Roma children engaged in migration are often excluded from compulsory education. The lack of coordination between schools in localities of origin and destination, often coupled with discriminatory attitudes towards the Roma, impede children’s access to non-disruptive and quality education. Terre des hommes (Tdh) and its partners initiated the “MISTO AVILEAN!” project to promote the non-discriminatory integration of Roma children in the education system of three countries concerned by their migration – Romania, France, and Spain.
Research show that Roma are perceived in negative terms by 41% of the population in Spain and 66% in France. Migration decreases the chances for Roma children to complete compulsory education cycles: 55% of Romanian Roma children between 7 and 10 years old residing in France are not enrolled in school (against 19% in Romania), and 53% in the case of 11 to 15 year-olds (against 39% in Romania). Spain also faces difficulties in ensuring compulsory education for mobile families.
By working with AFEJI from France and Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) from Spain, Tdh aims to develop transnational cooperation mechanisms between 60 schools and ensure the integration in non-disruptive compulsory education for 200 Roma children. The “MISTO AVILEAN!” (in Romani language, “Welcome!”) or “Migration = Integration: Service Transfer Optimization” project creates a model of cooperation and integration that can be further used by other schools and states.
Transnational cooperation for non-disruptive compulsory education
By discussing with Roma families and education professionals, we identify the difficulties in ensuring that Roma children on the move in three EU member states (Romania, Spain and France) are enrolled in school. These obstacles are tackled through a transnational cooperation mechanism which is created between education professionals and institutions in cities of origin and destination of Roma families. For this purpose, we involve the national and local authorities and together we develop a set of documents and formal procedures supporting the transnational follow-up of children on the move in education. The mechanism focuses on provision of non-discriminatory and non-disruptive compulsory education for Roma children, including the ones who are undocumented. Within the project, 200 Roma children will benefit from improved access to education.
Strengthening the capacity of education professionals
The education professionals’ limited knowledge and practice of working with Roma families on the move is among one of the difficulties related to low school enrolment of Roma children. After developing a set of specific tools and methods, we will train 240 teacher and school staff to provide culturally sensitive and adapted content in the education process. An important aspect in this process will be to raise professionals’ awareness of Roma culture and social organisation, anti-Roma prejudice, and national and EU anti-discrimination legislation. To further support professionals, a digital-based training programme will be set up on ChildHub, promoting the use of elements of positive practice in education for Roma children, and encouraging mutual learning and exchange.
Combating anti-Roma prejudice
Prejudices are a major obstacle in ensuring non-discriminatory education for Roma children on the move. We empower children and youth to design and carry out an awareness raising campaign, which will challenge the anti-Roma prejudice and negative representations of Roma in the education process. By showcasing educational success stories of Roma children and promoting their right to education while migrating, we want to change the perceptions and attitudes of education professionals, the press, local authorities, national and EU policy makers, and the wide population.
The project is funded by the European Commission through the Programme “Rights, Equality and Citizenship” (2014-2020) and is implemented between November 2018 to October 2020.