Educational Well-Being of Syrian Refugee Children in Public Schools: A Qualitative Study in Istanbul

Simla Serim
Bogazici University the Graduate Program in Social Policy
Graduation Date: 
Serra Müderrisoğlu
Educational Well-Being of Syrian Refugee Children in Public Schools: A Qualitative Study in Istanbul

Starting from 2011, Turkey has been putting forth crucial efforts towards the education of Syrian refugee children. With the 2014 regulations, the Turkish government has made the decision to include Syrian students in public schools and phase out temporary education centers (TEC). This thesis explores the Syrian refugee children’s perspectives and interpretations on their education in the light of child well-being perspective. Konu and Rimpela’s (2002) “School Well-being Model” is used as an analytical framework in this study. In-depth semi-structured interviews were carried out with 12 Turkish-speaking Syrian children strongly supported by humanitarian organizations and recruited through a refugee community center located in Sultanbeyli, Istanbul. The findings of the research reveal that children are highly motivated to get an education and very eager to learning. Despite the children’s high motivation to be successful in education, they are placed in a highly-supported environment and their intense psychological investments towards education, the thesis demonstrates that they still face serious difficulties in the Turkish education system that negatively affect their school adjustments and well-being in education. Disadvantaged position in the education to due language barrier, perceived unfair measurement, and evaluation systems, fear of losing their fluency in their mother tongue, discrimination and exclusion occurred in their vertical and horizontal relationships in school are the recurrent themes in children’s subjective experiences. Thus, this thesis concludes that comprehensive and inclusionary social and education policies have to be developed by taking into account Syrian children’s capabilities, actual needs and their sense of fairness in education.