The EU's largest ever humanitarian programme for education in emergencies, which aims to encourage some 230 000 refugee children to attend school in Turkey by the end of 2017, has started its first payments to refugee families. The 'conditional cash transfer for education' (CCTE) project receives €34 million in EU funding through the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey. It works by providing cash transfers every two months to refugee families whose children regularly attend school.
Speaking at the programme's launch ceremony held today in Ankara, Turkey, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said, "Refugee children have survived events that are unimaginable to most of us. That's why investing in education is crucial and is a priority for the European Union. We want to help these children regain a sense of normality and give them opportunities for the future. I'm proud to announce that the programme is now fully up and running and already we've reached the families of 56,000 refugee children. I thank our partner UNICEF, as well as the Turkish Red Crescent and the Turkish Government for sharing our commitment to make education a right for all."
Implemented in partnership with UNICEF and its local partner, the Turkish Red Crescent, the project will extend the Turkish Government's existing national CCTE programme – in place since 2003 – to reach a larger number of refugee children.
The CCTE makes use of the same debit card as another EU funded humanitarian aid programme in Turkey called the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), which provides monthly cash transfers through a debit card to the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey. Over 600 000 refugees are already receiving monthly payments via the ESSN programme, and the EU hopes to reach 1.3 million refugees by the end of the year.
Children of families eligible for the ESSN project are automatically considered for the CCTE, provided that they attend school regularly. Families not registered with the ESSN can also apply. The project also includes a child protection component ensuring that children stay in school.
The CCTE is funded by the €3 billion available from the EU and its Member States under the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey (2016-2017) to provide assistance to refugees and host communities in Turkey. Some €500 million have already been made available through the Facility to support the provision of education to refugees.
Turkey is currently hosting more than three million refugees, almost half of whom are children. Providing them with education is an enormous challenge. While 500 000 refugee children are enrolled in Turkish schools and temporary education centres, an estimated 370 000 remain out of school.