25 SES 14 B, Children's Rights in European Education. Dilemmas, Challenges and Implementation Regarding Roma Children
In 1998, Roma was recognized as one of Norway’s national minorities. Even though Norway is often described as a strong welfare state, with emphasis on inclusion and children’s rights, as well as holding high educational attainment in the general population, existing studies indicate persisting severe lacks in Roma children’s formal education. Most adults in the group, currently counting some 700 individuals, are considered illiterate. Based on the findings from a recent ethnographic study, this paper investigates some of the reasons why there has been relatively little improvement in the educational situation for the Roma children in Norway. Drawing on Bacchi’s (2009) ʻwhatʼs the problem represented to beʼ-approach, the paper first discusses the consequences of problem representation in the public debate, mainly portraying the Roma way of life as incompatible with formal education, and Roma parents as unwilling to procure formal education for their children. Furthermore, as there is little evidence that the international commitments following the recognition of Roma as a national minority have been implemented in national school law and regulations, the paper argues that the lack of a clearly defined Norwegian policy towards education for Roma, represents a “missing link” between international intentions and local school practices. Special measures aiming to improve the situation for children belonging to a certain group, as Roma, is also not in line with the overall minority educational policy, which mainly addresses challenges through universal measures. These factors make it difficult to establish targeted solutions at municipality and school level, and to implement “best practices” based on international research, to better the lives of the children in the Roma community. The paper argues that a strong focus on different structural rather than cultural factors is the viable way forward, when working to improve the quality of schooling for the Roma children in Norway, and thus secure their right to education.
Bacchi, C. L. (2009) Analysing policy: whatʼs the problem represented to be? Frenchs Forest N.S.W: Pearson Australia. Hagatun, K. (2019). “They assume that I don’t really want education for my children”: Roma mothers’ experiences with the Norwegian educational system. HERJ Hungarian Educational Research Journal, 9(1), 9-21. Hagatun, K. (2020). The Educational Situation for Roma in Norway. In A. Óhidy & K. R. Forray (Eds.), Lifelong Learning and the Roma Minority in Western and Southern Europe (pp. 91-112). UK: Emerald publishing. Hagatun, K. (2020). Silenced Narratives on Schooling and Future: The Educational Situation for Roma Pupils in Norway. Nordic Journal for Comparative and International Education. (Spesial issue: Decolonial Choices in Education), 4(1), 118-137. Helakorpi, J., Lappalainen, S., & Mietola, R. (2018). Equality in the Making? Roma and Traveller Minority Policies and Basic Education in Three Nordic Countries. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 1-18.
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