Teaching Syrian Students in Turkish Schools: Experiences of Teachers

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The Syrian civil war affected Turkey so much that approximately three and a half million Syrians live in Turkey. Ministry of Education implemented an inclusive approach to schooling of Syrian asylum-seekers’ children by educating them in public schools with their Turkish peers in the same classrooms in 2016 in order to address their educational needs, integration into the Turkish culture, and to prevent generation gap. Education, as a basic human right and as a way of integration into the Turkish society, is provided for free at all levels of education in Turkey. The inclusion of Syrian students in the Turkish school environment is quite a new experience for Turkish teachers and if the inclusion process is not managed properly, it may have negative effects on both students and their teachers. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of teachers teaching Syrian students in the city of Kilis, where the number of asylum-seekers outnumbered the local population and almost one-fifth of the students in public schools are Syrians. The guiding question of this research was “What are the lived experiences of primary and middle school teachers educating Syrian children in culturally inclusive classrooms?” Five teachers from four different primary and middle schools were interviewed. The six open-ended interview questions allowed the participants to reflect on their experiences. The data were collected during the spring semester of 2017. The interviews were analyzed according to thematic methods. Three themes emerged: language barrier, lack of family support, and teachers’ lack of pedagogical skills to teach asylum-seeker students.

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