Looking Through the Multicultural Glass: Re-Examination of Syrian Refugee Children Education in Turkey

Melike Ünal Gezer

Abstract


Turkey presents a unique picture as the host of the highest number of Syrian refugees after the outbreak of civil war in Syria in 2011. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2018), Turkey has more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees half of whom are school-aged children. These children have limited access to their basic human right: receiving quality education. Fewer than half of approximately one million school aged (ages 5 to 18) Syrian refugee children could receive regular education services in Turkey (Directorate General of Immigration Affairs, 2016). Turkey welcomed a large number of Syrian refugees without taking necessary steps in its education system. Embracing cultural diversity via multiculturalism, and multilingual education, one needs to direct the attention of the audience to the long-term struggle of refugee children in Turkish education system and draw a conceptual framework for quality education and excellence in teacher education. The present paper is an attempt to highlight the role of multicultural education; more specifically through the lens of multicultural literacy practices. Highlighting the contributions of various genres of different ethnic and racial backgrounds such as songs, poetry, fiction, (auto)biographies, multicultural literacy could increase cultural awareness and understanding of pupils, teachers, administrators and the communities, and could help establish enriching learning experiences for Turkish and Syrian children. Multicultural literature provides a meaningful platform affirming differences and showing cultural connections, revealing social issues, necessitating action against injustice, and embracing diverse cultures. When implemented with care, multicultural literacy could increase academic achievement of ethnic minority and at-risk students, heighten cultural awareness and understanding of all students, and provide meaningful learning opportunities for all. The present paper aims to delve into the relationship among English as a lingua franca, Syrian refugee children education, and the theoretical underpinning of multicultural and multi-ethnic education in relation to English language instruction in Turkey.


Keywords


English as a lingua franca; refugee children; Syrian; multicultural education; ELF

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Eurasian Journal of Applied Linguistics

ISSN 2149­-1135
Copyright © Eurasian Journal of Applied Linguistics

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