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Vahe Sarukhanyan

Illegal Armenian Kids in Turkey: School but no Diploma

The news earlier this fall that the children of RoA citizens illegally residing in Turkey would be allowed to attend private Armenian schools in Istanbul was welcomed by many, not least the parents of these kids.

In years past, these children have been attending makeshift classes in the basement of the Armenian Evangelical Church in the Gedikpasha neighbourhood of Istanbul.

But the decision by the Turkish government isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Donara Bebouryan, the Deputy Director of the Gedikpasha school, told me that while the government decision allows children of illegal Armenians to attend class they will never be granted educational certificates.

In a word, their physical presence in the classroom will not translate into any sort of diploma.

The Gedikpasha school now goes up to the 5th grade. Before the recent government decision, the children were not able to continue their education. Now, in theory, they can.

Ms. Bebouryan told me about another problem facing these kids. Since instruction in Istanbul’s Armenian private schools is mostly conducted in Turkish, a few parents have opted to remove their children.

The parents have brought their kids back to the Gedikpasha school where classes are conducted in eastern Armenian.

The school has requested the Istanbul Municipality for a larger space to conduct classes.

So far, there has been no reply.