Izmir is one of Turkey’s largest cities, and currently hosts of 80,000 asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa. From June to September 2015, the Association for Solidarity with Refugees and members of Izmir’s educational community met to discuss the possibility of establishing an educational project for refugee children. After several meetings, a bilateral initiative was formed. Operations began in early October.
The term Praxis has been a recurring philosophical theme throughout most of recorded history, from Aristotle to Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the oppressed”. Simply, it implies that theory, knowledge, observation and privilege should be coupled with application, reflection, action and engagement.
Praxis Initiative, in turn, is a group of qualified international educators from the U.K., U.S., Kenya, Canada, Scotland and Turkey, of whom have a strong philosophy that all young learners have an intrinsic potential and desire for intrigue and curiosity. Praxis Initiative utilises the foundational notions of grassroots education to honour these intrinsic qualities within the refugee community of Izmir, Turkey. Children assisting Praxis activities are typically refugees from Syria and Iraq, but the project is open to all refugee children from age 4 to 12, and invites Turkish children to join as well. We do not discriminate in respects to ethnicity, gender, political or religious affiliations.
Although our operational language is English, the aim of Praxis Initiative is not to provide a systematic program of English language learning, but uses this language rather as a way to build bridges between various languages spoken by refugees (Farsi, Kurdish, Arabic, etc.). Many refugee children have had an interrupted educational path, be it by violence, forced migration or socio-political barriers, and Praxis Initiative (operating since early October 2015) seeks to inspire children to take interest in learning by means of creative and engaging activities.