A new online resource for educators of refugees and migrants was launched in Turkey on Thursday 23 March.
‘Migrants and Refugees as Re-Builders’, is a curriculum that aims to inspire educators with new ideas, and training modules that they can use in their work. They will also be able to share training modules that they have found effective.
The curriculum is the fruit of a partnership between educational institutions and NGOs which work with migrants and refugees in Turkey, UK, Spain and Sweden, with the support of the EU Erasmus+ fund.
Their vision is that among those who flee conflict or seek a better life abroad, there are many who may one day be able to make a positive contribution firstly to their host countries, and in due course, to the recovery of their home countries. This is already the case for example with Somalia, where thousands of diaspora Somalis have returned with that intention in the last few years.
It was appropriate that the launch of the Migrants and Refugees as Re-builders website was hosted by Turkey, which is the country with the largest number of refugees in the world – approximately 3.2 million, mainly Syrians.
It took place in the TRT state television building in Ankara, before a distinguished audience of MPs, civil servants, academics and representatives of international NGOs wanting to improve the well-being of refugees in Turkey.
In his welcome, Prof Dr Mehmet Barca, Rector of the Ankara Social Sciences University (ASBU), expressed his pleasure that his university was associated with the project. He said, ‘I am sure that with the help of this project, a unique model of integration will be developed which has a long-lasting impact on the handling of migrants and refugees’.
Peter Riddell, National Coordinator of the lead organisation, Initiatives of Change UK, responded to Prof Barca’s welcome, by expressing his appreciation for the collaboration with Turkish partners. Initiatives of Change’s conviction and experience, he said, was that ‘people of Muslim and Christian cultures, as well as of other cultures, can work together on the basis of shared moral values’.
Prof Dr Emel Topçu, an authority on refugees in Turkey and representative of the Ankara Social Sciences University, chaired the event. She said that through the project, ‘many migrants and refugees will be trained as adult educators, and they will educate their own communities’.
The other visiting partner organisations also made presentations: Progestión, which provides a wide variety of services to migrants and refugees in Madrid, Spain and Kista Folkshögskola, a Muslim further education college in a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden.
Three Somali British refugees from the Nabad Curiye (Peace Making) organisation also spoke about the contribution they are making to rebuilding their country of origin. They expressed their deep appreciation for Turkey’s contribution to the reconstruction effort in Somalia.
When interviewed on national television after the event, Prof Dr Sevgi Kurtulmuş, Vice-Rector of the Ankara Social Sciences University said, ‘ We want to show that the refugees can make a contribution to Turkish society, and also to Syrian society when the war ends in Syria. This is why we paid great attention to this project.’