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Press Centre (7/2016)

Language skills makes a change in a child's life

ANKARA 21 JULY 2016 - Abdurrahman,13, was top of his class at his old school in Aleppo. He dreamt of becoming a doctor and his parents were determined to help make his dreams come true. The family stayed in the war torn city as long as they could, but last year Abdurrahman’s father made the heartbreaking decision that the time had come for his family to leave. Going to school in Aleppo was just too dangerous. They left everything behind; their house, car, furniture, and all their belongings except their memories and dreams.
As soon as they arrived in Gaziantep, Turkey, now home to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, education was for them one of their key priorities. Abdurrahman’s parents found a school for their children where they could all can continue their education, and then a house close by. Keen to settle in quickly, Abdurrahman came across with “My Life”Language, Training and Youth Center located in Gazikent, Gaziantep where he and his three brothers are learning Turkish. Through hard work, Abdurrahman managed to learn this new language very quickly which positively changed his daily life. He is now able to communicate with other people around him. “I am so happy that I learned Turkish, now I am able again to talk again with other children in the school, on the street, at the market. When we first came it was so hard for me. I did not want to go to school, even go out to play” he said.
Centers for Youth
The “My Life” Center in Gaziantep is one of the centers opened with the generous support of donors like Kuwait in October 2015. The center employs five teachers who provide Turkish lessons to Syrian children aged 6-18. Burcu Gülerim, who has worked at the center since it opened, is proud of what her students have achieved in such a short period. “The children like speaking Turkish so much, they speak Turkish even with each other at school,” Burcu said with a smile. “Their Syrian teachers have to stop them from speaking Turkish during school hours.”
The “My Life” Language, Training and Youth Centers, supported by UNICEF in partnership with the Refugee Education Trust (RET), aims to ensure that Syrian children get access to non-formal education, particularly children who are out of school, to prevent the development of a “lost generation”. In the centers, children take part in a series of youth engagement activities such as leadership, life-skills and peer-to-peer information and support sessions. In addition to providing essential psycho-social support, the “My Life” Center offers Turkish and English language classes.
Further to the “My Life” Center in Gaziantep, there are two more centers in Kızıltepe (Mardin) and in Viranşehir (Şanlıurfa) which are also supported by Kuwait. Over the past 9 months, a total of 10,085 Syrian children have benefitted from these Centers which are crucial to the well-being and self-development of children.
Around 1.5 million Syrian children live in Turkey and their needs are far to be met particularly in the areas of education and child protection. Since the beginning of the crisis UNICEF, together with the Government of Turkey and partners on the ground, have been striving to avoid a lost generation of Syrian children. The generous support of donors like Kuwait has been essential to carry out the above activities and UNICEF is very grateful for this partnership.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org.  
UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org