Learning to Teach in a Global Crisis: Teachers’ Insights from a Temporary Non-Formal Refugee Education Project in Gaziantep

  • Rabia Hos University of Rhode Island
  • Halil Ibrahim Cinarbas Middle East Technical University (METU)
Keywords: Refugee education, non-formal education, early childhood, language learning


Turkey is home to 1.2 million child refugees whom has been the most vulnerable since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, which is considered to be the worst humanitarian crisis of this century. More than 50% of school age child refugees are out of school (UNICEF, 2017) in Turkey. This paper reports one of the findings of a case study of a temporary non-formal education project (Learning Turkish)1, that focused on supporting 4-6-year-old Syrian children with Turkish language and literacy development. The purpose of the paper is to focus on the teachers’ and administrators’ experiences in learning to teach young refugees in the time of crisis.  Data sources include in-person interviews and observations. Findings from this study confirm that in times of crisis teachers and administrators focus on being in the moment, teaching in the moment and learning to teach refugee children. Teachers and administrators reported that the experience in this project contributed to their teaching and personal development and enhanced their civic responsibility and personal growth. This study also confirmed that improvements are needed in making schooling available to all refugee children and training teachers to work with students who have experienced trauma.  One of the limitations of the project was its unsustainability due to funding. The paper concludes with implications for educational policy makers and non-formal education providers.

Author Biographies

Rabia Hos, University of Rhode Island

Rabia Hos, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of TESOL at The University of Rhode Island. After receiving her Ph.D. from University of Rochester in 2012, she taught pre-service TESOL teachers at a Turkish university in Gaziantep, Turkey and participated in numerous research projects involving Syrian refugees and disadvantaged youth with visual impairments. She was an assistant professor at Illinois State University during the 2017-2018 academic year. Her research focuses on the experiences of newcomer immigrant and refugee students with interrupted formal education (SIFE).

Halil Ibrahim Cinarbas, Middle East Technical University (METU)

Halil I. Cinarbas is a Ph.D. candidate at Middle East Technical University (METU) and works as an EFL instructor in Ankara, Turkey. In his previous studies, he explored experiences of pre-service teachers with visual impairments. His areas of research interests are special needs students and language learning, language teacher education and professional development.