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 – Romania, France, and Spain.
Research shows 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 aged 7–10 years old residing in France are not enrolled in school (compared to 19% in Romania), and neither are 53% of children aged 11–15 years old (39% in Romania). Spain also faces difficulties in ensuring compulsory education for mobile families.
Working with AFEJI in France and Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) in Spain, Tdh aims to develop transnational cooperation mechanisms between 60 schools to ensure integration in non-disruptive, compulsory education for 200 Roma children. The ‘MISTO AVILEAN!’ (in the Romani language, ‘Welcome!’), or ‘Migration = Integration: Service Transfer Optimization’, project creates a model of cooperation and integration that can be used by other schools and states.
Transnational cooperation for non-disruptive compulsory education
Through discussions with Roma families and education professionals, we identified the difficulties in ensuring Roma children on the move in three EU member states (Romania, Spain and France) can enrol in school. These obstacles can be tackled through a transnational cooperation mechanism which is created between education professionals and institutions in the Roma families’ cities of origin and destination. For this, we will involve the national and local authorities to develop a set of documents and formal procedures to support the transnational follow-up of children on the move in education. The mechanism focuses on the provision of non-discriminatory and non-disruptive compulsory education for Roma children, including those who are undocumented. Within the project, 200 Roma children will benefit from improved access to education.
Strengthening the capacity of education professionals
Low school enrolment of Roma children can be linked to education professionals’ lack of experience working with Roma families. After developing a set of specific tools and methods, we will train 240 teachers and school staff to provide culturally-sensitive and adapted educational content. Raising professionals’ awareness of Roma culture and social organisation, anti-Roma prejudice, and national and EU anti-discrimination legislation is a key aspect of this process. To further support professionals, an online training programme will be provided through ChildHub to promote the use of elements of positive practice in education for Roma children, and to encourage mutual learning and exchange.
Combating anti-Roma prejudice
Prejudice is a major obstacle in ensuring non-discriminatory education for Roma children on the move. We will empower children and youth to design and carry out an awareness-raising campaign, which will challenge anti-Roma prejudice and negative representations of Roma in the education process. By showcasing Roma children’s educational success stories 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 wider society.
The project is funded by the European Commission through the Programme ‘Rights, Equality and Citizenship’ (2014–2020), and is implemented between November 2018 and October 2020.