The study focused on the strategies Turkish teachers and the government were using to help refugee students adapt. It found that most Turkish teachers have a problem communicating with refugee students because of the language barrier. Teachers also had difficulties evaluating Syrian students’ achievement because of their lack of experience in dealing with psychological trauma.
Sarmini said that teachers “used body language to communicate with students, and sometimes asked students who speak Turkish to translate for their colleagues and to test their colleagues’ educational level.”
If the Turkish government provides support programmes, the study recommends improving Syrian students’ proficiency in Turkish for one or two years before enrolling them in schools. It also recommends that the number of Syrian students should not exceed 20 percent of the total enrollment in any school.
The study also recommends motivating Turkish teachers to interact more with their Syrian students. It suggests holding joint activities between Syrian and Turkish families, to help integrate Syrian refugees into Turkish society and help Syrian mothers find jobs.
Refugees’ Psychological Problems
Early in the war that has ravaged Syria for nearly 11 years, Turkey welcomed Syrian refugees and allowed them to establish private schools. But as the conflict continued and refugee numbers grew, Ankara decided to integrate refugee students into Turkish public schools.
To understand the effects of this transition on Syrian students, Rida Anis, an assistant professor of English at Hassan Kalyoncu University, in Gaziantep, and colleagues conducted a study of the students’ psychosocial needs. The study involved 23 interviews with students of both sexes, parents, teachers, and school administrators.
Anis told Al-Fanar Media that Syrians form 22 percent of the population of Gaziantep but do not have the financial resources available to Turks. “The shift of Syrian students to public schools was catastrophic,” she said.
“There are different aspects to the problem for students and their families. The main ones are the psychological and social impact of being ignored, rejected, bullied, or discriminated against at schools. This has increased the dropout rates among males.”