Social Policy Seminars: Towards Sustainable Language Education for Syrian Refugees: Relation between Humanitarian Assistance and Social Policy-Making in a ‘Global South’ Context

Friday, March 29, 2019 - 15:00
Konferanslar, Seminerler, Atölye Çalışmaları
Social Policy Forum
Maissam Nimer


Maissam Nimer

Towards Sustainable Language Education for Syrian Refugees: Relation between Humanitarian Assistance and Social Policy-Making in a ‘Global South’ Context


March 29 (Friday), 2019


Social Policy Forum

 (North Campus)


The influx of the Syrian population inside Turkey has amplified the need for greater Turkish language education. However, due to the perceived temporariness of Syrians’ situation, policy related to language education for Syrians has yet to be developed, and language education for this population continues to be limited. Unlike other fields in which there is already a system in place, the need to provide Turkish language education to a large number of individuals has only newly emerged. The responsibility for this service was placed under the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities state department and the Ministry of Education’s lifelong learning department, both of which receive humanitarian assistance through civil society organizations. The paper aims to contribute to the debate about the role of civil society organizations in terms of policy-making from a Global South perspective. In accordance with the findings from interviews with stakeholders in the field as well as interviews with Syrians who accessed language training, this paper presents a map of language education programs. It appears that although language education has been subjected to increased control and centralization, this has not been accompanied by the implementation of a long-term, sustainable social policy program. Rather, these efforts continue to be project-based and time- and resource-bound and the role of the State has become one of implementer of projects without ensuing policy implications. We propose that language education be defined as a public service and an integrative federal-level system, that involves the collaboration of different ministries in order to institutionalize this service, complemented by civil society organizations. This is joint work with Tuygun Oruc.


Maissam Nimer obtained a PhD in sociology at Paris Saclay University in July 2016. In her thesis, she looked at the mechanisms of social and cultural selection that explain the inequality of access to higher education in Lebanon. Nimer’s current work at Koç University deals with the integration of Syrian refugee youth in Turkey. She is the recipient of a one-year Koç University Seed Grant and a Mercator IPC fellow at Sabanci University exploring the role of language instruction in integration of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Nimer teaches a course on sociology of education at Galatasaray University in Turkey. She holds an MSc from the London School of Economics and BS from the American University of Beirut.

Social Policy Seminars are designed to bring together influential or promising researchers in social policy and the Boğaziçi University community to discuss current issues and up-to-date research findings in the field. Seminars are organised as part of the Graduate Seminar course leading to a Master of Arts degree in Social Policy. All members of the Boğaziçi University community are welcome to attend.