Among children whose development is at risk in Turkey, Syrian refugee children constitute a significant number. Yet, based on UNICEF estimates, among 860,000 school aged Syrian refugee children in Turkey, only 490,000 are registered to a school.
In other words, an estimated 370,000 children are out of school-many of whom when they do enroll are unprepared, rendering them unable to benefit from public schooling or are at risk of dropping out. Thus, there is an urgent need for programs supporting Syrian children’s school readiness by addressing their language, cultural, and psychosocial needs.
This challenge has given ACEV the impetus to address areas with low access to early childhood education so these children have a fighting chance to succeed. We implemented the pilot phase of our Summer Preschool Program in Istanbul’s Esenler district to ensure Syrian refugee children begin Turkish primary schooling developmentally prepared, in collaboration with the Istanbul Provincial Directorate of National Education and with the generous support of Siemens Turkey and Plan International. Our project experiences and lessons learned are compiled in a report entitled “Summer Preschools for Syrian Refugees: A Practitioner’s Guide for Improving the School Readiness”.