Although the number of refugee children enrolled in school in Turkey has increased significantly in recent years, nearly 40 percent of Syrian children living in Turkey remain out of school. A number of obstacles prevent Syrian children from enrolling in public schools, including:
- A language barrier;
- The cost of transportation to and from school;
- Issues such as child labor and early marriage; and
- The shortage of programs to help Syrian children who have been out of school catch up with their Turkish peers.
The Conditional Cash Transfer for Education for Syrians and Other Refugees Program
The Conditional Cash Transfer for Education (CCTE) for Syrians and Other Refugees aims to address these barriers, by providing bimonthly cash payments to eligible households. Through the program, households with children deemed to be most at risk receive also targeted support in the form of child protection outreach visits.
UNICEF Turkey contracted with AIR to conduct a rigorous program evaluation. Although there has been monitoring and reporting of the program, before AIR’s evaluation, there had been no rigorous study that explored program’s relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, coherence, and coordination and sustainability.
Key Findings from AIR's Evaluation
Overall, the program’s cash transfers and child protection components achieved positive results. For example, most children attended school regularly and never missed the 80 percent attendance condition to receive transfers. Regular attendance improved over time, achieving the program’s stated objective. In addition, the program distributed transfers to beneficiaries regularly, never missing a transfer, an impressive feat for a large program in its first few years.
AIR’s evaluation found higher rates of school attendance in provinces with child protection programming, a particularly promising finding. The child protection program met with and assisted 75,390 children between May 2017 and March 2020 in the 15 provinces where the child protection services operated. The child protection team visited a large number of children given limited resources but was unable to meet the growing demand for their services.
Qualitative findings suggest that child protection visits are important both to prevent and respond to risks that children face. These components seem to encourage children not only to attend school regularly, but also to begin to attend school at a developmentally appropriate age (6) or return to school if they have faced enrollment challenges. The fact that the program facilitated access to services that address the health, psychosocial, and economic needs of children and their families also appeared to have a positive effect.
Finally, according to participants, the program inspired a feeling of equity among some Syrians, who appreciated receiving the same assistance as vulnerable Turkish families.