31 SES 08 B, Language policies and ideologies
Refugees, internally displaced people, and asylum seekers constitute the most vulnerable group whose inclusion into the national education systems has utmost importance. Turkey which hosts the highest number of Syrian displaced people, attempts to ensure the access of Syrian children to education through Temporary Education Centres (TECs) and Turkish public schools (Department of Migration and Emergency Education [DMEE], 2018; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR], 2017a). TECs, which have been established in areas where there are high concentrations of Syrian people, provide primary and secondary educational services to low-proficient Syrian students in the Turkish language by offering instruction in Arabic and utilizing a modified form of the Syrian curriculum (UNHCR, 2017b). The Turkish Ministry of National Education (MNE) announced a roadmap in 2016 to take necessary steps with special emphasis on the Turkish language acquisition and rapid transition to public schools (MNE, 2016). As of December 2017, the deliberate efforts of policymakers have yielded promising results by increasing the enrolment rates of Syrian children from 30.42% in 2014 to 61.95% accounting for 604,779 registered students. Whereas 37.94% of these students are still educated at TECs, 62.06% are registered at Turkish formal schools (DMEE, 2018).
The efforts to place Syrian children into Turkish education system has brought about challenges varying from infrastructural problems to pedagogical issues. The literature revealed that language poses the most significant barrier in transition to Turkish public schools (Human Rights Watch [HRW], 2015; Kesici & Baloğlu, 2017; Levent & Çayak, 2017). Students migrating from Syria are reported to have various levels of literacy in Arabic and almost no prior exposure to Turkish language (Education Reform Initiative, 2017; HRW, 2015). Despite the fact that the Article 42 in the Constitution of Turkish Republic clearly mandates Turkish as the official medium of instruction, it also allows provision of education in other languages to be determined by law. Furthermore, the Law on the Teaching and Education of Foreign Languages (No: 2329), and the regulation on the Education of the Children of Migrant Workers extend the possibilities of founding schools and providing courses on different languages.
Considering the legal framework and urgency of overcoming language barrier for Syrian students, the language policy may be framed around three tendencies. First and foremost, the monolingual policy can be maintained by regarding language-as-problem which aims to move students from their mother tongue to dominant language as a resolution of language-related problems (Ruíz, 1984). In this context, the language as an ideological state apparatus is utilized by powerful groups to reproduce the existing conditions, establish and maintain exploitative relationships with less powerful ones (Althusser, 1971; Ginsburg & Clayton, 2002). The second tendency conceptualizes language-as-right by focusing on the individual rights to utilize one’s language in public sphere and the right not to be subject to any discrimination due to the language (Ruíz, 1984). This orientation is considered crucial guaranteeing civil rights for linguistic minorities as implemented through bilingual polities (Gandara & Gomez, 2009). The final orientation - language-as-source - acknowledges the attainment of language and aims to raise fluent multilinguals to promote business, commerce, and international cooperation (Ruíz, 1984). The policy of the European countries’ with regard to language acquisition can be discussed within this scope (European Union, 2017).
Against the backdrop of theories on language policies, the way of appraising language policies and put into practice mean much more than a mere selection. The aim of this study is to discuss the extent of current language policy in Turkey to facilitate the access of Syrian children to educational opportunities.
Studies on refugee education, asylum-seeking and migration mostly reflect an in-depth interpretive nature of empirical research. Meta-synthesis is employed as the research design since it is accepted to be a helpful process of open up new insights and understanding qualitative research around a phenomenon (Walsh & Downe, 2004). Data sources will be in-depth scrutiny of peer-reviewed journals and reports based on empirical national data with regard to challenges experienced by Syrian students in Turkey as a result of language acquisition through a systematic search of major databases – Web of Science, Education Index, SCOPUS, Science Direct, ULAKBIM (the Turkish Academic Network and Information Centre), and CoHE Thesis Centre (the Council of Higher Education in Turkey). These studies are being reviewed under the light of international treaties and current laws in Turkey regulating the access to education and the use of language in education. The study findings are being synthesized initially through the creation of initial grid concepts that relate to our phenomenon in detail in terms of the type of education (i.e., formal and informal), year of publication, grade level, research methods/design, and the discussion of main research findings and implications. Ultimately, major themes and codes will be identified to capture cultural or contextual specific constructs until accordance between the researchers will be reached. Further analysis will be conducted through content analysis which allows to make valid inferences from text (Weber, 1990). Upon delineating the relevant literature, the sources will be categorized based on their focus as the studies investigating the challenges experienced by the Syrian children.
Overcoming language barrier with the appropriate language policy may have long-term impact on sustaining Syrian children’s regular attendance in an inclusive education environment. To this end, we expect to find out basic language barriers and challenges across grade levels experienced by teachers and students as well as revealing remedial interventions and improvement projects that have worked in individual schools and regions in Turkey. To further the study, we aim to discuss the possibility of dual language policy implementation in Turkey within the current cultural, social and political milieu. Significance Indisputably, Turkey is the top receiving country of high influxes of Syrian citizens seeking asylum. Given the high figures, they come in with diverse educational and social policy needs, especially, for the well-being of the children at schooling ages. We initiated with the assumption that our results may also contribute to discuss whether Turkish public schools may transfer and adapt an innovative approach towards their official Turkish language instruction policy to include children with different language backgrounds. Understanding the obstacles experienced by bilingual and Turkish as a second language for incoming students may also assist evaluating the MNE’s current language policy with regard to achievement rates, drop-outs, and absenteeism of students who may be identified as high-risk groups.
Althusser, L. (1971). Ideology and ideological state apparatuses (Notes towards an investigation) (B. Brewster, Trans.) Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays (pp. 127-186). New York: Monthly Review Press. Ciyer, A. (2010). Developing Inclusive Education Policies and Practices in Turkey: A Study of the Roles of UNESCO and Local Educators. (Ph.D. Thesis), Arizona State University, Arizona. Department of Migration and Emergency Education. (2018). Educational services for students under the temporary protection status. Ankara Retrieved from https://hbogm.meb.gov.tr/meb_iys_dosyalar/2018_01/15131251_15-01-2018_Ynternet_BYlteni.pdf. Education Reform Initiative. (2017). Community building through inclusive education. Retrieved from https://indd.adobe.com/view/46316e2e-5eee-4528-928a-ccff039ec51b European Union. (2017). Multilingualism. Retrieved from https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/multilingualism_en Gandara, P., & Gomez, M. C. (2009). Language Policy in Education. In G. Sykes, B. Schneider, D. N. Plank, & T. G. Ford (Eds.), Handbook of Education Policy Research (pp. 581-595): Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. Ginsburg, M. B., & Clayton, T. (2002). Imperialism and education. In D. L. Levinson, P. W. Cookson, & A. R. Sadovnik (Eds.), Education and Sociology (pp. 387-393). New York: RoutledgeFalmer. Human Rights Watch. (2015). “When I Picture My Future, I See Nothing”: Barriers to education for Syrian refugee children in Turkey. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/11/08/when-i-picture-my-future-i-see-nothing/barriers-education-syrian-refugee-children Kesici, Ş., & Baloğlu, M. (2017). Geçici Koruma Statüsündeki Bireyler [Individuals Under Temporary Protection Status]. In M. Baloğlu, E. Göv, & T. Bağrıaçık (Eds.), Geçici Koruma Statüsündeki Bireylere Yönelik Rehberlik Hizmetleri Kılavuz Kitabı [Guidebook for Individuals Under Temporary Protection Status] (pp. 72-80). Ankara: General Directorate of Special Education and Guidance Services. Levent, F., & Çayak, S. (2017). Türkiye'deki Suriyeli öğrencilerin eğitimine yönelik okul yöneticilerinin görüşleri [School administrators' views on Syrian students' education in Turkey]. Hasan Ali Yücel Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 14(27), 21-46. Ministry of National Education. (2016). Suriyeli çocukların eğitimi için yol haritası belirlendi [The roadmap was adopted for the education of Syrian children]. Retrieved from http://www.meb.gov.tr/suriyeli-cocuklarin-egitimi-icin-yol-haritasi-belirlendi/haber/11750/tr Ruíz, R. (1984). Orientations in Language Planning. NABE Journal, 8(2), 15-34. doi:10.1080/08855072.1984.10668464 UNHCR. (2017a). Left behind: Refugee education in crisis. Retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/left-behind/. UNHCR. (2017b). Refugees' right to education. Retrieved from https://data2.unhcr.org/en/documents/download/57330 Walsh, D., & Downe, S. (2004). Meta-sythesis method for qualitative research: A literature review, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 50 (2), 204-211. Weber, R. P. (1990). Basic Content Analysis. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
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