07 SES 05 A, Researching Roma Education
International and European bodies recommend the surge for improving the socio-economic status and social inclusion of Roma through actions such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination published in February 2009 (CERD), the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015, and the establishment of the European Roma Rights Centre. Nonetheless, policy action and reforms do not seem to have prompted significant improvements in raising barriers to equal access to employment, health care, education and housing faced by Roma. In Europe, where it is estimated that more than half of the total Roma population of the world live (i.e. around 10 million people), Roma are described as the most disadvantaged ethnic group across the continent. The reproduction of disadvantaged living circumstances in the Roma community is often attributed to the lack of educational attainment for Roma. Around 50% of the Roma children around Europe appear not to complete their primary education (UNESCO & Council of Europe, 2007) and only a small percent of Roma get college and university education. Nonetheless, the stereotypical opinion that Roma parents do not want their children to go to school has been proven to be a myth (Greek National Committee of Human Rights, 2001). In addition is seems that it is the social conditions and the educational system itself that set obstacles for Roma children’s school success and Roma family links with the school (Symeou, et al, 2009).
The project “School Education for Roma Integration” (SEDRIN), findings of which are presented in this paper, focuses on the school inclusion and progress of Roma children at the age of 3-8 years old. The study involves eight institutions (among which five Roma-led organisations) in seven European countries and started in October 2012. It aims at empowering Roma women in acting as intermediators between the Roma children and the school. Roma women appear to be the most actively involved adults in Roma children’s life and thus more relevant to any endeavour to prepare Roma children for the school and the school-life. The Project acknowledges that Roma families often lack information and knowledge and those specific skills to monitor and support their children’s schooling (UNICEF, et al, 2011), as well as that the school and its system appear unfamiliar, different, strange and very often negative for Roma children (Symeou, et al, 2009). It thus appears that among the major factors that contribute to the early school drop-out of Roma children is the distance and inconsistency between the Roma family and community environment and the school environment and its workings.
This paper presents the research findings of the Project which aimed at identifying in the seven educational systems of the partners constituting the Project’s consortium the main real life educational needs of the target groups, and specifically the factors relating to the phenomenon of Roma children dropping-out the school, as well as Roma women’s needs to systematically support their children to attend the school and remain and succeed in the educational system (October 2012-June 2013).
Greek National Committee of Human Rights (2001). Annual report. Athens: Greek National Committee of Human Rights. Symeou, L., Luciak M., & Gobbo, F. (2009). Focus editorial address: Teacher training for Roma inclusion: implementation, outcomes and reflections of the INSETRom project. Intercultural Education, 20(6), 493-496. UNESCO & Council of Europe (2007). Education of Roma Children in Europe. Towards quality education for Roma children: transition from early childhood to primary education, DGIV/EDU/ROM(2007)5. UNICEF, European Social Observatory, & Belgian Federal Planning Service (Ministry) for Social Integration (2011). Preventing social exclusion through the Europe 2020 strategy. Early Childhood development and the inclusion of Roma families. Retrieved on 20.1.2012 http://www.ecdgroup.com/pdfs/Preventing-Social-Exclusion.pdf
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