Faced with the problem of continued social exclusion of Roma communities in the country, Terre des hommes Moldova has successfully implemented a project aimed at encouraging school attendance among Roma children, and facilitating their integration into the community. Roma children in the country too often miss out on their most basic right to education due to lack of financial means as well as discrimination from the non-Roma community, with a UNICEF report revealing that 16% of Roma students are victims of violence and abuse at school.
In order to tackle this, Tdh championed an initiative to establish ludotecas, or 'toy libraries', in around 30 schools in areas of the country with high Roma populations, over the course of two years. Equipped with resources, these ludotecas have become a space of both learning and recreation between children of different backgrounds, away from the more formal classroom setting.
In addition, Tdh carried out training for teachers and other child protection professionals in how to better support students and their parents, particularly regarding issues of Roma inclusion. A small grants system was set up to encourage schools to offer extra-curricular activities such as theatre, sport or excursions, activities which have also engaged parents.
The success of these initiatives has been attested to by schools and families alike. By the end of the project, the number of Roma children who considered school as a safe and engaging environment had increased by 30%, with many positive responses from parents too.
The full article describing the practice can be read in Romanian (on this website) or in French and German in the recent edition of the Terre des hommes magazine "Courage".