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Muhab’s Story: Accessing Education in Türkiye

 

August 4, 2022 • 4 min read

6-year-old Muhab and his family were forced to flee their home in Syria due to the ongoing conflict. When they first came to Türkiye, Muhab was unable to enroll at the local school because the wrong age was written on his identity card. GOAL teams are working to provide protection services to improve access to education for refugees in Türkiye, and helped open the door to education for Muhab.

Muhab is the eldest of three siblings and the last member of the family who came to Türkiye due to the challenges of the war in Syria. He had stayed with his grandparents in Hama, Syria, until 2020. His father Muhammed came to Türkiye in 2015, and his mother Emine and his little sister Leyan followed in 2019. Their youngest child, Meyas, was born in Türkiye.

Before the war started, they had a normal life in Syria. “We used to go to the movies, swimming. We had a very good life,” Muhammed says.
Muhammed left his family earlier as he was previously a police officer in Syria, and was going to be re-enlisted due to the war. “I miss my home,” says Muhammed, “and I want to see my family again. My parents and siblings are still there.”

Muhammed, his wife Emine and their 3 children Neyaz (1), Leyan (3) and Muhab (6) now live in a one-room house in Türkiye

They have experienced many economic and social challenges since coming to Türkiye. The family lost their tents in floodings in early 2022 and had to move to a single room near Muhammed’s brother. “We got through all of these problems somehow, until my son Muhab reached school age,” says Muhammed.

Accessing Education

The biggest wish of the family was for Muhab to go to school. However, on his ID, Muhab’s age indicated that he was two years too younger than his actual age, so he couldn’t enroll in school. This mistake needed to be corrected before he could access education. The family’s attempts to fix the situation did not work – until they met GOAL Türkiye’s humanitarian workers in the field.

GOAL Türkiye provided the family with legal information, translation and a lawyer. Thanks to the support of the Presidency of Migration Management (PMM) and the bar associations in Mersin, Muhab finally got his new ID with the correct age. “It was a difficult process, but eventually my son received an ID with his real age on it. He enrolled to a kindergarten half-way into the school year, and next year he will start 1st grade,” Muhammed says.

Education is a right, not a privilege, and fundamental for every child. With the door open for Muhab, he is now one step closer to his dream of becoming a doctor. This positive step made Muhab’s mother and father especially happy, as they are among the millions of Syrians who had to drop out of university due to the war.

Never Giving Up

“I was studying law at university, but the war started, and I had to leave. My wife studied Arabic literature, but she could not finish it either. Education is vital for every human being,” Muhammed says. “The most important thing for my children is education. I want all my children to have a job and be able to stand on their own feet,” adds Emine, Muhab’s mother.

GOAL Türkiye’s Protection Worker in Mersin, Hakan Duran, is delighted that he was able to help the family. “Touching people’s lives and improving their well-being gives me indescribable happiness. The family’s efforts to bring their children to education motivated me a lot in this case. Changing his age was an issue that could take years; however, the family never gave up. Thanks to the efforts we made with different Turkish authorities, we managed to help them.”

Hakan, GOAL Türkiye’s Protection Worker, in Mersin speaing with Muhab’s family

Türkiye hosts the largest number of refugees in the world – more than 4 million people. Some 3.7 million of them are Syrians who fled the ongoing war that has been ravaging their country for over 11 years. Despite the intense efforts of the Turkish government to integrate refugee children into the education system, many cannot access education due to lack of legal information. LINK is an EU-funded project implemented by GOAL Türkiye which supports refugees like Muhab in accessing essential rights and services.

Muhab kisses his mother after finishing reading the alphabet.