07 SES 08 A, Higher Education (Part 1)
General Description: Roma remain marginalised and discriminated against in all EU countries (D’Arcy, 2014). As far as education is concerned, Roma children remain among the lowest academic achievers in many European countries (Symeou, Luciak & Gobbo, 2009) and the same is true in Greece. In Greece, Roma pupils often experience segregation through educational settings, high dropout rates, low performance outcomes, and higher levels of non-completion when compared to their Greek (non-Roma) peers (Nikolaou, 2009; Dragonas, 2012). Greece is one of the five (out of 11) EU Member States, where fewer than one out of 10 Roma is reported to have completed upper secondary education (UNDP, 2012). Although the Roma are an under-represented group in Greek higher education, a small minority do stay in school and enter university. In the Greek educational system, there are some special mechanisms to support the students entering higher education through different pathways other than the mainstream nationwide exams, but none of them addresses the Roma pupils. Drawing on a set of in-depth interviews with twenty Greek Roma who have entered higher education, this paper examines the participants’ views and suggestions on how widening participation policies through positive discrimination could enhance the take-up of higher education opportunities for the Greek Roma. My argument here is that, the participants’ views and suggestions are in conflict, because some participants support initiatives of widening participation but others disapprove of them because, according to their accounts, such measures could potentially further discriminate the Roma inside the Greek society. [In my research, I take entrance to higher education as a marker of educational success because in Greek society, higher education holds high symbolic value and is considered to be a lever for social mobility (Themelis, 2013)].
Background: In the Greek national context, the Roma are Greek citizens who are not officially recognised as a national or linguistic minority (Kostadinova, 2011). Thus, little reliable data about the Roma in Greece has been collected (Dragonas, 2012). The Roma population in Greece is estimated to be at least 150,000, while some reports raise the number to 265,000 (Parthenis & Fragoulis, 2016). Most Roma in Greece speak Romani, their community language, are settled residents and deal in trade (Nikolaou, 2009). The Roma does not consist of a homogeneous community (Nikolaou, 2009; Zachos, 2011), however, they are frequently reviled and they experience forms of social exclusion (Dragonas, 2012; Georgiadis & Zisimos, 2012). The discrimination of the Roma at a social level is also reflected in the educational settings. Considerable attempts have been made to encourage the educational inclusion of Roma students, largely through programmes aimed at encouraging more Roma children to attend school during their compulsory phase of education. However, significant problems are still reported (Parthenis & Fragoulis, 2016). This paper investigates some educationally successful Greek Roma’s views on if and how widening participation through positive discrimination could be a way forward to address Greek Roma’s under-representation in higher education.
Research Focus: This paper focuses on twenty Greek Roma’s views on if and how widening participation policies through positive discrimination should be promoted in Greece to boost Greek Roma’s educational progression and enhance their entrance to higher education (e.g. through a special category of candidates).
Conceptual framework: This paper draws on Nancy Fraser’s (1997) theoretical framework (economic, cultural and associational dimensions of social justice; the ‘redistribution-recognition dilemma’) in order to explore theoretically and understand empirically the participants’ suggestions regarding widening the participation of Roma in Greek higher education through positive discrimination. In my work, I also draw on Gewirtz’s (1998) analysis of social justice.
D'Arcy, K. W. (2014). Travellers and Home Education: Safe spaces and inequality. Institute of Education Press. Dragonas, T. (2012). Roma mothers and their young children. Country Report: Greece (Unpublished Report). Bernard Van Leer Foundation. Farkas, L. (2014). Report on discrimination of Roma children in education (2014). Retrieved April 15, 2015 from http://ec.europa.eu/justice/discrimination/files/roma_childdiscrimination_en.pdf Flick, U. (2009). An Introduction to Qualitative Research (4th Edition). London: Sage. Fraser, N. (1997). Justice interruptus: Critical reflections on the"postsocialist" condition. New York: Routledge. Georgiadis, F., & Zisimos, A. (2012). Teacher training in Roma education in Greece: Intercultural and critical educational necessities. Issues in Educational Research, 22(1), 47-59. Gewirtz, S. (1998). Conceptualizing social justice in education: Mapping the territory. Journal of Education Policy, 13(4), 469-484. Kostadinova, G. (2011). Minority Rights as a Normative Framework for Addressing the Situation of Roma in Europe. Oxford Development Studies, 39(2), 163-183. Kostouli, T., & Mitakidou, S. (2009). Policies as top-down structures versus as lived realities: An investigation of literacy policies in Greek schools. In S. Mitakidou, E. Tressou, B. B. Swadener & C.A. Grant (Eds), Beyond pedagogies of exclusion in diverse childhood contexts: transnational challenges (pp. 47-63). New York: Macmillan. Nikolaou, G. (2009). Teacher training on Roma education in Greece: a discussion about the results of INSETRom experience in two Greek schools. Intercultural Education, 20(6), 549-557. Parthenis, C., & Fragoulis, G (2016). “Otherness” as Threat: Social and Educational Exclusion of Roma People in Greece. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 18(2), 39-57. Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory (2nd Edition). Thousand Oaks, California; London: Sage. Symeou, L., Luciak, M., & Gobbo, F. (2009). Teacher training for Roma inclusion: implementation, outcomes and reflections of the INSETRom project. Intercultural Education, 20 (6), 493-496. Themelis, S. (2013). Social change and education in Greece: a study in class struggle dynamics. New York; Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Trevor, J. & Newburn, T. (2001). Widening access: Improving police relations with hard to reach groups. London: Home Office, Research, Development and Statistics Directorate, Policing and Reducing Crime Unit. UNDP, F. (2012). The situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States. Survey results at a glance. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights,. http://www. undp. org/content/dam/undp/library/Poverty% 20Reduction/UNDP_Roma_Poverty_Reduction_Roma_Survey. pdf. Zachos, D. (2011). Sedentary Roma (Gypsies): The case of Serres (Greece). Romani Studies, 21 (1), 23-56.
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