26 SES 01 B, Educational Leadership In The Context Of Migration, Social Justice And Vulnerable Populations
Throughout the history people immigrate to other countries due to various reasons. This can usually happen voluntarily for a better life, but they sometimes are forced to immigrate to other countries for extraordinary reasons such as war or natural disaster, For instance, more than half of the population has been displaced to the neighboring countries and Europe due to the Syrian War, the most major war of the 21st century.
Turkey is one of the neighboring countries, where 3,618,624 Syrians are leading their lives (Directorate General for Migration Management, 2018). By December 2017, UNHCR counted 1,000,000 asylum applications for Syrian refugees in the European Union. The increasing number of Syrians gets Turkish government and European Union to make some regulations on immigrants. These regulations are mostly made to provide immigrants with better life conditions in social, financial, and political terms. In order to do it, education plays a key role. Because schools enable refugee children to normalize their lives and give them hope for the future (Beste, 2015). This is being the case, for immigrant children to have a better life, it is important to ensure their access to education, and identify and solve the barriers before their education process.
Turkey has been developing some educational policies since 2014. Turkish government has taken significant steps and offered all of the Syrian children of compulsory education age and the opportunity to receive free education in public schools. After 2014, the Syrian children have had the opportunity to receive Turkish education in the public schools under the MoNE with the “foreigner identification document” and without the requirement of having a “residence permit”. With this Circular, the number of Syrian students in the Turkish Education System has been increased by years. While there were a total of 67,500 Syrian students in the Turkish Education System during the academic period of 2012-2013, this number reached to 230,000 in the academic year of 2014/2015. In the 2017-2018 academic year, the number of Syrian students reached 603,929 (General Directorate of Lifelong Learning, 2018).
Although by years there is an increase in schooling rate of Syrian immigrants, it can be said that the integration of the Syrian students to Turkish education system is still not at desired level. Currently there are 976,200 Syrians at schooling age, who are expected to enroll to school. However out of 603,929 Syrian students have already been enrolled (Schooling rate 61,87 %). Also, as the class level gets higher, there is a decline in the schooling rates (Çatar, 2017). Consequently, it is very important for Turkey and European union to enable Syrian students to integrate to education systems. In turn, this will help Syrian’s social integration to community in the future.
The aim of the study
In this context this study aims to identify the barriers for Syrian students’ integration to Turkish education system and suggest some strategies and policies in order to overcome these barriers. In line with this aim, the following questions were answered:
- According to Syrian students, what are the barriers that Syrian students have experienced as a part of integration to Turkish education system?
- To what extent do Syrian students agree with the integration barriers into Turkish Education System?
- In what ways, do survey and interview data align with one another?
According to Syrian students and school principals; what policies and strategies should be developed for Syrian students’ integration to Turkish education system?
This study is in a sequential exploratory mixed method design (Creswell & Clark, 2011). The first sub-aim of this study is to reveal barriers, Syrian students have experienced during the integration process to Turkish Education System. The qualitative study is conducted via lotus blossom technique. With this technique, the barriers on Syrian students’ integration to Turkish Education System are found out. Secondly, it aims to determine to what extent Syrian students have agreed with the integration barriers to Turkish Education System, revealed based on the qualitative study. The quantitative study is conducted by means of questionnaire. With this questionnaire, Syrian students’ views about barriers on integration to Turkish Education System are examined. At last, it aims to reveal Syrian students’ and principals’ views about possible policies and strategies in order to eliminate these barriers on integration to Turkish education system, revealed in the first and the second studies. The qualitative study is conducted separately with principals and students. For students, in order to make them express themselves more clearly the lotus blossom creative thinking technique is used. With this technique, the policies and strategies in order to eliminate the barriers on Syrian students’ integration to Turkish Education System are revealed. On the other hand, the data are collected from principals via interviews. With these interviews, principals’ views about eliminating these barriers on integration to Turkish Education System are sought. For the first qualitative study, the study group consists of 28 Syrian students. In the second quantitative study, it consists of 158 Syrian students, For the third qualitative study, it consists of 28 Syrian students and 13 principals. In this study, for each strand, different data collection tools are developed by the researchers. For the first strand, the data are collected by means of lotus blossom technique on barriers in the process of integration to Turkish education system. For the second strand, “Barriers for Syrian Students’ Integration to Turkish Education System Questionnaire” is developed and administered to Syrian students. For the last phase, the interview form is developed for principals and lotus blossom technique is used for Syrian students in order to reveal possible policy and strategies to eliminate the barriers on integration to Turkish education system. In this study, the quantitative data are analysed with SPSS program and descriptive statistics are used. The qualitative data are analysed with content analysis technique. To analyse the data, Nvivo program is used.
Syrian students have experienced various problems during their integration to Turkish education system. Within the scope of the first sub-aim of this research, according to students’ views, they have encountered such difficulties as financial problems (expensive school tuition, insufficient scholarships, have to work, expensive accommodation etc.), lack of official language knowledge, integration problems to education system (diploma accreditation, being hard to pass university entrance exam, difficult assessment and evaluation etc.), ostracism/exclusion (dealing with discrimination and bullying in schools, routing to vocational schools). The researchers developed questionnaire based on these themes, revealed in the first cycle of the study. According to second sub-aim of the study, most of the students agree on three items that “the quota for foreign students at universities is not enough (m=4,16), the cost of higher education (student fees, accommodation, transportation) is expensive (m=3,96), students do not know enough Turkish (m=3,90). Within the scope of the third sub-aim of this research, the qualitative findings are compared with quantitative ones. It has been pointed out that two researches have got parallel results. Accordingly, it is possible to say that Syrian students have such problems as financial, adaptation to education (especially Syrians’ Access to Higher Education) and language barrier while integrating to Turkish education system. In order to eliminate these barriers for Syrian students, the lotus blossom creative thinking technique is used and principals are interviewed. According to Syrian students, in order to eliminate language barrier, it requires to provide practices like private language courses/classes, to preclude discrimination and bullying at schools, and to take precautions (ensuring scholarship opportunities) for financial problems. On the other hand, school principals have suggested focusing on language learning, providing cultural adaptation opportunities for Syrians, and scholarship opportunities with Syrian students as strategies in order to eliminate these barriers.
Beste, A. (2015). Education provision for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey Preventing a “Lost Generation”. Çatar, M. (2017). Ortaöğretim çağındaki Suriyelilerin karşılaştıkları eğitim sorunlarına ilişkin görüşlerinin incelenmesi [the opinions of Syrians at secondary school age about the educational challenges they face]. Millî Eğitim Uzmanlık Tezi [Dissertation]. Creswell, J. & Plano-Clark, J. (2011). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. General Directorate of Lifelong Learning. (2018). https://hbogm.meb.gov.tr/meb_iys_dosyalar/2018_03/26120318_26-03-2018__Ynternet_BYlteni.pdf Directorate General for Migration Management. (2018). Migration statistics. Retrieved from http://www.goc.gov.tr/icerik6/gecici-koruma_363_378_4713_icerik
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