Global Reach: Past Grantees



Turkey hosts more refugees than any other country in the world; more than 3.5 million registered Syrian refugees - over half of them children. These large numbers put enormous strain

on national systems and capacity to meet critical protection needs. Of these, 900,000 are estimated to be school-age and many have either never enrolled in school or have missed four or more years. The population living in urban settings (outside of camps) is estimated to be 80-90%. Many refugees are unregistered or live in another city, which means they have limited or no access to public services – an estimated one-third. Of the 37% school-age Syrian children enrolled in formal education programs, most (85%) are living
in 22 camps. As such, a majority of the children live outside of camps and are not in any form of school. Formal education programs come in two main forms: public schools (overall 24% enrollment) and Temporary Education Centers (TEC - providing Arabic education according to the Syrian curricula by Syrian teachers). Hundreds of TECs were initially opened by the Ministry of Education (MoNE) but quickly proved to be difficult to manage in terms of capacity; now most are shut down and no new TECs are opening. The MoNE is now working on a more integrative approach, yet progress is slow and the task is daunting: Schools are not ready and able to accept and serve this population (curriculum, dealing with missed years, teachers with language and skills to serve traumatized children etc.). As such, many youth still have no educational access and those that do make it into the public school system face challenges. Completion rates of education at all levels are very low. This topic is at the top of the international donor agenda as improving access to education is critical to protect children from becoming what is increasingly known as the ‘lost’ generation. It is crucial for social cohesion, self-esteem and resilience. In addition, schooling reduces the rate of families’ resorting to negative coping mechanisms such as early marriages and child labor. NGO’s response to this problem is essential in complementing MoNE’s goal of public school enrollment and attendance, as they work to deliver programs to prepare and transition children to formal education. Istanbul hosts 557,000 registered Syrian refugees. Adding those registered in other provinces but living in Istanbul, and the unregistered/undocumented, the number of Syrians in the city exceeds 700,000. Umraniye is the second largest district with a Syrian refugee population in Istanbul (nearly 15,000 registered as of January 2017). The local Directorate of National Education estimates there are 4,602 school-aged Syrian children (ages
6-18), half of which are out-of-school.   





YUVA (which means ”nest” or “home”), founded in 2010, believes that sustainable and meaningful lives result from reducing poverty and promoting democratization. YUVA develops and delivers adult/youth/child learning programs in a participatory method and apply a holistic approach to well-being. Given the current situation in Turkey, one of the main pillars of YUVA’s work is the Syrian Refugees Programme, providing mainly non-formal learning (skill building for income generation), psychosocial support, educational support (including language training) and other social learning activities. They have been working in two cities, Kırıkhan and Nizip, with international partners -- mainly GIZ (German Development Agency) and UNHCR.  Since late 2016, YUVA has been running “Cash for Work” projects in these cities as well as in Mersin and İstanbul, providing temporary job opportunities to more than 600 vulnerable locals and Syrian refugees. In addition, YUVA established two Vocational Training Centers –in Nizip (with GIZ) and in Konya (middle Anatolia, with UNHCR) to provide vocational, technical and transferable skills training including Turkish language and entrepreneurship. Each YUVA center has a “Child Friendly Space” with psychosocial and non-formal thematic training including sport, arts, music, drama clubs and recreational activities. YUVA also provides academic catch-up programs, language classes (Turkish, Arabic and English)

and in-kind education support to improve access to formal education for Syrian children and youth. YUVA’s education programme focuses on school age children to ensure enrolment and support through remedial programs designed in line with national curricula. Since November 2016, YUVA (with significant support from IMC-UNHCR) extended its work to İstanbul. Since then, YUVA has transferred considerable expertise working in Southeastern Turkey to İstanbul where Syrian children and youth need special attention and support, while also extending this support to the Turkish community so as to foster integration. YUVA is the only NGO in Umraniye that works in the area of education and protection focusing on both local disadvantaged and Syrian children, youth and women. There is no other institution providing both extracurricular and educational support activities for children and youth in the area, creating a safe space for children and youth.  YUVA has a protocol with the Ministry of Education that is not at all easy to acquire. The team of 103 (70% women) is led by Erden Vardar, Founder of YUVA. The Umraniye Center is led by Asli Cavusoglu, who has experience in humanitarian and development programming.

Current Grant:

EMpower’s 2nd grant to YUVA will support the delivery of a program for 530 Syrian children and local (Turkish) vulnerable children (10-14 age) to improve access to education, and promote well-being and livelihoods. As a result, children and youth will benefit from basic education courses (Turkish, Math and Science), Computer Classes, and Psychosocial Support Workshops on developing core life skills, social skills and healthy living practices. 

Where is Yuva?

Primary Location: Istanbul


Funded Since: 2017

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