Turkey: Roma Students Go Beyond the Barriers

Sisli Vocational High School in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by World Bank on Flickr.

Sisli Vocational High School in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by World Bank on Flickr.

The Roma population in Turkey is estimated to be around 2 millions although the numbers vary according to different sources. And Turkey is in no better situation than other European countries as far as discrimination against the Roma is concerned. In addition to the commonly faced problems; such as housing, access to justice and health services; Roma students’ access to education or rather lack of access deserves particular attention. Many Roma students of Turkey do not continue their education after primary school due to economic, social and cultural barriers as well as lack of public support.

In 2009 Open Society Foundation (Turkey) initiated a scholarship program that provides financial support for private courses in order to strengthen the students who take the central university examination. This examination is the main prerequisite for enrollment in a faculty. Moreover, to be able to succeed in this step one needs to attend private courses along with regular public high schools. With this initiative,  OSF (Turkey)’s main objective was to attract attention to equal access to education and provide a sustainable model for disadvantaged groups who are willing to receive higher education but cannot prevail because of various  obstacles. OSF -Turkey’s 3 year support reflect a positive, promising picture. Almost 60 high school students of Roma origin benefited from our scholarship program and 70% of them did succeed in the university examination by being enrolled in different departments of universities across Turkey. This ratio is remarkable not only because it is far beyond the national average, which is around 35%, but also because it proves that any student regardless of their ethnic origin can succeed should they have the opportunity to have an equal education.

For more information visit the Open Society Foundation Turkey.


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