high importance in the misplaced life of a refugee child. Many of them are alone, not accompanied by their families, and learning in classes with other children provides foundations for further education and the comforting company of others.
It is important to note that not only is the inclusion of refugee children into the school system a critical issue, but also for the greater good of society. This suffices to say that the inclusion of refugee children into the school should not be limited to just some unofficial parallel schools, but rather the recognized national education system as this will give them a chance to follow a formal, recognized curriculum through pre-primary, primary and secondary school. This will provide them with the credentials that will allow them to pursue higher education or more technical training. Education gives children a sense of normality and teaches them about life outside of their current, vulnerable environment. One of the education briefs of the UNHCR stated that “Educated children and youth stand a greater chance of becoming adults who can participate effectively in civil society in all contexts.” Going to school allows easier integration into the new environment. The approach to educating refugees will be more impactful and rewarding than ever. Turkey, for instance, provides Turkish language training to help refugees integrate more quickly. Children feel more secure going to school if they at least understand the language basics. They can better follow the lessons and feel included and like they belong.
There have been more substantial improvements in the situation than years ago. However, there is still room for bettering the situation. We cannot anticipate any significant change if we do not strive to improve the world in every way possible. Governments across the globe can contribute to making the situation better. Private individuals, churches, and societies who wish to make the world a better place can also donate to many nonprofit organizations to make better the condition of refugee children and reduce the steep decline in the dropout. Also, there are a lot of people who leave their comfortable homes and nations in order to aid and educate young children who have probably never even seen a book in their lives, and such individuals deserve the support of the world in such a great course.
Neslihan ni mkimbizi kutoka Uturuki ambaye alikuja Uholanzi ili kujenga maisha mapya na mumewe na watoto wao wawili.
Mwezi Agosti 2018, Neslihan aliacha maisha yake Uturuki nyuma na kukimbia Ugiriki. Alikuwa huko kwa miezi mitatu kabla ya kuja Uholanzi. Amekuwa akiishi na familia yake katika nyumba za kijamii huko Amstelveen kwa miaka kadhaa. Aliishi na familia yake kwa muda wa miezi 19 katika vituo tofauti vya mapokezi ya wakimbizi (AZCs) nchini Uholanzi. “Ninajua Uholanzi vizuri zaidi kuliko Mholanzi wa kawaida,” anasema Neslihan.
Uturuki, Neslihan alikuwa amefanya kazi kama mwalimu wa kemia, fizikia, na biolojia kwa muda mrefu. Alikuwa na hamu ya kuanza kufundisha tena alipokuja Uholanzi. Bahati nzuri, kupata kazi haikuwa ngumu. Kupitia mradi wa “Statushouders voor de Klas”, alifundishwa jinsi mfumo wa shule ya Kiholanzi unavyofanya kazi, ambayo hatimaye ilimsaidia kupata mafunzo kazini. Aidha, Neslihan amefanya kazi kama mtoa huduma wa kujitolea katika shule. Huko alikuwa akifanya kazi kama msaidizi wa ufundishaji wa kiufundi katika shule ya upili ya Apollo huko Amsterdam. Katika shule hiyo hiyo, alikuwa na fursa ya kukua na baada ya muda, aliruhusiwa pia kufundisha siku mbili kwa wiki. Mwaka ujao atafundisha tu na hatafanya kazi tena kama msaidizi.
Kwa nini uliamua kuwa mwalimu wakati huo?
“Ninapenda kufundisha; Sioni hiyo kama kazi kwa sababu ni shauku yangu.” Amesoma kwa miaka 18 sasa na bado anafurahia sana. Baada ya kumaliza elimu yake, alianza kufundisha mara moja. Aliamua kuwa mwalimu wa kemia, fizikia, na biolojia kwa sababu alikuwa na alama za juu katika somo hizo tatu na aliziona kuwa mada za kufurahisha.
Kwa nini uliamua kuja Uholanzi?
“Tulisoma kwenye mtandao na habari na mara nyingi tulisikia kwamba Uholanzi, watu ni huru na wanaweza kushiriki maoni au mawazo yao. Kwa bahati mbaya, hii sio kesi nchini Uturuki, ambapo huwa huru na huwezi kusema unachotaka. Hata watoto mara nyingi wanakwenda gerezani kwa kufichua maoni yao”. Kwa sababu hii, ndugu na dada wa Neslihan pia walikuja Uholanzi na familia zao. Neslihan anawaona familia yake kila wiki.
Ulikabiliana na changamoto gani ulipofika Uholanzi?
Neslihan ni mkimbizi wa kisiasa na alikuwa akichukuliwa kama mtu wa kigaidi katika nchi yake kutokana na maoni yake. Pamoja na familia yake nzima, alilazimika kukimbia Uturuki kwa boti. Safari ya kufika Uholanzi ilikuwa ngumu. Alikuwa na kulipa fedha nyingi na kujadiliana na wasafirishaji wa watu, ambayo inaweza kuwa hatari sana.
Mbali na hayo, Neslihan alitaka kujifunza Kiholanzi; hii ilikuwa ngumu sana mwanzoni. Kwa sababu hakulazimika kujiunga wakati huo, hakuweza kuhudhuria kozi ya bure ya lugha ya Kiholanzi wakati wa kuishi kwake katika vituo vya mapokezi ya wakimbizi. Hata hivyo, aliweza kujifunza Kiholanzi kidogo kutoka kwa marafiki na wafanyakazi wa kujitolea katika vituo hivyo. Kwa hilo, anashukuru sana. Neslihan alitaka kujiunga na kufyonza tamaduni, kwa hivyo ufahamu wake wa lugha ulikuwa muhimu. Baada ya mapambano marefu, hatimaye alifanikiwa kukopa pesa ambazo alitumia kwa kozi.
Marafiki na wafanyakazi wa kujitolea katika AZC. Kwa hili, anashukuru sana. Neslihan alitaka kujiunga na kufyonza tamaduni, kwa hivyo ufahamu wake wa lugha ulikuwa muhimu. Baada ya mapambano marefu, hatimaye alifanikiwa kukopa pesa ambazo alitumia kwa kozi.
Kwa mara chache bado ana shida na lugha ya Kiholanzi, hasa ‘er’ na viambishi mbalimbali ambavyo anavipata vigumu. Aidha, bado haelewi baadhi ya mafumbo ya Kiholanzi, lakini anaamini kwamba hatimaye itatengemaa.
Je, kuna tofauti kati ya mfumo wa shule wa Uturuki na Uholanzi?
“Hakuna tofauti nyingi, nadhani. Bila shaka, mambo fulani ni sawa kabisa. Kwa mfano, vijana ni vijana tu na wanajitahidi kwa njia zinazofanana, lakini wanafunzi nchini Uholanzi wana fursa ya kuendelea kutokana na viwango tofauti vya shule. Kwa hivyo, mfumo wa Uholanzi ni bora kwa sababu fursa hiyo ipo.” Neslihan anaelezea kwamba nchini Uturuki, kuna kiwango kimoja tu na kila mwanafunzi lazima ajifunze masomo sawa na kufanya mtihani sawa. Kwa hiyo, ikiwa kiwango hiki ni kigumu sana, huna chaguo lingine la kuendelea kusoma, ndiyo maana vijana wengi wanakatisha masomo.
Tofauti nyingine kubwa ni kwamba kuna mamlaka kidogo nchini Uholanzi. “Mkurugenzi wangu na kiongozi wangu wa timu ni wenzangu tu. Tunachukuliwa kama sawa na kutendewa kwa njia ile ile. Nawaweza kuwaita kwa majina yao. Uturuki, lazima umwite kila mtu bwana au bibi. Sipendi kuwa na mamlaka zaidi nchini Uturuki; ningependa kubadilisha hilo”.
Je, kuna kitu chochote unachotaka kushiriki?
“Ningependa kusema kwamba sote ni binadamu ambao tunaweza kuishi pamoja; unapaswa tu kuwa na heshima kwa wengine. Lazima umtendee kila mtu kwa heshima na kuunda mazingira salama na mazuri. Tulikuja hapa kwa uhuru wetu, na Uholanzi imetupa haki nyingi. Kwa hiyo, lazima ufanye kitu kwa ajili ya Uholanzi; lazima utumie ujuzi wako kusaidia hapa, kujumuika. Kuchukua hatua ya kwanza ni rahisi: kusema “jambo” kwa majirani zako, kwa mfano, au tu kuzungumza na mtu na kuwa mwenye heshima.”
Neslihan pia alitaka kukumbusha kila mtu kwamba wengi bado wanatishiwa nchini Uturuki au wameachwa gerezani. Unaweza daima kufanya kitu kwa ajili yao, kwa mfano, kwa kushiriki kitu kwenye Twitter au kuzungumza juu yake.
Imetafsiriwa na Joseph Kamanga kutoka kwa asili https://brokenchalk.org/story-of-neslihan-ozcan-sahin-after-all-her-struggle-a-refugee-teacher-begins-to-teach-again/