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Disparity Reduction, Social Inclusion and Protect

Early Childhood Care and Development (ECD): Turkey has made tremendous achievements in reduction of child mortality, one of the fastest reductions among the OECD countries. This is mainly due to right child health policies put in place and through ensuring full immunization, breastfeeding and nutrition. The focus of the ECD programme in the new country programme will be thinking beyond survival and looking into child development. In addition, UNICEF will address the issue of improving children's developmental readiness to start primary school on time, especially for marginalized children

Quality Education: As part of new Country Program UNICEF Education Section focuses on increasing access in quality pre-school  education, completion of quality primary education and  transition to secondary education, and secondary education with special emphasis to gender parity.

Child Protection: UNICEF works with law enforcement officials, the judiciary and social services to strengthen the system to prevent and address abuse and exploitation of children, particularly those outside of parental care and in contact with the law. UNICEF strives to create opportunities for Turkey’s 13 million adolescents to learn lifeskills, to protect them from HIV/AIDS and live healthy, productive lives.

Early Childhood Care and Development (ECD)

Turkey has made tremendous achievements in reduction of child mortality, one of the fastest reductions among the OECD countries. This is mainly due to right child health policies put in place and through ensuring full immunization, breastfeeding and nutrition. The focus of the ECD programme in the new country programme will be thinking beyond survival and looking into child development. In addition, UNICEF will address the issue of improving children's developmental readiness to start primary school on time, especially for marginalized children

ECD will focus on the adoption of national policies and strategies to combat child poverty, creation of increased fiscal space for children and families, capacity development at national and local levels for the provision of quality and inclusive education, health, protection and social protection services, and the effective monitoring of child rights – with focus on most disadvantaged.

In view of the importance of Early Childhood Care and Development for improving the prospects of children born into disadvantaged communities and families, UNICEF will

  • Support the integration of ECCD - including the early identification of development difficulties and disability – into the health care system
  • Foster behavioral and system change, including the adoption of a community-based model, which is needed to increase the numbers of girls and boys especially from disadvantaged backgrounds to benefit from quality pre-school education.
  • Empower families and communities to provide better practices that impact young child survival and development via healthcare and preschool systems.  Outreach modalities (in both healthcare and pre-school settings) will be explored.

Mainstreaming ECD into the healthcare system: The introduction of a family medicine system, coupled with the recent introduction of free health insurance for all children, provides an opportunity for Turkey.  The challenge is posed by the ratio of health personnel to the population --  still low by European standards  and personnel are unevenly distributed, and may be inadequately trained and/or subject to rapid turnover.  The solution is to make more efficient use of human resources, particularly nurses and ECD specialists – who are potentially a main channel for families with children under 3 on ECD related issues. Secondly, Turkey is currently exploring, with UNICEF support, an innovative model whereby developmental services are provided via the health care system to families, particularly with children at risk (Developmental Pediatrics Units). 

Access to quality early learning programmes: In the pre-school education, the Ministry of National Education intends to go on to increase the national enrolment rate to 100 percent for the 60-72 month age group and 50 percent for the 36-72 month age group by 2014. The expansion of pre-primary education will require a substantial increase in capital expenditures, so that facilities can be built to provide decent services for children. The introduction of a community-based pre-primary school and day care model supported by an EU funded project with the technical support of UNICEF, is therefore an important initiative.

Parenting Education: Families and communities play a critical role not only in children’s survival, but also in their growth and development.   UNICEF will continue to promote improved family and community care practices that impact Young Child Survival and Development via  (1) supporting the parenting component in the framework of the Community Based services (aimed mostly at supporting early learning programmes), (2) contributing to increasing access to services by families and communities, developing policies and improving family care practices, such as social safety nets or improved outreach services (home visiting services),  Also, (3) augmenting parenting practices by nationwide rolling out of the UNICEF supported 0-18 Parenting Package

Quality Education 

As part of new Country Program UNICEF Education Section focuses on increasing access in quality pre-school  education, completion of quality primary education and  transition to secondary education, and secondary education with special emphasis to gender parity.

Turkey has made great progress in enrolment and gender parity in primary education, but non-attendance and high drop-out rates are still a problem, especially among girls. In addition, pre-primary enrolment is low and there is a transition problem to secondary level. Accordingly Education Section will mainly focus on following intermediate results, main strategies and possible partnership opportunities under this program component.

Strengthening Pre-school Education: As part of this program component, capacity development of the MoNE institutions on delivering quality community based day care and pre-school education services will be targetted. The program will start with conducting curriculum review for service providers and beneficiaries, institutional capacities will be also analyzed and feasibility studies will be conducted for the effective implementation of the programs and new programs will be developed based on the need identified. There will be also series of trainings to equip service providers in these new programs.

Completion of Primary Education and Transition to Secondary Education:

Supporting school empowerment through minimum standards: This component of the programme will focus on how to empower schools to improve quality in education through developing models to create violence-free schools; enhance school-family-community partnerships; increase student participation by strengthening school councils; and conducting impact assessment of curricula especially on child rights, environment and disaster risk reduction education. The outcomes are envisaged to contribute the national long term goal of decentralized schools.

Developing a system to monitor, prevent and interfere non-attendance: Capacity development at school, district, provincial and central level to use the established non-attendance system effectively for timely completion of the primary education.

Modeling new interventions to reach most disadvantaged groups (children who have no birth registration, seasonal and agricultural workers, etc.): global partnership with UNESCO as part of “Out-of School Children Initiative” and networking with Roma NGOs will support the program and allow UNICEF to generate data for further advocacy on policy changes.

Ensure transition to secondary education especially among girls: UNICEF has already initiated a partnership with ERI to collect evidence-based information to identify obstacles in transition and access to secondary education. Future partnerships with NGOs to strengthen career guidance, school counselling and referral system is planned to ensure transition to secondary education.

Child Protection

UNICEF works with law enforcement officials, the judiciary and social services to strengthen the system to prevent and address abuse and exploitation of children, particularly those outside of parental care and in contact with the law. UNICEF strives to create opportunities for Turkey’s 13 million adolescents to learn lifeskills, to protect them from HIV/AIDS and live healthy, productive lives.

Justice for children: A Juvenile Justice system reform has been initiated by the Ministry of Justice with UNICEF’s technical support to improve care standards for children deprived of their liberty. Together with a specialized training package for professionals working with children, a case management model has been developed and piloted to standardize services nationwide. UNICEF will collaborate with its partners to ensure effective implementation and nationwide expansion of this model. Linking this model with the conditional release mechanism will be another objective to ensure that deprivation of liberty is used for the shortest appropriate time period.

A major challenge has been ensuring that all children in contact with the law are treated by competent and specialized personnel. UNICEF will continue to work closely with its partners to ensure that all juvenile justice professionals are specialized through institutionalized pre- and in-service trainings.

UNICEF will intensify its efforts to strengthen child specific judicial procedures, including prevention of secondary victimization, full implementation of fair trial procedures and putting into practice the legal arrangements to ensure deprivation of liberty is used as a last resort.

Strengthening child rights monitoring systems: UNICEF has collaborated with the Turkish Bar Association to develop a model complaints and referral mechanism within provincial bar associations, the Ministry of Justice to develop guidelines for justice inspectors and the Prime Ministry Human Rights Presidency to develop guidelines for provincial human rights boards. UNICEF will intensify its efforts in systematic integration of child rights monitoring within and among related institutions.

Building on the requirements of the EU accession process and the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF will focus on advocacy for the establishment of an independent child rights monitoring mechanism such as an ombudsman’s office.

In 2008 a Parliamentary Child Rights Monitoring Committee was established in the Turkish Grand National Assembly to fill the gap in child rights monitoring with a strong child participation component until a full ombudsman’s office is established and continue to support the ombudsman’s office thereafter. UNICEF will continue to collaborate with the Committee to further strengthen its role through sharing international experiences and providing regular technical support.

Setting up a child protection strategy: Turkey has undergone a reform in its child protection system aiming at strengthening inter-sectoral coordination, improving standards of alternative care and de-institutionalization. However, UNICEF will continue to advocate for and provide technical support to related partners to make prevention an indispensable component of the child protection system.

The child protection system reform shed light on the institutional care for children deprived of parental care. In addition to the initiation of a strong de-institutionalization process, minimum standards of care and protection have been developed. UNICEF will focus on the full implementation of standards in institutional care settings and establishment of an effective monitoring mechanism.

In line with the recent reforms, the Child Protection Law envisages a strong inter-sectoral coordination and holds the Ministry of Justice responsible to ensure coordination. With UNICEF’s technical support, a coordination strategy has been developed and piloted during the last programme cycle. UNICEF will focus on up scaling the implementation of this strategy nationwide through capacity building and establishment of a monitoring system and advocate for a comprehensive national child protection strategy to be implemented at the central and local levels.

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