TURKEY: Gaziantep University reintroduces Arabic language instruction for Syrian students

There are currently more than 500,000 Syrians of university-going age in Turkey. However, their access to education is complicated. Due to language barriers, Syrian students face difficulties in integrating into the mainstream Turkish education system and rely on the few universities that offer Arabic language instruction. When Gaziantep University stopped offering Arabic-language classes in 2020, the options for Syrian refugees became even more limited.

When this issue was brought to JHR-Turkey’s attention, the team mobilized journalists to report on the issue. JHR trainees reached out to Gaziantep University’s leadership, including their Student Affairs head Asaad Halawani and the Arabic department head Dr Jalal Khanji, and produced air forums to raise awareness about refugees’ right to education. At the same time, JHR partner Radio Nasaem interviewed such key decision-makers as the Department of Foreign Students Affairs.

In response to this coordinated awareness-raising effort, the university reopened the registration for Arabic-speaking students in three disciplines; namely, Business Administration, Sharia Law, and Elementary Education. This change came under effect in the new school year starting September and widened access to university education for thousands of Syrian students in Turkey.

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