Resilient schools, resilient communities: Improving education infrastructure for Syrian refugees and host communities in Turkey
By Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez and Elif Ayhan
Across the globe, more than 20 million children from conflict-affected countries are out of school. Missing out on schooling opportunities severely compromises the future of displaced individuals, who have left everything behind to escape conflict and violence.
Take Syrian refugees in Turkey, the country that hosts more individuals fleeing from armed conflict than any other in the world. Turkey has welcomed nearly 3.6 million of the 5.7 million externally displaced individuals as a result of the protracted crisis in Syria. Almost one-third of these people are of school age.
The influx of Syrian refugees has put a tremendous strain on already distressed public services in Turkey, particularly on the provision of formal education for refugees and their host communities. To support the Turkish government’s efforts to improve refugees’ access to education, the World Bank is administering a $160-million project financed by the European Union to help Turkey build safer schools in multiple provinces.
Launched in 2016 and delivered through the Facility for Refugees in Turkey of the European Commission, the Education Infrastructure for Resilience Project enables Turkey’s Ministry of National Education to build 57 disaster-resilient schools (equivalent to some 1,500 classrooms) until 2021, ensuring access to formal education for more than 43,000 school-aged Syrians and their host communities annually.
The project demonstrates a unique example of how infrastructure investments in disaster risk reduction can help tackle a range of complex development challenges. The World Bank facilitates the construction of schools, which benefit from improved design to accommodate the delivery of complementary education services, language training, and psycho-social support for Syrians and host communities. This experience provides a model for other governments seeking to establish resilient communities by empowering displaced populations and their hosts.