Can Eminoğlu | 16 February 2021
Graduate Syrians under temporary protection and people in need of international protection of A1 and A2 level Turkish courses continue their learning process despite COVID-19 lockdowns.
Ankara-Turkey. “It feels so exciting to be back in class,” tells Iman who is one of the graduate students of the Turkish courses provided as part of the “Increasing Access to Turkish Language Learning and Vocational Training for Syrians Under Temporary Protection and People In Need of International Protection in Turkey” project financed by the European Union (EU), coordinated by Ministry of National Education General Directorate of Lifelong Learning (MoNE-DGoLL) and implemented by the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
Iman fled from Aleppo, Syria, to Turkey with her family. Upon their arrival, they settled in Ankara. The first few years consisted of struggle, given that no one in her family spoke Turkish. “From the first moment on, I understood that speaking Turkish would make things easier in our lives and also help me continue my education in the future,” she says.
©UNHCR/ Can Eminoğlu
Through a neighbour, Iman heard about the A1 and A2 level Turkish classes provided by the Mamak Public Education Center in Ankara. With her family’s support, she first enrolled in A1 level Turkish course. “Thanks to my teachers, the start was quite smooth,” states Iman. “We learnt the basics of Turkish at A1 level and then continued with A2 level in order to be able to develop better skills”. Throughout the end of the A2 level, she was able to get into daily conversation almost without any problems. “From using public transportation to shopping at the supermarket, I find it easier to get into a conversation with others thanks to my new language skills.”
Right after the completion of the courses, COVID-19 lockdown came into force. For Iman, the lockdown was a practical cause to do intensive practice, especially for the advancement of her vocabulary knowledge. “Under lockdown, I tried to read as much as possible to develop my Turkish reading skills. I also spent quite a lot of time studying vocabulary. It was truly fun!” she says. Iman feels more confident now as she thinks speaking better Turkish would provide her with new opportunities: “I participate in daily life more and more every day with my new Turkish skills. My next targets are first, to explore education possibilities to fulfil my dreams and second, to find employment. I believe that with my current Turkish skills, I am closer to achieving these objectives.”
Bayan, also from Aleppo, was another student who attended the A1 and A2 level Turkish classes in Mamak Public Education Center in Ankara. She came to Turkey six years ago, and her motivation for attending Turkish classes was to learn Turkish properly. “Even though I learnt basic Turkish phrases with the help of my friends and neighbours, I wanted to learn the language properly” she highlights. With better language skills, Bayan also aims to help her children in their school life.
©UNHCR/ Can Eminoğlu
Like Iman, Bayan faced the COVID-19 lockdowns right after completing the courses, which she did not complain about at all. “I was lucky to finish the courses before the COVID-19 situation because, during the lockdown period, I was able to watch and understand cooking videos in Turkish. I learnt new recipes and cooked delicious Turkish food.” she adds. Bayan is hopeful about the future with her new Turkish language skills which are improving day by day. She thinks that life becomes easier: “When I need to go to the hospital or the bazaar, I do not face language barriers as I used to in the past. Being able to read the signboards and to communicate with others makes me feel more comfortable”.
Recently, she heard about the vocational training provided by the same Public Education Center, as part of the same EU-financed project. As Bayan loves to cook, she is looking forward to submitting her application to receive professional training in cooking. “I want to be a professional cook and find a job in Ankara. This could both help me do what I love and support my family”.
The project, “Increasing Access to Turkish Language Learning and Vocational Training for Syrians Under Temporary Protection and People In Need of International Protection in Turkey” aims to provide Turkish language courses as well as technical and vocational trainings for Syrians under temporary protection and people in need of international protection at Public Education Centers across Ankara, Bursa, Kayseri and Konya. This project is financed by the European Union (EU), coordinated by the Ministry of National Education Directorate General of Lifelong Learning (MoNE-DGoLL) and implemented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).