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Press Centre (2/2018)

Protection through Education for children in Turkey

All Photos: UNICEF/Turkey/2017/RICH


Turkey is hosting the highest number of refugees in the world. 3.4 million of them are Syrian refugees and 1.5 million of them are children. Even though this high number is putting an enormous strain on the country’s basic services and infrastructure; over 610,000 children are now enrolled in school. Furthermore, 320,000 refugee children have benefitted from the Conditional Cash Transfer for Education Programme.

The Conditional Cash Transfer for Education(CCTE) Programme aims to encourage enrolment and improve school attendance of the most vulnerable children. The programme is a national social assistance programme which has been implemented by the Ministry Family and Social Policies since 2003. In early 2017 it was extended to Syrian and other refugee families and is being implemented through a close partnership between the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, the Ministry of National Education, the Turkish Red Crescent and UNICEF. 

The extension of the programme has been made possible by the generous support of the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), and is also supported by the Governments of Norway and the United States of America.


CCTEprogramme has 2 components: cash transfer and child protection outreach services. The cash transfer component provides families with cash assistance for education of their children on the condition that the child has attended school regularly.

The child protection component ensures the follow-up of the most vulnerable children and their referral to complementary child protection services as required.This component is being implemented in 15 provinces with the goal of reaching 49,600 children by June 2018. This component is implemented by outreach teams consisting of social workers, psychologists, and translators working in the field. The outreach teams visit families whose children’s attendance rate does not meet or is at risk of not meeting the CCTE conditions. 

Batoul (13) and Bushra (16) are two Syrian sisters, who have recently been visited at their home by the child protection teams in Ankara. They have been living for four years in Turkey, with their parents and two older brothers. The girls attend school and benefit from the CCTE. Their father is an electrical engineer but he is not working. He explained that the cash support helps the two girls to continue school in Altındağ, Ankara. The outreach case workers have visited the family and discussed the value of education for girls. Following the visit, as requested by the family, the child protection workers referred them to the TRC Community Centre. The family said they are happy and grateful for the attentiveness of the team, including the visits to their home and the cash assistance. The father shares on every occasion that her daughters constantly make him very proud at school. 

The Child Protection component of the CCTE programme for refugee children complements the impact of the cash component. Outreach teams support the children and their families in dealing with different risks and vulnerabilities they face. For some families, this means to have support in registering with the migration services or accessing basic social services such as health, education and social assistance. For other families, it means outreach teams are collaborating with the Ministry of Family and Social Policies’ social workers to address child protection risks such as child marriage, child labour, violence and exploitation. 

CCTE programme is ensuring that more vulnerable children and their families are better protected from potential harms and risks. TRC case workers also connect families to the TRC Community Centres where they can access a broad range of services, from health appointments and psychosocial support to guidance services, vocational and language training, as well as social integration activities.

TRC staff Rami Koçak said: “There are specialized services for these vulnerable children and their families. Our job is to identify the ones who need support and connect them with these services so that the child can attend his/her school regularly. We try to assist those families and remove the barriers for keeping them in school.” 

The extension of the CCTE programme to refugee children is an excellent example of putting national social protection systems, expertise and actors at the centre of the response to protracted humanitarian crises.

Together with the Government of Turkey and partners, UNICEF is building upon the healing power of education, allowing children to be children again and offering opportunities to prevent the loss of an entire generation of Syrian children.

UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org