Can Eminoğlu | 6 August 2021
German-funded DAFI scholarship provides support to higher education students by empowering them to contribute knowledge, skills and leadership and facilitate coexistence with host communities. Ghufran is one of them.
Ghufran remembers the day of her arrival in Turkey. For a 14-year-old teenager, everything looked different and new at first sight. Back then, all she had in mind was to be able to continue her education. “Challenges were there since the beginning,” she remembers. “But I am not here to give up.”
Ghufran was born in 1998 in Syria, and her family is from Idlib. After fleeing to Turkey in 2012, she was registered at a school nearby. Growing up in a family of engineers, she decided to follow the same path as her father and uncles: “I was going to be the first female engineer in my family. That gave me the drive.”
The DAFI programme offers refugee students the possibility to earn an undergraduate degree in their country of asylum or their home country. In Turkey, it is implemented in partnership with the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB).
Despite her family’s economic struggle in the first years, Ghufran continued with her studies. Her long-term goal was always to go to university. While preparing for the university entrance exams at her high school in Hatay, her teachers informed her about the availability of the DAFI scholarship. Having thought that this would be a great opportunity, she submitted her application: “After undergoing an interview, I was accepted to the Department of Biomedical Engineering in Tekirdağ Namık Kemal University. I was additionally told that I qualified for a DAFI scholarship. It was an unforgettable moment.”
Ghufran made a smooth start to her university life in Tekirdağ. Despite the distance from her family, she likes the city very much. Being surrounded by supportive professors keeps her concentration intact as well. This friendly environment contributed to her academic success and helped her become one of the honour students in her department. “When I feel stressed out during the examination periods, I remind myself that I will be the first female engineer of my family,” she says. “This boosts my energy.”
The DAFI scholarship is making a significant difference in Ghufran’s life. At the annual workshops of the DAFI programme, she not only attends various sessions, including leadership and career development but also socializes with fellow students who are awarded the scholarship. Without taking additional support from her family, she can meet her living cost each month. Her allowance even helps her attend English courses to develop her language skills. As she plans to enrol in a graduate programme, she thinks that English is indispensable. “I currently made another application for a DAFI scholarship to support me in pursuing a master’s degree in biomedical engineering,” she adds. “Specialization is crucial for today’s world.”
The scholarship also promotes refugee self-reliance through increased access to opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship. The programme has supported over 18,000 young refugees to undertake tertiary studies since 1992.
Ghufran is fully on track to meet her career plans. She hopes to graduate this year following the completion of her mandatory internship. Expecting to be the first female engineer of the family, her vision is clear: train for life, be inspired and move forward. Thanks to the support of Germany through the DAFI programme, persons in need of protection like Ghufran pursue their academic studies successfully. As part of the 2030 Strategy for Refugee Education, UNHCR will continue to include more refugees in education in partnership with Germany and other donors. UNHCR is grateful for the continued support from Germany to UNHCR and to persons in need of protection in Turkey.