EUROPE: 10 Goals for Improving Access to Education for Roma

 The estimated 10 million Roma across Europe make up the continent’s largest minority and one of its most vulnerable groups. Without access to quality education, Roma communities remain trapped in poverty and isolated at society’s margins.

Governments and civil society have recognised the problem and developed initiatives to address it. Positive, substantial change, however, has been haphazard and slow. Roma children continue to have much worse rates of participation and performance in school than non-Roma children. Roma children are often placed in schools for children with learning disabilities simply because they are Roma.

Schools with a high percentage of Roma often lack the resources to give students the skills and knowledge they need to get good jobs or access higher education. Improving education for Roma is challenging, but not impossible. The obstacles facing Roma schoolchildren can be overcome with political will and improved cooperation among various stakeholders, including international organisations, national governments, local school boards, and Roma communities.

The 10 goals presented here offer a set of objectives to help stakeholders define current challenges and take actions to improve education in order to benefit Roma children, their communities, and the larger societies in which they live.

Based on monitoring reports developed by three Open Society Institute (OSI) programmes that examined education for Roma in eight Central and Eastern European countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia), the goals reflect the reports’ findings and their recommendations for improving access to quality education for Roma.

The monitoring series—Equal Access to Quality Education for Roma—was produced by OSI’s EU Monitoring and Advocacy Program, in cooperation with the Education Support Program and the Roma Initiatives programme. The continued marginalisation of Roma undermines Europe’s potential as a community of states marked by peace, tolerance, and opportunity for all its inhabitants. Education is key to the inclusion of Roma as equal and active citizens.

By consistently applying the 10 goals to their plans and activities, policymakers and civil society groups can improve education in order to help Roma schoolchildren become productive and respected members of their communities, their countries, and the greater European community.

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