Lack of Educational Opportunities for the Roma People in Eastern Europe

Summary

The Roma people constitute one of the largest ethnic minorities in Europe, with 10 to 12 million Roma in the European Union as of 2016. Although they make up a large part of Europe, it has been difficult for the Roma people to fully integrate into society, causing educational gaps between Roma and native children. One contributing factor to this educational disparity is discrimination, both racial and social, against the Roma people; this is also closely tied to Roma placement in inferior, special education schools. Additionally, some cultural traditions of the Roma (such as their occupations, migratory patterns, and early marriage), the segregation of Roma communities, and the lack of accommodation by the government and school systems all act as barriers for Roma children to receive a quality education. All of these elements impact the Roma’s ability to become fully literate and employable and, consequently, lead to the perpetuated poverty of Roma families. Many organizations are working to solve this issue of educational inequality by employing university graduates with cultural diversity training to teach in low socio-economic areas, training native Roma to teach in primary schools, and offering quality early educational development services to Roma children.

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Key Terms

Institutional barriers - “Policies, procedures or situations that systematically disadvantage certain groups of people. [They] exist in any majority-minority group situation.” 1

Social discrimination - Continued unequal treatment on the basis of culture, religion, disability, sexual orientation or any other diversity. 2

Racial discrimination - Continued unequal treatment on the basis of skin color, ethnic origin, or racial origin.

Early childhood development - “(ECD) encompasses physical, socio emotional, cognitive and motor development between 0–8 years of age.” 3

Romani - The language of the Roma people. It is an Indo-Aryan language, closely associated with other Indian languages, and has extensive borrowings from other European languages. It is mainly spoken rather than written. Romani is also the adjective used to describe the Roma culture. 4

Roma - The terms Roma and Romani are used interchangeably in some countries to describe the ethnicity of people as well as their culture and language. Both terms are acceptable and politically correct, as opposed to the derogatory term “gypsy.” 5

Student academic growth - The change in educational achievement over time. 6

Student academic achievement - The change in student proficiency rates. 7

Compulsory education - “In most European education systems, full-time compulsory education/training lasts 9–10 years ending at the age of 15–16.” 8

Context

Since their initial migration to Europe from Northern India in the 12th century, 9 10 the Roma people have been a marginalized group in society. They originally came seeking liberation from the caste system in India with the hope of finding more opportunity in the west. A traditionally nomadic people, the Roma have spread throughout Europe looking for work 11 or avoiding political unrest and possible enslavement and persecution by majority populations. 12 Many Roma people travel seasonally to be with extended family or to follow international open-market trade activities. 13 Without a formal nation to call home, the ethnic group is often viewed as outsiders, and therefore threats to native populations and cultures. Although the Roma have been called a culturally nomadic people, current Roma groups are migratory not because of political circumstances or cultural tradition. Instead, their migratory nature can be attributed to seasonal jobs, international trade, and visiting extended family. 14

The Roma are popularly and discriminatorily known as “gypsies,” which is a racial slur connoting thievery, fortune-telling, or untidiness. 15 “Gypsy” in Slavic languages, “tsigan,” has roots in the Greek word “athinganos,” meaning “heathen.” 16 The Romanian derivation “tigan” is associated with the slavery that the Roma faced from 1385 to 1856, and implies that one is “untouchable.” 17 The Roma continue to be viewed as inferior in many countries today because their traditions are so different from those of majority cultures. Their culture is known for upholding the professions of their ancestors, carrying on trades such as blacksmiths, musicians, or carpenters, thus perpetuating subsistence and small-scale businesses. 18 Because they maintain this distinctive culture, it is often harder for Roma people to reconcile assimilation into modern society with cultural traditions, which are typically a source of strength and solidarity in Roma communities. While they should not be expected to sacrifice their traditions in order to receive the same rights and treatment as the majority populations, this lack of social and economic assimilation is a significant contributor to the Roma’s disadvantaged situation.

Even though ethnically Roma people can be found all over the world, they have settled primarily in eastern Europe. They consist of 10.33% of the population in Bulgaria, 19 8.32% of the total population in Romania, 20 7.05% of the total population in Hungary, 21 9.0% of the total population in Slovakia, 22 and 1.93% of the population of the Czech Republic. 23 With 10 to 12 million Roma living in the European Union (EU) as of 2016, the Roma constitute one of the largest ethnic minorities in Europe. Despite this, natives have consistently viewed them as the “other” and have perpetuated the economically, politically, and socially disadvantaged situation of the Roma through means such as political policy (or lack thereof), cultural stigma, and labor market exclusions. 24

An important issue associated with the Roma is the educational exclusion children experience in schools, often receiving less education or a lower quality of education than their native European peers. Education is the foundation of political, economic, and social opportunity, often seen as a key to social inclusion for minority groups. 25 The Roma have traditionally been deprived of receiving even a primary education (both because of formal governmental repression and cultural prejudices), leading to significant lifelong and intergenerational ramifications for their communities. 26 Systematic repression from formal education between the Roma and native Europeans began over a century ago, and was perpetuated during the communist era in eastern Europe. 27 The lack of educational equality between Roma and native European populations was accentuated in the years following communism (after 1989) as eastern European societies were rebuilding and rebranding themselves as capitalist systems. 28 This is because, although communist-era policies allowed the Roma’s social standing to be more equal to that of the native population, post-communist policies caused an increase in Roma poverty since they could no longer rely on the state to provide adequate living conditions, compulsory primary education, and schoolbooks. 29

Roma educational inequality continues to be prevalent all throughout western and eastern Europe, but since there is a higher concentration of Roma people in the countries of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, this brief will focus primarily on populations in eastern Europe. 30 Roma educational disparities in eastern Europe become especially evident when comparing statistics with native European children. For example, according to 2011 census data in Bulgaria, 0.9% of native Bulgarians did not attend or complete primary school, whereas 21.8% of Roma children did not attend or complete primary school. 31 The data demonstrates a similar situation in Romania, where 1.5% of native Romanians did not graduate primary school but were literate, and 6.1% of Roma people did not graduate primary school but were literate. 32 In these countries, there is a real disparity in opportunity and achievement for the Roma minority as opposed to the native European children, and disparities are universal and unrestricted for each grade level and age group. 33

Roma girls also tend to face disproportionate educational disparity as compared to Roma boys. Roma boys spend an average of 6.71 years in education, while Roma girls spend around 5.66 years. This is notably different from non-Roma population averages: 10.95 years for boys and 10.7 for girls. 34 About 28% of Roma women (aged 16 to 64) have not received a formal education, compared to only 18% of Roma men and 2% of non-Roma women. 35 These statistics demonstrate that although most Roma children receive less education than non-Roma children, and girls in all demographics in eastern Europe tend to receive less education than boys, Roma girls are the most disadvantaged when it comes to educational attainment. 36

Because of the migratory tendencies of the Roma and the fact that many live in unregistered housing, census data on this population is sparse. This lack of information has major consequences in political policy, making it difficult to monitor changes in the Roma demographic. Inadequate data also perpetuates disparities in access to quality education because inaccurate enrollment and class size data can cause insufficient allocation of learning materials and teachers to areas of high Roma populations. 37 Because of this lack of quantitative data, much of the research in this brief comes from academic research, studies from governmental organizations such as the UN and the EU, and anecdotal evidence from the experiences of Roma individuals.

Contributing Factors

Racial Discrimination

One of the primary factors leading to diminished educational opportunity for the Roma people is political and economic racial inequities. In a 2019 Global Attitudes survey, results from 10 out of 16 countries in central and eastern Europe showed that 50% or more of their respective populations had unfavorable views of the Roma ethnicity. Slovakia was especially high, with 76% of people feeling unfavorably towards the Roma. 38 Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary followed closely behind at 68%, 66%, and 61%, respectively. 39

In a survey given to Roma people across eastern Europe, “ethnic or origin discrimination” was identified as the primary factor causing unfair treatment of Roma people. All were asked to rate discrimination based on multiple categories, including ethnicity or origin, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and religious belief. In all countries surveyed, ethnic and origin discrimination received the highest percentages of discrimination 40 (see following figure). Furthermore, in a group of eastern European states surveyed in 2009, half of Roma individuals stopped by the police in the 12 months prior to the study believed that they were stopped because of their ethnicity. 41 Racial discrimination creates tension with the native population, and because of natives’ stigmas against them, the Roma feel suppressed in exercising their human rights and their rights as EU citizens. 42

Governments have traditionally been slow to create action plans to assuage this stigma and discrimination and to help the Roma assimilate successfully. 43 The policies that governments do have in place to try and protect the Roma against racial discrimination are often not effectively implemented by local leaders, who can face popular pressure to maintain the status quo of school segregation. 44 For example, in connection with the initiative from 2005–2015, called “the Decade of Roma inclusion,” Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia all adopted the EU Racial Equality Directive into national law, which was intended to decrease the amount of discrimination against racial minorities throughout EU countries. 45 Despite these measures, a report on the impact of the EU Racial Equality Directive in 27 EU countries stated that neither employers nor trade unions showed a comprehensive understanding of racial discrimination in regards to the Roma people, and the Roma people were generally acknowledged as not coming under the protection of the directive. 46 These ingrained patterns of systematic segregation affect how national policy is integrated at the local level, especially in schools. 47

The Roma are not awarded the same kind of political autonomy or credibility due to their race, which makes them vulnerable to inequalities, especially in the education system. 48 An exception to this comes from Hungary, where the first National Gypsy Minority Self Government (NGMS-G) was created in 2000; this allowed Roma interests to be voiced in the local government and helped disadvantaged Roma children graduate from a vocational school. This type of representation matters in implementing educational reform and voicing Roma-specific needs, but because of continued racial discrimination and a lack of reform from national governments, these types of minority self-governments are rare and the Roma continue to receive inadequate representation throughout much of eastern Europe. 49 Other political parties have formed on behalf of the Roma to amplify their voices in national government, but they are largely underrepresented. For example, out of 314 members of the lower house of Romania’s National Parliament, only 1 member—0.3% of body membership—represents the Roma, 50 even though 8.32% of Romania’s population is Roma. 51

Although there are no studies proving that education disparities are linked directly to racial bias, racially discriminated groups all over the world are often put at a disadvantage educationally, demonstrating a likely correlation in the Roma population as well. 52 Segregation of Roma children in schooling highlights one way this racial discrimination may influence educational inequality. Roma children are often channeled into all-Roma segregated schools or placed into segregated “Roma only” classes in mainstream schools. 53 Between 33% to 58% of Roma children in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Greece have attended a class where all or many of their classmates were Roma. 54 The segregated, Roma-only schools offer an inferior education as there is a higher chance of teacher absenteeism as well as a lack of equipment, such as textbooks or science laboratories. 55 Lower quality of education, a lack of local investment, and subpar teaching all widen the gap of Roma segregation. 56

Placement in Special Education Schools

Many Roma youth are unjustly placed in special education schools because of perceived cognitive deficiencies or fewer opportunities for cognitive development at a young age. 57 Although this is closely tied to racial biases against the Roma population, this increased placement in special education schools greatly contributes to unequal education for Roma children in its own right. Although they have no apparent learning challenges or disabilities, Roma children make up the majority of children placed in special education programs. 58 In the Czech Republic, up to 70% of Roma children were placed in remedial or special schools with an inferior curriculum and exceedingly low educational outcomes. 59 In Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Serbia, this comes from a bias in entry-level testing. These countries rely on at least one of two tests—the Raven’s Progressive Matrices or the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children—to measure whether children are prepared to enter primary school. These tests focus on the amount of cultural experiences the child has been exposed to that would give him/her a certain skill set and vocabulary. Since many Roma children do not grow up in middle-class families, Roma children tend to score low on these tests, resulting in their placement in special education schools and remedial schools. 60

Roma families’ physical segregation from other communities in eastern Europe forces them to live in lower income neighborhoods, increasing the likelihood of children unjustly entering into special education programs. 61 Those in lower income families often have fewer opportunities for cognitive development before preschool, thus giving them less of a chance to pass the tests for entering kindergarten at a regular school. 62 This demonstrates how social status can determine how children are placed in school, even if they are not in need of special education. Lack of educational guidance from parents can also lead to children falling behind in school, which causes them to be placed in special education schools for remedial learning. 63 Additionally, because Roma families tend to migrate frequently, it can be difficult for children to maintain a steady education pattern. The inconsistency of their education can allow for them to fall behind and therefore become more of a target to be placed in special education programs. 64

Because of misdiagnoses, flawed tests, and disadvantaged social status, statistics for the percentage of Roma students segregated into special education schools in eastern Europe tends to be higher and more stable than in other European countries. For example, less than 0.1%, 1.3% and 1.1% of Roma children in Italy, Finland, and the United Kingdom, respectively, were placed in special education schools in 2008. In the same year, 3.6%, 3.5%, and 2.9% of Roma children in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, respectively, were placed in special education schools. 65 On average, roughly 1 in 10 Roma children in these countries have at some point attended a special education class or school that was designated specifically for Roma people. 66 Policy makers have historically failed to address this racially discriminating practice and have allowed it to continue by turning a blind eye to the situation. 67 As more Roma children are placed in special education schools and programs, their access to a higher quality of education decreases.

Lack of Institutional Accommodation

The social status quo in the Roma community has been one of intermittent migration and travelling for employment, which creates an institutional barrier between the native population and the Roma people. Their historical pattern of migration created a difficult environment for their children’s steady and formal education, 68 and modern migratory practices continue to bar children from assimilating into mainstream schools because they often do not remain in the area long enough to establish themselves. 69 Although accurate and reliable data on the frequency of Roma migration is largely unavailable, 70 it has been established that many Roma families migrate seasonally while others move less frequently. 71 The European school system is not set up to accommodate children who only stay for a few months or a year and then leave the school district again, and there are not sufficient educational policies at the national and local level to aid in including Roma migrant children at school. 72

It is particularly difficult for migratory children to succeed in Romanian schools, where the educators tend to be more rigid in regard to Roma students. 73 This is not due to the official standards of the Romanian education system, which is egalitarian and free for all students. 74 Rather, individual teachers uphold stereotypes at the classroom level, making it difficult for new Roma students to integrate into the school system. This institutional barrier is a major contributing factor to the lack of consistency and effectiveness in education for Roma children. A consistent primary education with teachers who know their students by name and who form positive relationships with them are major indicators for a student’s success. 75 Without this, students are much less likely to go on to complete high school or university. 76 One specific issue Roma children face in the education system is being forced to learn the national language, and sometimes being unable to communicate with their teacher in their native tongue, Roma people. It is an Indo-Aryan language, closely associated with other Indian languages, and has extensive borrowings from other European languages. It is mainly spoken rather than written. Romani is also the adjective used to describe the Roma culture.">Romani. 77 This language barrier does not easily foster understanding and learning between the teacher and student, contributing to educational disparities.

Despite a lack of concrete data on the effects migration has specifically on Roma children’s education, based on data in other cultures, it is clear that the steady migration of the Roma presents a unique challenge for eastern European educational institutions. A study conducted in the United States in 2010 on child mobility found that mobility has a negative impact on academic achievement, as seen in lower standardized test scores and higher dropout rates. 78 Another American study on family relocation reported that children who moved often (6 or more times before age 18), were between 50–100% more likely to report a developmental problem or a learning disorder, repeat a grade, or experience behavioral problems when compared to those children who never or infrequently moved. 79 Many school systems in eastern Europe lack the kind of educator and institutional accommodation that traveling Roma students need, contributing to and perpetuating educational disparity within the Roma community.

Cultural Traditions

Occupational Traditions

The Roma ethnic minority has a distinct culture that sets them apart from other ethnic minorities in the EU. Their cultural values do not always align with the goals of the modern labor market, creating a cycle of poverty and inequality. For example, a 2012 report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) shows that Roma students who were able to complete primary and high school had a higher tendency to go on to complete vocational training instead of university degrees. 80 This could be due to the traditional vocational jobs Roma people have, such as carpenters, musicians, or cobblers. 81 This firm grasp on their culture is not inherently negative and in fact leads to a beneficial preservation of many cultural practices that have been lost in other populations, but it does create problems for the children of Roma workers who are in need of primary and secondary education to succeed financially in the modern world. This is partially because these occupations often cause the family to be migratory to continue to find work, and partially because many Roma children are less motivated to succeed in school when they do not have any clear role models of educational and modern occupational success in the home. 82 Poverty is thus perpetuated not only by the outside influence of native Europeans, but also inadvertently from Roma people themselves in holding to their cultural values of vocational employment and travelling for work, instead of receiving university degrees. 83

Early Marriage

The traditional culture of marrying early inhibits young girls' access to education and contributes to their lack of further educational opportunity because of marital responsibilities in the home. This practice has affected school attendance for 6.6% of Roma youth in Romania, mostly girls. 84 A 2013 study done in Romania showed that 55% of Roma girls had their first pregnancy when they were still minors, compared to 14% of the comparative sample of non-Roma women. 85 When these girls are less able to attend and finish school, this affects their ability to go on to higher education, and limits their job options.

Due to unregistered marriages or countries not disaggregating child marriages based on ethnicity, there is a lack of statistical data on this subject, however, one report stated that in Romania, 53% of Roma women surveyed were married before the age of 18, as well as 43% of their daughters. Furthermore, 43% of those surveyed had a child before the age of 19, and the average age of childbirth among Roma women was five years below Romania’s national average age of 24. 86 In surveyed southeastern Europe countries, 31% of Roma men and 33% of Roma women preferred to have their daughter married before she completed basic education to ensure that she did not lose her virginity before marriage. 87 This fairly common occurrence of early marriage and early childbirth keeps young women in the home rather than allowing them to complete their education.

Rural and Neighborhood Segregation

The Roma ethnic minority is often physically segregated from European society in neighborhood ghettos, rural villages, or unofficial camps. Roma school children are often surrounded by schools that are known to be low-achieving and sparsely funded, 88 or are without access to transportation to school. 89 While this is not the sole reason for the Roma’s non-involvement, segregation into ghettos and Roma-only villages adds to the difficulties Roma communities face when integrating into the education system.

Many Roma children are limited academically because they are segregated into poorer communities near lower-achieving schools. A 2017 report showed that across a sample of European cities, 17.5% of cities had Roma people living predominantly in camps, caravans or mobile homes, while in 30.5% of cities, Roma lived predominately in public city housing. 90 Another survey reported that in Romania, 35% of Romanian participants thought that Roma people and native Romanians should not live in the same neighborhoods, but that Roma should live isolated from the rest of society. 91 This rural and neighborhood segregation creates barriers for Roma children to go to high-achieving schools, which are usually situated in wealthier neighborhoods. 92

Exclusively Roma enclaves exist in every major city or town in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, former Yugoslavia, and Slovakia. 93 In order to travel from these enclaves to school, public transportation—such as buses, metros, or trams—is necessary because in the countryside, Roma people often use horse-driven carts, and in the city they are less likely to own cars. A 2006 study in Bulgaria reported that 51% of ethnic Bulgarians owned a car, whereas only 19% of ethnically Roma people did. 94 However, Roma children have limited accessibility to public transportation. Many villages surrounding the Romanian city of Bra?ov, for example, sit at a distance of around 30 km (18 miles) from the city center. 95 By bus, this usually takes approximately one hour in travel time with an additional 15 to 30 minutes on a city bus once inside the city. Besides the significant amount of time it would take to travel to school using public transportation, it is also expensive to travel these distances, especially for the already economically-disadvantaged Roma population.

A lack of access to transportation has led to specific educational pitfalls for Roma families. In an interview with a local from Bra?ov, România, ethnic Roma primary school psychologist Dima Doru stated that there were insufficient schools in the countryside near Bra?ov, forcing Roma students to commute long distances to school everyday, often creating obstacles in attending regularly. 96 Additionally, without adequate transportation and long distances between home and school due to segregation, Roma parents do not get involved in school meetings, establish relationships with teachers, or socialize with other parents, which would help the students to have a more successful academic career. 97 Roma children are also limited in their participation in extracurricular activities such as sports, choirs, or clubs, which would further enrich their educational experience. 98

Consequences

Illiteracy

Illiteracy is a direct consequence of educational disparity because as Roma children receive a lower quality of education and experience more difficulties succeeding in school, they are less likely to develop the same literacy skills as their non-Roma peers. In a study of the Roma population across 11 EU member states, 20% of respondents aged 16 and up said that they could neither read nor write, as compared to 1% of non-Roma living close by. 99 Another study across western and eastern Europe found that 10% of Roma people are completely illiterate. 100 This statistic includes adults as well as children, demonstrating that illiteracy in the national language affects all age groups within the Roma population and is not a recent phenomenon. Roma girls also tend to be less literate than Roma boys; in one study, 20% of Roma boys were reported to be illiterate, compared to about 25% of girls. 101

Additionally, preschool enrollment rates for Roma children are much lower than the national average, despite slow improvements. 102 Preschool attendance is crucial in establishing a positive path in early child development and has been shown to improve literacy in children, 103 especially for those from impoverished backgrounds who have fewer opportunities for development outside of preschool. 104 Roma children are put at a disadvantage for becoming fully literate starting at a very young age both due to their lower socioeconomic status and their lower preschool attendance.

Not only do children who experience educational disparities struggle to become fully literate in the national language of the countries they live in, but Roma parents are often ill-equipped to effectively teach their children Roma culture.">Romani, their native tongue; this perpetuates the cycle of illiteracy to the next generation. Roma children often grow up in households with illiterate parents, creating a difficult learning environment for children because their parents are less able to support them in their learning. Romani, the language of the Roma, is primarily a spoken language 105 and does not have its own alphabet, instead using the alphabet of the language spoken by the native population. 106 Without Romani being taught in primary school, Roma children remain without a formal education about their native tongue. Illiteracy in both the language spoken by the majority population and in Romani is a direct consequence of educational disparities in Roma society and is perpetuated intergenerationally from illiterate parents to their children.

Low Employability

A major consequence stemming from educational disparities is labor market disadvantage. There are fewer employment opportunities for Roma people due to low educational attainment. Some Roma may want to carry on their traditional vocations—such as carpentry, shoemaking, and singing, 107 or are enlisted in menial public works jobs 108 —while others may desire to enter into more modern jobs. Those desiring the latter often do not have the skillset to do so, while those choosing the former are often further alienated from the rest of society and do not contribute to economic growth. 109 Because fewer Roma people graduate from high school, the Roma entering the workforce are underrepresented. 110 Low academic achievement for Roma people leads to fewer marketable skills and being less able to contribute to the modern workforce in positions involving technology, medicine, and business. 111 To find employment in eastern Europe’s recently emergent capitalist culture, one needs educational and professional qualifications, disadvantaging Roma groups who have not received an adequate education. 112

Low employability and lack of integration into the labor market has sustained the cycle of social discrimination and disintegration in public schools. 113 Those Roma who do not finish primary or high school also suffer from a lack of social skills, which are very integral for attaining and maintaining a steady job. 114 The development of soft skills, such as conscientiousness, problem-solving, amiability, and openness to experience are correlated with success in education and employment. 115 Research has shown that workers who are both socially and technically affluent are best equipped to navigate the modern economy. This is seen by an increase of 7.2% in available jobs for people with both social and technical skills, and a 26% wage increase for those people between 1980 and 2012. 116 This shows that having both social as well as technical skills places a worker in a position to earn higher wages and to be highly valued in their company. However, the Roma are generally lacking in both social and technical skills due to diminished educational opportunity. When Roma children are unable to attend school regularly, they are not learning social cues and norms in school environments amongst peers and classmates, worsening their chances of success in the labor market. 117

European Roma adults ages 16–24 face an unemployment rate of 58%, compared to 19% of non-Roma of the same age group. These statistics account for not only non-employed adults, but also for those who are not in education or training. 118 Not only is it hard to get a well-paying job, Roma workers are also often among the first to be laid off. 119 This is in part due to workplace social discrimination, where Roma employees also often find it harder to receive assignments and promotions. 120 Their lower social position and lack of educational achievement perpetuates mass structural unemployment and lower chances of employability.

Perpetuated Poverty

Another consequence of educational disparity is perpetuated poverty. As previously discussed, poverty can also be a contributing factor to decreased educational opportunities, given that a decreased standard of living amongst Roma groups coincides with Roma parents being unable to send their children to preschool or introduce them to writing materials from a young age. 121 Without these basic resources, Roma children’s educational opportunities are compromised starting at a young age. This continues the cycle of poverty and low educational achievement to the next generation of Roma children as they are impacted by their parents’ social and economic disadvantages. Without a good education, they are not able to lift themselves out of their impoverished state and often continue to live in impoverished areas, further perpetuating the issue. 122 The neighborhood Ferentari in Bucharest, Romania is a prime example of these impoverished ghettos that the Roma often live in generation after generation. 123 It was abandoned by some soldiers and workers from a nearby company that dissolved years ago. The apartment blocks and flats are in ruin and the government has stopped providing sewage systems to the neighborhood, creating a dirty living environment with flooded basements full of sewage water from burst pipes. Yet, the undersized apartments are occupied by Roma families who have taken refuge there, not having the money to move somewhere else, despite being employed. 124 This impoverished state is in part a result of a lack of opportunity for advancement through education.

Educational segregation is correlated with perpetuated poverty, with those attending segregated schools also tending to be from more impoverished households. Roma with an equivalised income below 60% of the national median equivalised disposable income are more likely to study at segregated schools in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Greece than non-Roma children from impoverished households. 125 Students at low-achieving schools are at risk of having lower growth than students at more affluent schools. If students are both low-achieving and low-growing, it is likely they are not being served well. 126 Oftentimes in these circumstances, Roma children do not finish primary and high school, leaving before they gain the skills needed to succeed in society and get out of poverty.

A 2014 study of eastern European countries showed that 14% of Roma children were not attending compulsory education, in contrast to around 3% of non-Roma children. 127 Since many Roma adults do not enter society with marketable skills from receiving an education, poverty is perpetuated rather than reduced. Perpetuated poverty is a direct consequence of educational disparities as it sustains the status quo of the economically and socially excluded Roma child in the education system.

Practices

Employ Recent University Graduates with Diversity Awareness Training as Teachers

One of the ways in which the disparities between educational attainment of Roma and non-Roma individuals can be decreased is by ensuring the fair treatment of minority groups in schools. 128 Research shows that there is institutional social discrimination and stereotyping in teachers’ practices toward Roma students, leading to disadvantages when compared to majority groups. 129 Employing university graduates who have undergone bias training to work as Roma school teachers can help create more equal practices in classrooms by bringing in a fresh, new perspective to primary education from a person who recently completed their own education, and who is committed to aid in raising up the next generation of leaders by implementing culturally sensitive classroom techniques.

Teach For All is a non-profit organization striving to help those who lack educational opportunity to have a better experience in the classroom and become leaders. They have sub-organizations in all of the countries they operate in, with Teach For Romania being a major influence in eastern Europe. Their main goals group families and educators together in hopes of providing a solid foundation for children’s academic success. They “envision a world where educators, policymakers, parents, and students are working together to ensure that their communities’ children have the foundation they need to shape a better future for themselves and all of us.” 130 Teach For All seeks to recruit recently-graduated young adults to work in classrooms in low-income areas, and acts as a middleman in helping them be hired in local school systems that are experiencing a shortage of teachers. Teach For All provides training for these graduates on how to manage cultural and socioeconomic diversity and foster leadership amongst students, which makes these teachers better equipped to help Roma children succeed than other teachers. These men and women who dedicate their efforts in assisting underprivileged youth help increase students’ educational potential. Students' mindsets are changed to focus on what they could become and how to take advantage of the opportunities given to them. Together, Teach For All teachers and their students commit to aid in a “system-wide change” in the education system. 131

In Romania and many places in eastern Europe, Teach For All specifically focuses on the Roma community due to their socioeconomic circumstances. Teach For Romania emphasizes developing leadership in the classroom and the community in order to expand disadvantaged childrens’ opportunity to fulfill their potential. They call on local graduates in diverse fields to inspire the new generation of Roma children by working with them in the classroom for two years, prioritizing the areas with the most need. According to the 2019 annual report for Teach For Romania, all team members were Romanian, not American or eastern European. 132 This is very important in demonstrating the value of this organization because native Romanian university graduates provide a crucial perspective on how to effectively interact with the Roma populations that live amongst them, as opposed to the outside and possibly ethnocentric perspectives of Americans or western Europeans. 133

Impact

Teach For All is deploying over 14,000 teachers who have committed two years of their lives to help minority students receive an equal level of education as majority students. Teach For All teachers have taught over 1 million students around the world, and 70% of alumni teachers continue to impact these disadvantaged students today by becoming full-time teachers, social entrepreneurs, and government officials who seek to create greater educational equality for minority populations. 134 Teach For Romania was opened in 2014, and has been able to increase the number of schools with Teach For Romania recruits from 15 in 2014 to 108 in 2019. They also began with 2,500 children involved, and reached 10,000 children in 2019. 135 These outputs show the recent effort in Romania to create a learning environment where students from all socioeconomic backgrounds can participate and contribute in the classroom.

One way that Teach For Romania has seen impact is in the connections students keep with their teachers through Facebook groups. Each year since Teach For Romania was launched in 2014, a Facebook page has been created for the children to keep in contact with their teachers. These teachers are true mentors for the children inside and outside of the classroom, which is something distinct and positive when compared to other public school teachers. Teach For Romania impacts their students by changing their attitudes toward education and motivating them to achieve more, which is easy to see in the videos and updates posted from students. Although there is no official data on impact evaluation, Teach For Romania is a professional organization that publicly tracks its progress in outputs from annual reports. 136

Gaps

Although Teach For All has teachers all over the world, many are concentrated in a single city (usually the capital) in their native country. Teach For All has great depth but limited breadth, meaning that they serve isolated communities where teachers are available, but their programs are not widespread. This limits their capacity to reach diverse communities in regions outside of large cities. In order to improve their services, Teach For All could expand their recruiting efforts to eliminate this gap of unequal distribution of teachers.

Finally, Teach For All seems to focus the information on their website on outcomes and impacts for teachers involved but is lacking information on outcomes and impacts for students. They appear to be more geared toward faculty recruitment than they are to recording change over time in students’ lives due to their intervention. Furthermore, all of the statistics reported are output data rather than outcomes or impact, and none of the data is specific to the Roma population, meaning there is no way of knowing exactly how impactful Teach For All’s interventions have been on helping Roma children.

Employing Roma Teachers and Mentors

Another practice that can be implemented in order to aid Roma students in their educational integration is finding teachers, mentors, and tutors that can truly connect with and understand their students from these minority backgrounds. 137 Training Roma adults to be teachers helps solve this social problem because of the cultural connection between the teacher and the students, thereby decreasing the prevalence of racial and cultural bias. Without a language barrier, Roma teachers and students can communicate freely in their native language, Romani, aiding in the learning process. This allows more employment opportunities for Roma adults, therefore decreasing the amount of Roma adults in poverty and mitigating one of the consequences of educational disparities for the Roma people.

The Roma Education Fund (REF) is a non-profit organization that creates initiatives for the inclusion of Roma citizens as teachers to reduce the educational achievement gap between Roma and non-Roma people in Europe. 138 This is accomplished by developing programs to promote quality education for Roma students by recruiting native speakers of Romani to become elementary school teachers as well as mentors and tutors for the students. Giving students the legal right and option to learn Romani in the classroom does not replace learning national languages, rather it is included in school curriculums. These teachers have an advantage in a classroom of Roma children because they are able to communicate in Romani, and they share similar cultural traditions. REF facilitates training programs for future teachers of the Romani language to help reduce illiteracy amongst Roma school children. REF officers perform regular monitoring visits to each location where projects are being held in order to understand whether the established objectives are on track to being accomplished and whether there are any challenges in their implementation.

These Roma teachers and mentors constantly work for further integration with mainstream or standardized schools, and they believe in the equal opportunity for their students of all races. The goal of school desegregation will provide more resources to Roma students (such as other students and teachers, textbooks, and science labs), all of which contribute to a better education. 139 Roma teachers are an important example for Roma children in seeing their potential and being able to advance in school in their native tongue. This increases literacy and cultural understanding between the teacher and the student, thus helping to close the educational gap between Roma and non-Roma children. 140

Impact

The REF measures outcomes through statistical monitoring and evaluation in the Roma communities in which they are involved. At the end of a project’s duration, parents and students are divided into focus groups to assess the outcomes of the program and provide feedback as to the impact of the initiative on the community, families, and school system. In one particular project on the influence of Roma educational mediators/tutors, they found that REF educational mediators “help the inclusion of Roma children in primary education, to assist towards the continuity and retention of Roma pupils in the educational process, and to facilitate the communication between the school, the parents, the community, the local government and the civil sector.” Educational mediators helped increase language and mathematics knowledge for 1,600 Roma students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade in the 2017–18 school year, reaching 100% of the target group. Many tutors were Roma graduates, which proved to be a major motivator for Roma students. 141

Another project REF took on in the 2018–19 school year involved preventing primary school dropouts by providing Roma students with after-school tutoring and mentoring programs and remedial classes, often by recent Roma graduates. Through these programs, a 91% attendance rate and a 100% graduation rate were attained, demonstrating the importance of the practice of employing Roma teachers and mentors in measuring the success of young Roma students. 142

Gaps

While these are good output measurements, REF’s website is lacking in concrete impact information, likely because it is focused in multiple locations and doesn’t have the resources to find a comprehensive way of measuring impact over time. One foreseeable gap in the REF’s model is precision in following up with the various programs they have implemented over longer periods of time. REF is very action-focused and successful during the time they are working with various other associations on a common program, but it is questionable as to if the programs and initiatives they have implemented are sustainable after they leave.

Another gap in the REF is a lack of focus on changing the attitudes of the native population to bring an end to segregation against Roma people in the education system. REF seems to be successful at solving negative consequences of the problem at hand but have not found a way to create long-term change. This may be due to a lack of concrete impact measurements and succinct information.

Early Childhood Education Programs

Childcare and development programs for Roma infants and young children is another area of concern in the process of establishing educational equality for the Roma people in eastern Europe. Often, Roma children grow up in impoverished circumstances, preventing them from entering preschool and thus setting a negative trajectory for their educational achievement from this young age. 143

Romani Early Years Network (REYN) is an organization focusing on the establishment of more early childhood development institutions or clinics in areas with high densities of Roma people. Their main goal is to provide equal opportunities for Romani children through successful implementation of early childhood education and care programs for Roma populations across the EU, knowing that the first three years of a child’s life are the most critical in the child’s development and for future success in school. 144 REYN identifies the most vulnerable Roma populations and sends in early childhood development (ECD) professionals to work with Roma families by providing inter-cultural early childhood development provisions and services in preschools, nurseries, and social and child protection services. They also provide opportunities for infants and toddlers to learn basic skills, with an emphasis on literacy.

Furthermore, REYN strives to ensure that policymakers are providing adequate resources to preschool education in the area. REYN has created an advocacy team focused on lobbying EU leaders to develop National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS), with early childhood education being their primary concern. They call on national governments to prioritize early education in their integration strategies. Additionally, REYN creates pathways for Roma adults to become certified ECD professionals and work with children in problem areas. This holistic approach provides resources for young Roma children to begin their education early and alongside the rest of the population, while also helping Roma adults find a meaningful job working as ECD professionals.

Impact

REYN and its partner, Together Old and Young, created a project titled Toy For Inclusion, which involves Roma and non-Roma families engaging in intergenerational activities taking place in “play hubs,” or safe spaces to recreate interculturally and to forge friendship and trust. This project benefits Roma children by providing a place for them to build social skills, borrow high-quality learning materials, and learn how to interact with other young children who are different than they are, simultaneously preparing them to start their formal education in preschool or kindergarten. 145 Over 6,400 children are involved in the integration effort, and 14 play hubs have been built since 2018. Over 30% of the children REYN reached came from vulnerable groups, many of whom were Roma. 146 Toy For Inclusion has a presence in 8 countries all over Europe, with a majority in eastern and southern Europe. According to REYN, Roma families have reported increased trust in their local services and community leaders. 147 The success of this program has attracted the attention of the European Parliament, which has led to REYN leaders being able to give presentations on Toy For Inclusion at conferences and major events. Although this is not necessarily an impact factor, REYN seems to be gaining traction in the EU community. They would benefit from establishing clear impact measurements within their partnerships to add credibility to their programs.

Gaps

Although REYN has a lot of good information listed on their website about their goals, there is a lack of concrete data analysis. It is difficult to find statistics or reports on projects because of a lack of data. REYN claims to be focused on education, but the organization seems to actually be targeting family and social integration rather than early childhood development curriculums. Due to the website’s vague descriptions, there are unclear impacts for the children the ECD professionals work with. Even though REYN does not offer clear impact analysis, implementing programs for early childhood development is still important, especially in combating illiteracy, segregation, and perpetuated poverty, making this practice important to the educational success of Roma children.

Key Takeaways

  • There are many Roma children that are misplaced into special education schools or misdiagnosed with mental disabilities due to racial discrimination.
  • White Europeans often do not understand or refuse to accommodate the migratory culture of the Roma, contributing to their social discrimination.
  • The educational system in eastern European countries is continuously impacted by the lack of a firm legal structure that protects Roma people against injustice.
  • Exclusively Roma enclaves exist in nearly every major city or town in eastern Europe, contributing to neighborhood segregation.
  • The Roma culture traditionally encourages men to take vocational jobs rather than integrate into the mainstream labor force.
  • Presently, 10% of Roma people are completely illiterate. There are differing literacy rates between boys and girls—20% of Roma boys are reported to be illiterate, compared to about 25% of girls.
by Morgan Selander and Emily Walter

Morgan is a European Studies major with a double minor in Global Business

Emily is a Junior at BYU majoring in Latin American Studies and minoring in International Development. She served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Montevideo, Uruguay for 18 months and grew to love the people there. Emily's dream is to work within the Humanitarian effort for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and would like to aid those in Latin American countries. Her hope is to give children increased educational opportunities within Latin America and help them have the desire to pursue a secondary education.


Volume 2

EDUCATION
IMMIGRATION
GOVERNMENT
PUBLIC POLICY
CONFLICT
HOMELESSNESS
EUROPE
REFUGEES
CHILDREN
1003
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1 “Institutional Barriers & Their Effects: How Can I Talk to Colleagues about These Issues?” National Center for Women & Information Technology, May 6, 2009, https://www.ncwit.org/resources/institutional-barriers-their-effects-how-can-i-talk-colleagues-about-these-issues.

2 Dinesh Bhugra, “Social Discrimination and Social Justice,” International Review of Psychiatry 28, no. 4, July 29, 2016, https://doi.org/10.1080/09540261.2016.1210359.

3 “Early Child Development,” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, March 6, 2020, https://www.who.int/topics/early-child-development/en/.

4 “History of the Romani Language,” The University of Manchester, accessed 27 July, 2020, https://romani.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/whatis/language/origins.shtml.

5 Donald Kenrick, “Historical Dictionary of the Gypsies,” Historical Dictionaries of Peoples and Cultures, No. 7. The Scarecrow Press Inc, 2007, https://www.gitanos.org/documentos/1.1-KEN-his_HistoricalDictionaryoftheGypsies.pdf.

6 Andy Hegedus, “Evaluating the Relationships Between Poverty and School Performance,” NWEA Research, October 2018, https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED593828.

7 Ibid.

8 “Compulsory Education in Europe 2018/19,” EACEA, September 2018, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/sites/eurydice/files/compulsory_education_2018_19.pdf.

9 Jack Greenberg, “Report on Roma Education Today: From Slavery to Segregation and Beyond,” Columbia Law Review 110, no. 4 (May 2010): 919–1001, https://www.jstor.org/stable/27806640.

10 Carol Silverman, “PERSECUTION AND POLITICIZATION: ROMA (GYPSIES) OF EASTERN EUROPE,” Cultural Survival, vol 19, 1995, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/persecution-and-politicization-roma-gypsies-eastern-europe.

11 Derek Scalley, “Discrimination against Roma traced back to Middle Ages,” The Irish Times, October 27, 2013, https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/discrimination-against-roma-traced-back-to-middle-ages-1.1575257.

12 Špela Humljan Urh, “Roma People: Discrimination and Social Work Practice,” International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2015, pp. 754–760, https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-08-097086-8.28080-x.

13 Ibid.

14 Kay Randall, “What's in a Name? Professor takes on roles of Romani activist and spokesperson to improve plight of their ethnic group," University of Texas at Austin, May 2, 2016, https://web.archive.org/web/20160502215055/http://www.utexas.edu/features/archive/2003/romani.html.

15 Kenrick, “Historical Dictionary of the Gypsies.”

16 R.W-M., “Ire of the ?igan,” The Economist, December 8, 2010, https://www.economist.com/eastern-approaches/2010/12/08/ire-of-the-tigan.

17 Michael Teichmann, "Professions,” Rombase, November 2002, http://rombase.uni-graz.at/cgi-bin/art.cgi?src=data/ethn/work/prof.en.xml.

18 “Roma Integration in Bulgaria,” European Commission, accessed February 27, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-bulgaria_en#:~:text=The%20Council%20of%20Europe%20estimates,10.33%25%20of%20the%20population).

19 “Roma Integration in Romania,” European Commission, accessed February 27, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-romania_en#:~:text=Facts%20and%20figures,8.32%25%20of%20the%20population.

20 “Roma integration in Hungary,” European Commission, accessed February 27, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-hungary_en.

21 “Roma integration in Slovakia,” European Commission, accessed February 27, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-slovakia_en.

22 “Roma Integration in the Czech Republic,” European Commission, accessed February 27, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-czech-republic_en#:~:text=The%20Council%20of%20Europe%20estimates,1.93%25%20of%20the%20population).

23 Christine O'Hanlon, “The European Struggle to Educate and Include Roma People: A Critique of Differences in Policy and Practice in Western and Eastern EU Countries,” Social Inclusion 4, no. 1 (2016): 1, http://doi.org/10.17645/si.v4i1.363.

24 Yaron Matras, I Met Lucky People: The Story of the Romani Gypsies, (London, Penguin, 2014), p. 173.

25 “Strategy of the Government of Romania for the Inclusion of the Romanian Citizens Belonging to Roma Minority For the Period 2012–2020,” European Commission, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/roma_romania_strategy_en.pdf.

26 Matras, I Met Lucky People.

27 O'Hanlon, “The European Struggle to Educate and Include Roma People.”

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid.

30 “National Integration Strategy of the Republic of Bulgaria (2012-2020),” European Commission, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/roma_bulgaria_strategy_en.pdf.

31 “Strategy of the Government of Romania,” European Commission.

32 “The Right of Roma Children to Education: Position Paper,” UNICEF, 2011, https://www.unicef.org/eca/sites/unicef.org.eca/files/2017-11/Roma_Position_Paper_-_June12.pdf.

33 Roxana Andrei, George Martinidis, and Tana Tkadlecova, “Challenges Faced by Roma Women in Europe on Education, Employment, Health and Housing - Focus on Czech Republic, Romania and Greece,” Balkan Social Science Review, Vol. 4, 323–351, 2014, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ffa8/cb1cbc2c627d9f2ea42370ed24ff67b25c7a.pdf.

34 Ibid.

35 Ibid.

36 O'Hanlon, “The European Struggle to Educate and Include Roma People.”

37 Richard Wike, et al., “Views on Minority Groups across Europe,” Pew Research Center, December 30, 2019, www.pewresearch.org/global/2019/10/14/minority-groups/.

38 Ibid.

39 “European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey - Main Results Report,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, December 9, 2009, https://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2012/european-union-minorities-and-discrimination-survey-main-results-report.

40 “Data in Focus Report | The Roma,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2009, http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/413-EU-MIDIS_ROMA_EN.pdf.

41 Lilla Farkas, “Report on Discrimination of Roma Children in Education,” European Network of Legal Experts in the Non-Discrimination Field, October 2014, https://tandis.odihr.pl/bitstream/20.500.12389/21933/1/08101.pdf.

42 Ibid.

43 “The Impact of Legislation and Policies on School Segregation of Romani Children,” European Roma Rights Centre, February 16, 2007, http://www.errc.org/reports-and-submissions/the-impact-of-legislation-and-policies-on-school-segregation-of-romani-children.

44 Iskra Kirova, “The Decade of Roma Inclusion: Addressing Racial Discrimination Through Development,” United Nations, accessed February 27, 2020, https://www.un.org/en/chronicle/article/decade-roma-inclusion-addressing-racial-discrimination-through-development.

45 “The Impact of the Racial Equality Directive,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, June 21, 2011, https://doi.org/10.2811/29280.

46 “The Impact of Legislation and Policies,” European Roma Rights Centre.

47 Helen O'Nions, "Warehouses and Window-Dressing. A Legal Perspective on Educational Segregation in Europe," ZEP: Zeitschrift für internationale Bildungsforschung und Entwicklungspädagogik 38, no. 1 (2015): 4–10, https://www.pedocs.de/volltexte/2017/14009/pdf/ZEP_1_2015_ONions_Warehouses_and_Window_Dressing.pdf.

48 Martin Kovats, “The Political Significance of the First National Gypsy Minority Self-Government in Hungary,” Contemporary Politics, 6, no. 3 (2000): 247–262, https://doi.org/10.1080/713658366.

49 Chuck Sudetic, “Roma in Political Life: Romania—’Household Roma,’ Mayors, and .3 Percent,” Open Society Foundations, September 10, 2013, https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/roma-political-life-romania-household-roma-mayors-and-3-percent.

50 “Roma Integration in Romania: Funding, strategy, facts and figures and contact details for national Roma contact points in Romania,” European Commission, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-romania_en#:~:text=Facts%20and%20figures,8.32%25%20of%20the%20population.

51 Robin Nicole Johnson-Ahorlu, “The Academic Opportunity Gap: How Racism and Stereotypes Disrupt the Education of African American Undergraduates,” Race Ethnicity and Education, 15 no. 5, (2010): 633–652, https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2011.645566.

52 “Equal Access To Quality Education For Roma,” Open Society Institute, 2007, https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/uploads/eb0499be-cdc3-4fc2-a327-deaf040c256b/2roma_20070329_0.pdf.

53 “Education: The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, October 30, 2014, https://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2014/education-situation-roma-11-eu-member-states.

54 Jacqueline Bhabha, Human Rights and Adolescence, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.

55 Ibid.

56 “Education: The Situation of Roma,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

57 Gabriela Walker, “Overrepresented Minorities in Special Education in the United States and Romania: Comparison between African-American and Roma Populations in Disability Studies,” Research in Comparative and International Education 3, no. 4 (December 2008): 394–403, https://doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2008.3.4.394.

58 “Case DH vs Czech Republic,” European Court of Human Rights, November 13, 2007, https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/fre#{"itemid":["001-83256"]}.

59 Julia M. White, “Pitfalls and Bias: Entry Testing and the Overrepresentation of Romani Children in Special Education,” Roma Education Fund, April 2012, https://www.romaeducationfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/pitfalls-and-bias-screen_singlepages.pdf

60 “Education: The Situation of Roma,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

61 White, “Pitfalls and Bias.”

62 Walker, “Overrepresented Minorities in Special Education.”

63 White, “Pitfalls and Bias.”

64 Ibid.

65 “Education: The Situation of Roma,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

66 Farkas, “Report on Discrimination of Roma Children in Education.”

67 Urh, “Roma People: Discrimination and Social Work Practice.”

68 Bhabha, Human Rights and Adolescence.

69 Cahn and Guild, “Recent Migration of Roma in Europe,” Commissioner for Human Rights, December 10, 2008, https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/4/d/78034.pdf.

70 Bhabha, Human Rights and Adolescence.

71 Nafsika Alexiadou, “Framing Education Policies and Transitions of Roma Students in Europe,” Comparative Education, 55, no. 3, (2019): 422–442, https://doi.org/10.1080/03050068.2019.1619334.

72 Bhabha, Human Rights and Adolescence.

73 “Regulamentul de Organizare ?i Func?ionare a Ministerului Educa?iei Na?ionale,” Ministerul Educa?iei Na?ionale, 2017, https://www.edu.ro/sites/default/files/OMEN%204982_2017.pdf

74 Sara Rimm-Kaufman and Lia Sandilos, “Improving Students' Relationships with Teachers to Provide Essential Supports for Learning,” American Psychological Association, 2010, https://www.apa.org/education/k12/relationships.

75 “Strategy of the Government of Romania,” European Commission.

76 “Evolutia Educa?iei Romilor în România,” Roma Education Fund, 2007, https://www.romaeducationfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/web_romania_report_romanian.pdf

77 “K-12 Education: Many Challenges Arise in Educating Students Who Change Schools Frequently,” United States Government Accountability Office, December 20, 2010, https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-40.

78 David Wood et al., "Impact of Family Relocation on Children's Growth, Development, School Function, and Behavior," JAMA 270, no. 11 (1993): 1334–1338, https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.1993.03510110074035.

79 “FRANET National Focal Point | Social Thematic Study | The Situation of Roma,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2012, https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/situation-of-roma-2012-nl-v1-1.pdf.

80 Teichmann, "Professions.”

81 Interview with Dima Doru, an ethnic Roma school psychologist in Bra?ov, România, 7 May, 2020.

82 “FRANET National Focal Point,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

83 Eugen Crai, “Early and Forced Marriages in Roma Communities,” Council of Europe CAHROM, 2015, https://cs.coe.int/team20/cahrom/_layouts/15/WopiFrame.aspx?sourcedoc=/team20/cahrom/9th%20CAHROM%20Plenary%20meeting/Item%2009%20-%20Early%20and%20Forced%20Marriages%20in%20Roma%20communities%20in%20Romania.docx&action=default.

84 Branislava Bošnjak and Thomas Acton, “Virginity and Early Marriage Customs in Relation to Children's Rights among Chergashe Roma from Serbia and Bosnia,” The International Journal of Human Rights, 17, no 5–6, (2013): 646–667, https://doi.org/10.1080/13642987.2013.831697.

85 Mihai Surdu, “Broadening the Agenda: The Status of Romani Women in Romania,” Open Society Foundations, March 2006, https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/publications/broadening-agenda-status-romani-women-romania.

86 Monica Robayo et al., “Closing the Gender Gaps among Marginalized Roma in the Western Balkans (English),” The World Bank, June 17, 2019, http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/994401560763568796/Closing-the-Gender-Gaps-among-Marginalized-Roma-in-the-Western-Balkans.

87 Hegedus, “Evaluating the Relationships between Poverty and School Performance.”

88 “FRANET National Focal Point,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

89 “Mapping of the Situation of Roma in Cities in Europe,” Euro Cities, August 2017, http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/Mapping_of_the_situation_of_Roma_in_cities_FINAL_REPORT.pdf.

90 Gabriel Andreescu, Schimb?ri în harta etnic? a României, Centrul de Resurse pentru Diversitate Etnocultural?, 2005.

91 Hegedus, “Evaluating the Relationships between Poverty and School Performance.”

92 Jack Greenberg, “Report on Roma Education Today: From Slavery to Segregation and Beyond,” Columbia Law Review 110, no. 4 (May 2010): 919–1001, https://www.jstor.org/stable/27806640.

93 Philip Gounev, "Police Stops and Ethnic Profiling in Bulgaria," CSD, 2006.

94 “Directions for driving from Bra?ov to Rotbav,” Google Maps, accessed 8 July, 2020, https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Bra%C8%99ov,+Romania/rotbav/@45.7486426,25.4436799,11z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x40b35b862aa214f1:0x6cf5f2ef54391e0f!2m2!1d25.6011977!2d45.6579755!1m5!1m1!1s0x40b4a9429c204edf:0xe3c6fd3131b82b8e!2m2!1d25.5540107!2d45.8399536!3e3.

95 Interview with Dima Doru, an ethnic Roma school psychologist in Bra?ov, România, May 7, 2020.

96 Jacqueline Bhabha, Andrzej Mirga, and Margareta Matache, “Realizing Roma Rights,” University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017, https://cdn2.sph.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/114/2017/12/RealizRomaRightsTOCExSum.pdf.

97 Ibid.

98 “Education: The Situation of Roma,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

99 O'Hanlon, “The European Struggle to Educate and Include Roma People.”

100 “Roma Children,” UNICEF Europe and Central Asia, accessed February 28, 2020, https://www.unicef.org/eca/what-we-do/ending-child-poverty/roma-children.

101 “Toward an Equal Start: Closing the Early Learning Gap for Roma Children in Eastern Europe,” The World Bank, June 4, 2012, http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/843991468251107542/pdf/697290WP00PUBL00RomaECD0FinalReport.pdf.

102 Lori E. Skibbe et al. “Schooling Effects on Preschoolers' Self-Regulation, Early Literacy, and Language Growth,” Early Childhood Research Quarterly vol. 26,1 (2011): 42–49, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2010.05.001.

103 “Romani Children,” Romani Early Years Network, accessed February 28, 2020, https://www.reyn.eu/romani-children/.

104 Roxy Freeman, “Roma Culture beyond the Stereotypes,” The Guardian, April 22, 2010, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/apr/22/roma-culture-influence-mainstream.

105 Ronald Lee, “The Romani Language,” Kopachi, accessed February 28, 2020, https://kopachi.com/articles/the-romani-language-ronald-lee/.

106 Teichmann, "Professions.”

107 “Empowerment through Employment: Capitalizing on the Economic Opportunities of Roma Inclusion,” Open Society Foundations, September 18, 2012, https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/publications/empowerment-through-employment-capitalizing-economic-opportunities-roma-inclusion.

108 Ibid.

109 “Strategy of the Government of Romania,” European Commission.

110 Ibid.

111 O'Hanlon, “The European Struggle to Educate and Include Roma People.”

112 Niall O'Higgins, “‘It's Not That I'm a Racist, It's That They Are Roma’: Roma Discrimination and Returns to Education in South Eastern Europe,” International Journal of Manpower, vol. 31, no. 2, (2010): 163–187, https://doi.org/10.1108/01437721011042250.

113 M.P. Levinson, “Integration of Gypsy Roma Children in Schools: Trojan or Pantomime Horse?” in Roma Education in Europe, Maja Miskovic, (London: Routledge, 2013), pp. 100–110, https://www.routledge.com/Roma-Education-in-Europe-Practices-policies-and-politics/Miskovic/p/book/9780415535984.

114 “Why Education Matters to Health: Exploring the Causes,” Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health, February 13, 2015, https://societyhealth.vcu.edu/work/the-projects/why-education-matters-to-health-exploring-the-causes.html.

115 Alvin Powell, “Golden Age for Team Players,” The Harvard Gazette, October 23, 2017, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/10/social-skills-increasingly-valuable-to-employers-harvard-economist-finds/.

116 Levinson, “Integration of Gypsy Roma Children.”

117 “Poverty and Employment: The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2014, https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra-2014-roma-survey-employment_en.pdf.

118 Silverman, “PERSECUTION AND POLITICIZATION: ROMA (GYPSIES) OF EASTERN EUROPE.”

119 Ibid.

120 Helen O’Nions, “Divide and Teach: Educational Inequality and the Roma,” The International Journal of Human Rights, 14 no. 3, (2010): 464–489, https://doi.org/10.1080/13642980802704304.

121 “Education: The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

122 Jack Greenberg, “Report on Roma Education Today: From Slavery to Segregation and Beyond,” Columbia Law Review 110, no. 4, (May 2010): 919–1001, https://www.jstor.org/stable/27806640.

123 Ibid.

124 “Education: The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

125 Hegedus, “Evaluating the Relationships between Poverty and School Performance.”

126 “Education: The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

127 Walker, “Overrepresented Minorities in Special Education.”

128 “Education: The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

129 “Our Purpose,” Teach For All, accessed February 27, 2020, https://teachforall.org/.

130 “Teach for All,” Skoll, accessed February 27, 2020, https://skoll.org/organization/teach-for-all/.

131 “Raport de Activitate Teach For Romania 2019,” Teach For Romania, 2019, https://teachforromania.org/wp-content/uploads/2019-raport-teach-for-romania.pdf.

132 “Teach for All,” Skoll.

133 Ibid.

134 “Raport de Activitate Teach For Romania 2019,” Teach For Romania.

135 Ibid.

136 “Evolutia Educa?iei Romilor în România,” Roma Education Fund, 2007, https://www.romaeducationfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/web_romania_report_romanian.pdf.

137 “Evolutia Educa?iei Romilor în România,” Roma Education Fund.

138 Bhabha, Human Rights and Adolescence.

139 “Evolutia Educa?iei Romilor în România,” Roma Education Fund.

140 “Macedonian Government Institutionalizes the Profession of Roma Educational Mediator,” Roma Education Fund, May 7, 2018, https://www.romaeducationfund.org/macedonian-government-institutionalizes-the-profession-of-roma-educational-mediator/.

141 “2019 Annual Report Roma Education Fund,” Roma Education Fund, accessed February 28, 2020, https://www.romaeducationfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Short-report-REF-AR2019-1.pdf.

142 “Romani Children,” Romani Early Years Network, accessed February 28, 2020, www.reyn.eu/romani-children/.

143 Ibid.

144 “Play Hubs in Local Communities: the Toy For Inclusion Approach,” TOY For Inclusion, June 2020, https://www.reyn.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/FAQs-TOY-For-Inclusion.pdf.

145 “Romani Children,” Romani Early Years Network.

146 Ibid.

Your Comments

Lack of Educational Opportunities for the Roma People in Eastern Europe

Summary

The Roma people constitute one of the largest ethnic minorities in Europe, with 10 to 12 million Roma in the European Union as of 2016. Although they make up a large part of Europe, it has been difficult for the Roma people to fully integrate into society, causing educational gaps between Roma and native children. One contributing factor to this educational disparity is discrimination, both racial and social, against the Roma people; this is also closely tied to Roma placement in inferior, special education schools. Additionally, some cultural traditions of the Roma (such as their occupations, migratory patterns, and early marriage), the segregation of Roma communities, and the lack of accommodation by the government and school systems all act as barriers for Roma children to receive a quality education. All of these elements impact the Roma’s ability to become fully literate and employable and, consequently, lead to the perpetuated poverty of Roma families. Many organizations are working to solve this issue of educational inequality by employing university graduates with cultural diversity training to teach in low socio-economic areas, training native Roma to teach in primary schools, and offering quality early educational development services to Roma children.

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Key Terms

Institutional barriers - “Policies, procedures or situations that systematically disadvantage certain groups of people. [They] exist in any majority-minority group situation.” 1

Social discrimination - Continued unequal treatment on the basis of culture, religion, disability, sexual orientation or any other diversity. 2

Racial discrimination - Continued unequal treatment on the basis of skin color, ethnic origin, or racial origin.

Early childhood development - “(ECD) encompasses physical, socio emotional, cognitive and motor development between 0–8 years of age.” 3

Romani - The language of the Roma people. It is an Indo-Aryan language, closely associated with other Indian languages, and has extensive borrowings from other European languages. It is mainly spoken rather than written. Romani is also the adjective used to describe the Roma culture. 4

Roma - The terms Roma and Romani are used interchangeably in some countries to describe the ethnicity of people as well as their culture and language. Both terms are acceptable and politically correct, as opposed to the derogatory term “gypsy.” 5

Student academic growth - The change in educational achievement over time. 6

Student academic achievement - The change in student proficiency rates. 7

Compulsory education - “In most European education systems, full-time compulsory education/training lasts 9–10 years ending at the age of 15–16.” 8

Context

Since their initial migration to Europe from Northern India in the 12th century, 9 10 the Roma people have been a marginalized group in society. They originally came seeking liberation from the caste system in India with the hope of finding more opportunity in the west. A traditionally nomadic people, the Roma have spread throughout Europe looking for work 11 or avoiding political unrest and possible enslavement and persecution by majority populations. 12 Many Roma people travel seasonally to be with extended family or to follow international open-market trade activities. 13 Without a formal nation to call home, the ethnic group is often viewed as outsiders, and therefore threats to native populations and cultures. Although the Roma have been called a culturally nomadic people, current Roma groups are migratory not because of political circumstances or cultural tradition. Instead, their migratory nature can be attributed to seasonal jobs, international trade, and visiting extended family. 14

The Roma are popularly and discriminatorily known as “gypsies,” which is a racial slur connoting thievery, fortune-telling, or untidiness. 15 “Gypsy” in Slavic languages, “tsigan,” has roots in the Greek word “athinganos,” meaning “heathen.” 16 The Romanian derivation “tigan” is associated with the slavery that the Roma faced from 1385 to 1856, and implies that one is “untouchable.” 17 The Roma continue to be viewed as inferior in many countries today because their traditions are so different from those of majority cultures. Their culture is known for upholding the professions of their ancestors, carrying on trades such as blacksmiths, musicians, or carpenters, thus perpetuating subsistence and small-scale businesses. 18 Because they maintain this distinctive culture, it is often harder for Roma people to reconcile assimilation into modern society with cultural traditions, which are typically a source of strength and solidarity in Roma communities. While they should not be expected to sacrifice their traditions in order to receive the same rights and treatment as the majority populations, this lack of social and economic assimilation is a significant contributor to the Roma’s disadvantaged situation.

Even though ethnically Roma people can be found all over the world, they have settled primarily in eastern Europe. They consist of 10.33% of the population in Bulgaria, 19 8.32% of the total population in Romania, 20 7.05% of the total population in Hungary, 21 9.0% of the total population in Slovakia, 22 and 1.93% of the population of the Czech Republic. 23 With 10 to 12 million Roma living in the European Union (EU) as of 2016, the Roma constitute one of the largest ethnic minorities in Europe. Despite this, natives have consistently viewed them as the “other” and have perpetuated the economically, politically, and socially disadvantaged situation of the Roma through means such as political policy (or lack thereof), cultural stigma, and labor market exclusions. 24

An important issue associated with the Roma is the educational exclusion children experience in schools, often receiving less education or a lower quality of education than their native European peers. Education is the foundation of political, economic, and social opportunity, often seen as a key to social inclusion for minority groups. 25 The Roma have traditionally been deprived of receiving even a primary education (both because of formal governmental repression and cultural prejudices), leading to significant lifelong and intergenerational ramifications for their communities. 26 Systematic repression from formal education between the Roma and native Europeans began over a century ago, and was perpetuated during the communist era in eastern Europe. 27 The lack of educational equality between Roma and native European populations was accentuated in the years following communism (after 1989) as eastern European societies were rebuilding and rebranding themselves as capitalist systems. 28 This is because, although communist-era policies allowed the Roma’s social standing to be more equal to that of the native population, post-communist policies caused an increase in Roma poverty since they could no longer rely on the state to provide adequate living conditions, compulsory primary education, and schoolbooks. 29

Roma educational inequality continues to be prevalent all throughout western and eastern Europe, but since there is a higher concentration of Roma people in the countries of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, this brief will focus primarily on populations in eastern Europe. 30 Roma educational disparities in eastern Europe become especially evident when comparing statistics with native European children. For example, according to 2011 census data in Bulgaria, 0.9% of native Bulgarians did not attend or complete primary school, whereas 21.8% of Roma children did not attend or complete primary school. 31 The data demonstrates a similar situation in Romania, where 1.5% of native Romanians did not graduate primary school but were literate, and 6.1% of Roma people did not graduate primary school but were literate. 32 In these countries, there is a real disparity in opportunity and achievement for the Roma minority as opposed to the native European children, and disparities are universal and unrestricted for each grade level and age group. 33

Roma girls also tend to face disproportionate educational disparity as compared to Roma boys. Roma boys spend an average of 6.71 years in education, while Roma girls spend around 5.66 years. This is notably different from non-Roma population averages: 10.95 years for boys and 10.7 for girls. 34 About 28% of Roma women (aged 16 to 64) have not received a formal education, compared to only 18% of Roma men and 2% of non-Roma women. 35 These statistics demonstrate that although most Roma children receive less education than non-Roma children, and girls in all demographics in eastern Europe tend to receive less education than boys, Roma girls are the most disadvantaged when it comes to educational attainment. 36

Because of the migratory tendencies of the Roma and the fact that many live in unregistered housing, census data on this population is sparse. This lack of information has major consequences in political policy, making it difficult to monitor changes in the Roma demographic. Inadequate data also perpetuates disparities in access to quality education because inaccurate enrollment and class size data can cause insufficient allocation of learning materials and teachers to areas of high Roma populations. 37 Because of this lack of quantitative data, much of the research in this brief comes from academic research, studies from governmental organizations such as the UN and the EU, and anecdotal evidence from the experiences of Roma individuals.

Contributing Factors

Racial Discrimination

One of the primary factors leading to diminished educational opportunity for the Roma people is political and economic racial inequities. In a 2019 Global Attitudes survey, results from 10 out of 16 countries in central and eastern Europe showed that 50% or more of their respective populations had unfavorable views of the Roma ethnicity. Slovakia was especially high, with 76% of people feeling unfavorably towards the Roma. 38 Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary followed closely behind at 68%, 66%, and 61%, respectively. 39

In a survey given to Roma people across eastern Europe, “ethnic or origin discrimination” was identified as the primary factor causing unfair treatment of Roma people. All were asked to rate discrimination based on multiple categories, including ethnicity or origin, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and religious belief. In all countries surveyed, ethnic and origin discrimination received the highest percentages of discrimination 40 (see following figure). Furthermore, in a group of eastern European states surveyed in 2009, half of Roma individuals stopped by the police in the 12 months prior to the study believed that they were stopped because of their ethnicity. 41 Racial discrimination creates tension with the native population, and because of natives’ stigmas against them, the Roma feel suppressed in exercising their human rights and their rights as EU citizens. 42

Governments have traditionally been slow to create action plans to assuage this stigma and discrimination and to help the Roma assimilate successfully. 43 The policies that governments do have in place to try and protect the Roma against racial discrimination are often not effectively implemented by local leaders, who can face popular pressure to maintain the status quo of school segregation. 44 For example, in connection with the initiative from 2005–2015, called “the Decade of Roma inclusion,” Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia all adopted the EU Racial Equality Directive into national law, which was intended to decrease the amount of discrimination against racial minorities throughout EU countries. 45 Despite these measures, a report on the impact of the EU Racial Equality Directive in 27 EU countries stated that neither employers nor trade unions showed a comprehensive understanding of racial discrimination in regards to the Roma people, and the Roma people were generally acknowledged as not coming under the protection of the directive. 46 These ingrained patterns of systematic segregation affect how national policy is integrated at the local level, especially in schools. 47

The Roma are not awarded the same kind of political autonomy or credibility due to their race, which makes them vulnerable to inequalities, especially in the education system. 48 An exception to this comes from Hungary, where the first National Gypsy Minority Self Government (NGMS-G) was created in 2000; this allowed Roma interests to be voiced in the local government and helped disadvantaged Roma children graduate from a vocational school. This type of representation matters in implementing educational reform and voicing Roma-specific needs, but because of continued racial discrimination and a lack of reform from national governments, these types of minority self-governments are rare and the Roma continue to receive inadequate representation throughout much of eastern Europe. 49 Other political parties have formed on behalf of the Roma to amplify their voices in national government, but they are largely underrepresented. For example, out of 314 members of the lower house of Romania’s National Parliament, only 1 member—0.3% of body membership—represents the Roma, 50 even though 8.32% of Romania’s population is Roma. 51

Although there are no studies proving that education disparities are linked directly to racial bias, racially discriminated groups all over the world are often put at a disadvantage educationally, demonstrating a likely correlation in the Roma population as well. 52 Segregation of Roma children in schooling highlights one way this racial discrimination may influence educational inequality. Roma children are often channeled into all-Roma segregated schools or placed into segregated “Roma only” classes in mainstream schools. 53 Between 33% to 58% of Roma children in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Greece have attended a class where all or many of their classmates were Roma. 54 The segregated, Roma-only schools offer an inferior education as there is a higher chance of teacher absenteeism as well as a lack of equipment, such as textbooks or science laboratories. 55 Lower quality of education, a lack of local investment, and subpar teaching all widen the gap of Roma segregation. 56

Placement in Special Education Schools

Many Roma youth are unjustly placed in special education schools because of perceived cognitive deficiencies or fewer opportunities for cognitive development at a young age. 57 Although this is closely tied to racial biases against the Roma population, this increased placement in special education schools greatly contributes to unequal education for Roma children in its own right. Although they have no apparent learning challenges or disabilities, Roma children make up the majority of children placed in special education programs. 58 In the Czech Republic, up to 70% of Roma children were placed in remedial or special schools with an inferior curriculum and exceedingly low educational outcomes. 59 In Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Serbia, this comes from a bias in entry-level testing. These countries rely on at least one of two tests—the Raven’s Progressive Matrices or the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children—to measure whether children are prepared to enter primary school. These tests focus on the amount of cultural experiences the child has been exposed to that would give him/her a certain skill set and vocabulary. Since many Roma children do not grow up in middle-class families, Roma children tend to score low on these tests, resulting in their placement in special education schools and remedial schools. 60

Roma families’ physical segregation from other communities in eastern Europe forces them to live in lower income neighborhoods, increasing the likelihood of children unjustly entering into special education programs. 61 Those in lower income families often have fewer opportunities for cognitive development before preschool, thus giving them less of a chance to pass the tests for entering kindergarten at a regular school. 62 This demonstrates how social status can determine how children are placed in school, even if they are not in need of special education. Lack of educational guidance from parents can also lead to children falling behind in school, which causes them to be placed in special education schools for remedial learning. 63 Additionally, because Roma families tend to migrate frequently, it can be difficult for children to maintain a steady education pattern. The inconsistency of their education can allow for them to fall behind and therefore become more of a target to be placed in special education programs. 64

Because of misdiagnoses, flawed tests, and disadvantaged social status, statistics for the percentage of Roma students segregated into special education schools in eastern Europe tends to be higher and more stable than in other European countries. For example, less than 0.1%, 1.3% and 1.1% of Roma children in Italy, Finland, and the United Kingdom, respectively, were placed in special education schools in 2008. In the same year, 3.6%, 3.5%, and 2.9% of Roma children in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, respectively, were placed in special education schools. 65 On average, roughly 1 in 10 Roma children in these countries have at some point attended a special education class or school that was designated specifically for Roma people. 66 Policy makers have historically failed to address this racially discriminating practice and have allowed it to continue by turning a blind eye to the situation. 67 As more Roma children are placed in special education schools and programs, their access to a higher quality of education decreases.

Lack of Institutional Accommodation

The social status quo in the Roma community has been one of intermittent migration and travelling for employment, which creates an institutional barrier between the native population and the Roma people. Their historical pattern of migration created a difficult environment for their children’s steady and formal education, 68 and modern migratory practices continue to bar children from assimilating into mainstream schools because they often do not remain in the area long enough to establish themselves. 69 Although accurate and reliable data on the frequency of Roma migration is largely unavailable, 70 it has been established that many Roma families migrate seasonally while others move less frequently. 71 The European school system is not set up to accommodate children who only stay for a few months or a year and then leave the school district again, and there are not sufficient educational policies at the national and local level to aid in including Roma migrant children at school. 72

It is particularly difficult for migratory children to succeed in Romanian schools, where the educators tend to be more rigid in regard to Roma students. 73 This is not due to the official standards of the Romanian education system, which is egalitarian and free for all students. 74 Rather, individual teachers uphold stereotypes at the classroom level, making it difficult for new Roma students to integrate into the school system. This institutional barrier is a major contributing factor to the lack of consistency and effectiveness in education for Roma children. A consistent primary education with teachers who know their students by name and who form positive relationships with them are major indicators for a student’s success. 75 Without this, students are much less likely to go on to complete high school or university. 76 One specific issue Roma children face in the education system is being forced to learn the national language, and sometimes being unable to communicate with their teacher in their native tongue, Roma people. It is an Indo-Aryan language, closely associated with other Indian languages, and has extensive borrowings from other European languages. It is mainly spoken rather than written. Romani is also the adjective used to describe the Roma culture.">Romani. 77 This language barrier does not easily foster understanding and learning between the teacher and student, contributing to educational disparities.

Despite a lack of concrete data on the effects migration has specifically on Roma children’s education, based on data in other cultures, it is clear that the steady migration of the Roma presents a unique challenge for eastern European educational institutions. A study conducted in the United States in 2010 on child mobility found that mobility has a negative impact on academic achievement, as seen in lower standardized test scores and higher dropout rates. 78 Another American study on family relocation reported that children who moved often (6 or more times before age 18), were between 50–100% more likely to report a developmental problem or a learning disorder, repeat a grade, or experience behavioral problems when compared to those children who never or infrequently moved. 79 Many school systems in eastern Europe lack the kind of educator and institutional accommodation that traveling Roma students need, contributing to and perpetuating educational disparity within the Roma community.

Cultural Traditions

Occupational Traditions

The Roma ethnic minority has a distinct culture that sets them apart from other ethnic minorities in the EU. Their cultural values do not always align with the goals of the modern labor market, creating a cycle of poverty and inequality. For example, a 2012 report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) shows that Roma students who were able to complete primary and high school had a higher tendency to go on to complete vocational training instead of university degrees. 80 This could be due to the traditional vocational jobs Roma people have, such as carpenters, musicians, or cobblers. 81 This firm grasp on their culture is not inherently negative and in fact leads to a beneficial preservation of many cultural practices that have been lost in other populations, but it does create problems for the children of Roma workers who are in need of primary and secondary education to succeed financially in the modern world. This is partially because these occupations often cause the family to be migratory to continue to find work, and partially because many Roma children are less motivated to succeed in school when they do not have any clear role models of educational and modern occupational success in the home. 82 Poverty is thus perpetuated not only by the outside influence of native Europeans, but also inadvertently from Roma people themselves in holding to their cultural values of vocational employment and travelling for work, instead of receiving university degrees. 83

Early Marriage

The traditional culture of marrying early inhibits young girls' access to education and contributes to their lack of further educational opportunity because of marital responsibilities in the home. This practice has affected school attendance for 6.6% of Roma youth in Romania, mostly girls. 84 A 2013 study done in Romania showed that 55% of Roma girls had their first pregnancy when they were still minors, compared to 14% of the comparative sample of non-Roma women. 85 When these girls are less able to attend and finish school, this affects their ability to go on to higher education, and limits their job options.

Due to unregistered marriages or countries not disaggregating child marriages based on ethnicity, there is a lack of statistical data on this subject, however, one report stated that in Romania, 53% of Roma women surveyed were married before the age of 18, as well as 43% of their daughters. Furthermore, 43% of those surveyed had a child before the age of 19, and the average age of childbirth among Roma women was five years below Romania’s national average age of 24. 86 In surveyed southeastern Europe countries, 31% of Roma men and 33% of Roma women preferred to have their daughter married before she completed basic education to ensure that she did not lose her virginity before marriage. 87 This fairly common occurrence of early marriage and early childbirth keeps young women in the home rather than allowing them to complete their education.

Rural and Neighborhood Segregation

The Roma ethnic minority is often physically segregated from European society in neighborhood ghettos, rural villages, or unofficial camps. Roma school children are often surrounded by schools that are known to be low-achieving and sparsely funded, 88 or are without access to transportation to school. 89 While this is not the sole reason for the Roma’s non-involvement, segregation into ghettos and Roma-only villages adds to the difficulties Roma communities face when integrating into the education system.

Many Roma children are limited academically because they are segregated into poorer communities near lower-achieving schools. A 2017 report showed that across a sample of European cities, 17.5% of cities had Roma people living predominantly in camps, caravans or mobile homes, while in 30.5% of cities, Roma lived predominately in public city housing. 90 Another survey reported that in Romania, 35% of Romanian participants thought that Roma people and native Romanians should not live in the same neighborhoods, but that Roma should live isolated from the rest of society. 91 This rural and neighborhood segregation creates barriers for Roma children to go to high-achieving schools, which are usually situated in wealthier neighborhoods. 92

Exclusively Roma enclaves exist in every major city or town in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, former Yugoslavia, and Slovakia. 93 In order to travel from these enclaves to school, public transportation—such as buses, metros, or trams—is necessary because in the countryside, Roma people often use horse-driven carts, and in the city they are less likely to own cars. A 2006 study in Bulgaria reported that 51% of ethnic Bulgarians owned a car, whereas only 19% of ethnically Roma people did. 94 However, Roma children have limited accessibility to public transportation. Many villages surrounding the Romanian city of Bra?ov, for example, sit at a distance of around 30 km (18 miles) from the city center. 95 By bus, this usually takes approximately one hour in travel time with an additional 15 to 30 minutes on a city bus once inside the city. Besides the significant amount of time it would take to travel to school using public transportation, it is also expensive to travel these distances, especially for the already economically-disadvantaged Roma population.

A lack of access to transportation has led to specific educational pitfalls for Roma families. In an interview with a local from Bra?ov, România, ethnic Roma primary school psychologist Dima Doru stated that there were insufficient schools in the countryside near Bra?ov, forcing Roma students to commute long distances to school everyday, often creating obstacles in attending regularly. 96 Additionally, without adequate transportation and long distances between home and school due to segregation, Roma parents do not get involved in school meetings, establish relationships with teachers, or socialize with other parents, which would help the students to have a more successful academic career. 97 Roma children are also limited in their participation in extracurricular activities such as sports, choirs, or clubs, which would further enrich their educational experience. 98

Consequences

Illiteracy

Illiteracy is a direct consequence of educational disparity because as Roma children receive a lower quality of education and experience more difficulties succeeding in school, they are less likely to develop the same literacy skills as their non-Roma peers. In a study of the Roma population across 11 EU member states, 20% of respondents aged 16 and up said that they could neither read nor write, as compared to 1% of non-Roma living close by. 99 Another study across western and eastern Europe found that 10% of Roma people are completely illiterate. 100 This statistic includes adults as well as children, demonstrating that illiteracy in the national language affects all age groups within the Roma population and is not a recent phenomenon. Roma girls also tend to be less literate than Roma boys; in one study, 20% of Roma boys were reported to be illiterate, compared to about 25% of girls. 101

Additionally, preschool enrollment rates for Roma children are much lower than the national average, despite slow improvements. 102 Preschool attendance is crucial in establishing a positive path in early child development and has been shown to improve literacy in children, 103 especially for those from impoverished backgrounds who have fewer opportunities for development outside of preschool. 104 Roma children are put at a disadvantage for becoming fully literate starting at a very young age both due to their lower socioeconomic status and their lower preschool attendance.

Not only do children who experience educational disparities struggle to become fully literate in the national language of the countries they live in, but Roma parents are often ill-equipped to effectively teach their children Roma culture.">Romani, their native tongue; this perpetuates the cycle of illiteracy to the next generation. Roma children often grow up in households with illiterate parents, creating a difficult learning environment for children because their parents are less able to support them in their learning. Romani, the language of the Roma, is primarily a spoken language 105 and does not have its own alphabet, instead using the alphabet of the language spoken by the native population. 106 Without Romani being taught in primary school, Roma children remain without a formal education about their native tongue. Illiteracy in both the language spoken by the majority population and in Romani is a direct consequence of educational disparities in Roma society and is perpetuated intergenerationally from illiterate parents to their children.

Low Employability

A major consequence stemming from educational disparities is labor market disadvantage. There are fewer employment opportunities for Roma people due to low educational attainment. Some Roma may want to carry on their traditional vocations—such as carpentry, shoemaking, and singing, 107 or are enlisted in menial public works jobs 108 —while others may desire to enter into more modern jobs. Those desiring the latter often do not have the skillset to do so, while those choosing the former are often further alienated from the rest of society and do not contribute to economic growth. 109 Because fewer Roma people graduate from high school, the Roma entering the workforce are underrepresented. 110 Low academic achievement for Roma people leads to fewer marketable skills and being less able to contribute to the modern workforce in positions involving technology, medicine, and business. 111 To find employment in eastern Europe’s recently emergent capitalist culture, one needs educational and professional qualifications, disadvantaging Roma groups who have not received an adequate education. 112

Low employability and lack of integration into the labor market has sustained the cycle of social discrimination and disintegration in public schools. 113 Those Roma who do not finish primary or high school also suffer from a lack of social skills, which are very integral for attaining and maintaining a steady job. 114 The development of soft skills, such as conscientiousness, problem-solving, amiability, and openness to experience are correlated with success in education and employment. 115 Research has shown that workers who are both socially and technically affluent are best equipped to navigate the modern economy. This is seen by an increase of 7.2% in available jobs for people with both social and technical skills, and a 26% wage increase for those people between 1980 and 2012. 116 This shows that having both social as well as technical skills places a worker in a position to earn higher wages and to be highly valued in their company. However, the Roma are generally lacking in both social and technical skills due to diminished educational opportunity. When Roma children are unable to attend school regularly, they are not learning social cues and norms in school environments amongst peers and classmates, worsening their chances of success in the labor market. 117

European Roma adults ages 16–24 face an unemployment rate of 58%, compared to 19% of non-Roma of the same age group. These statistics account for not only non-employed adults, but also for those who are not in education or training. 118 Not only is it hard to get a well-paying job, Roma workers are also often among the first to be laid off. 119 This is in part due to workplace social discrimination, where Roma employees also often find it harder to receive assignments and promotions. 120 Their lower social position and lack of educational achievement perpetuates mass structural unemployment and lower chances of employability.

Perpetuated Poverty

Another consequence of educational disparity is perpetuated poverty. As previously discussed, poverty can also be a contributing factor to decreased educational opportunities, given that a decreased standard of living amongst Roma groups coincides with Roma parents being unable to send their children to preschool or introduce them to writing materials from a young age. 121 Without these basic resources, Roma children’s educational opportunities are compromised starting at a young age. This continues the cycle of poverty and low educational achievement to the next generation of Roma children as they are impacted by their parents’ social and economic disadvantages. Without a good education, they are not able to lift themselves out of their impoverished state and often continue to live in impoverished areas, further perpetuating the issue. 122 The neighborhood Ferentari in Bucharest, Romania is a prime example of these impoverished ghettos that the Roma often live in generation after generation. 123 It was abandoned by some soldiers and workers from a nearby company that dissolved years ago. The apartment blocks and flats are in ruin and the government has stopped providing sewage systems to the neighborhood, creating a dirty living environment with flooded basements full of sewage water from burst pipes. Yet, the undersized apartments are occupied by Roma families who have taken refuge there, not having the money to move somewhere else, despite being employed. 124 This impoverished state is in part a result of a lack of opportunity for advancement through education.

Educational segregation is correlated with perpetuated poverty, with those attending segregated schools also tending to be from more impoverished households. Roma with an equivalised income below 60% of the national median equivalised disposable income are more likely to study at segregated schools in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Greece than non-Roma children from impoverished households. 125 Students at low-achieving schools are at risk of having lower growth than students at more affluent schools. If students are both low-achieving and low-growing, it is likely they are not being served well. 126 Oftentimes in these circumstances, Roma children do not finish primary and high school, leaving before they gain the skills needed to succeed in society and get out of poverty.

A 2014 study of eastern European countries showed that 14% of Roma children were not attending compulsory education, in contrast to around 3% of non-Roma children. 127 Since many Roma adults do not enter society with marketable skills from receiving an education, poverty is perpetuated rather than reduced. Perpetuated poverty is a direct consequence of educational disparities as it sustains the status quo of the economically and socially excluded Roma child in the education system.

Practices

Employ Recent University Graduates with Diversity Awareness Training as Teachers

One of the ways in which the disparities between educational attainment of Roma and non-Roma individuals can be decreased is by ensuring the fair treatment of minority groups in schools. 128 Research shows that there is institutional social discrimination and stereotyping in teachers’ practices toward Roma students, leading to disadvantages when compared to majority groups. 129 Employing university graduates who have undergone bias training to work as Roma school teachers can help create more equal practices in classrooms by bringing in a fresh, new perspective to primary education from a person who recently completed their own education, and who is committed to aid in raising up the next generation of leaders by implementing culturally sensitive classroom techniques.

Teach For All is a non-profit organization striving to help those who lack educational opportunity to have a better experience in the classroom and become leaders. They have sub-organizations in all of the countries they operate in, with Teach For Romania being a major influence in eastern Europe. Their main goals group families and educators together in hopes of providing a solid foundation for children’s academic success. They “envision a world where educators, policymakers, parents, and students are working together to ensure that their communities’ children have the foundation they need to shape a better future for themselves and all of us.” 130 Teach For All seeks to recruit recently-graduated young adults to work in classrooms in low-income areas, and acts as a middleman in helping them be hired in local school systems that are experiencing a shortage of teachers. Teach For All provides training for these graduates on how to manage cultural and socioeconomic diversity and foster leadership amongst students, which makes these teachers better equipped to help Roma children succeed than other teachers. These men and women who dedicate their efforts in assisting underprivileged youth help increase students’ educational potential. Students' mindsets are changed to focus on what they could become and how to take advantage of the opportunities given to them. Together, Teach For All teachers and their students commit to aid in a “system-wide change” in the education system. 131

In Romania and many places in eastern Europe, Teach For All specifically focuses on the Roma community due to their socioeconomic circumstances. Teach For Romania emphasizes developing leadership in the classroom and the community in order to expand disadvantaged childrens’ opportunity to fulfill their potential. They call on local graduates in diverse fields to inspire the new generation of Roma children by working with them in the classroom for two years, prioritizing the areas with the most need. According to the 2019 annual report for Teach For Romania, all team members were Romanian, not American or eastern European. 132 This is very important in demonstrating the value of this organization because native Romanian university graduates provide a crucial perspective on how to effectively interact with the Roma populations that live amongst them, as opposed to the outside and possibly ethnocentric perspectives of Americans or western Europeans. 133

Impact

Teach For All is deploying over 14,000 teachers who have committed two years of their lives to help minority students receive an equal level of education as majority students. Teach For All teachers have taught over 1 million students around the world, and 70% of alumni teachers continue to impact these disadvantaged students today by becoming full-time teachers, social entrepreneurs, and government officials who seek to create greater educational equality for minority populations. 134 Teach For Romania was opened in 2014, and has been able to increase the number of schools with Teach For Romania recruits from 15 in 2014 to 108 in 2019. They also began with 2,500 children involved, and reached 10,000 children in 2019. 135 These outputs show the recent effort in Romania to create a learning environment where students from all socioeconomic backgrounds can participate and contribute in the classroom.

One way that Teach For Romania has seen impact is in the connections students keep with their teachers through Facebook groups. Each year since Teach For Romania was launched in 2014, a Facebook page has been created for the children to keep in contact with their teachers. These teachers are true mentors for the children inside and outside of the classroom, which is something distinct and positive when compared to other public school teachers. Teach For Romania impacts their students by changing their attitudes toward education and motivating them to achieve more, which is easy to see in the videos and updates posted from students. Although there is no official data on impact evaluation, Teach For Romania is a professional organization that publicly tracks its progress in outputs from annual reports. 136

Gaps

Although Teach For All has teachers all over the world, many are concentrated in a single city (usually the capital) in their native country. Teach For All has great depth but limited breadth, meaning that they serve isolated communities where teachers are available, but their programs are not widespread. This limits their capacity to reach diverse communities in regions outside of large cities. In order to improve their services, Teach For All could expand their recruiting efforts to eliminate this gap of unequal distribution of teachers.

Finally, Teach For All seems to focus the information on their website on outcomes and impacts for teachers involved but is lacking information on outcomes and impacts for students. They appear to be more geared toward faculty recruitment than they are to recording change over time in students’ lives due to their intervention. Furthermore, all of the statistics reported are output data rather than outcomes or impact, and none of the data is specific to the Roma population, meaning there is no way of knowing exactly how impactful Teach For All’s interventions have been on helping Roma children.

Employing Roma Teachers and Mentors

Another practice that can be implemented in order to aid Roma students in their educational integration is finding teachers, mentors, and tutors that can truly connect with and understand their students from these minority backgrounds. 137 Training Roma adults to be teachers helps solve this social problem because of the cultural connection between the teacher and the students, thereby decreasing the prevalence of racial and cultural bias. Without a language barrier, Roma teachers and students can communicate freely in their native language, Romani, aiding in the learning process. This allows more employment opportunities for Roma adults, therefore decreasing the amount of Roma adults in poverty and mitigating one of the consequences of educational disparities for the Roma people.

The Roma Education Fund (REF) is a non-profit organization that creates initiatives for the inclusion of Roma citizens as teachers to reduce the educational achievement gap between Roma and non-Roma people in Europe. 138 This is accomplished by developing programs to promote quality education for Roma students by recruiting native speakers of Romani to become elementary school teachers as well as mentors and tutors for the students. Giving students the legal right and option to learn Romani in the classroom does not replace learning national languages, rather it is included in school curriculums. These teachers have an advantage in a classroom of Roma children because they are able to communicate in Romani, and they share similar cultural traditions. REF facilitates training programs for future teachers of the Romani language to help reduce illiteracy amongst Roma school children. REF officers perform regular monitoring visits to each location where projects are being held in order to understand whether the established objectives are on track to being accomplished and whether there are any challenges in their implementation.

These Roma teachers and mentors constantly work for further integration with mainstream or standardized schools, and they believe in the equal opportunity for their students of all races. The goal of school desegregation will provide more resources to Roma students (such as other students and teachers, textbooks, and science labs), all of which contribute to a better education. 139 Roma teachers are an important example for Roma children in seeing their potential and being able to advance in school in their native tongue. This increases literacy and cultural understanding between the teacher and the student, thus helping to close the educational gap between Roma and non-Roma children. 140

Impact

The REF measures outcomes through statistical monitoring and evaluation in the Roma communities in which they are involved. At the end of a project’s duration, parents and students are divided into focus groups to assess the outcomes of the program and provide feedback as to the impact of the initiative on the community, families, and school system. In one particular project on the influence of Roma educational mediators/tutors, they found that REF educational mediators “help the inclusion of Roma children in primary education, to assist towards the continuity and retention of Roma pupils in the educational process, and to facilitate the communication between the school, the parents, the community, the local government and the civil sector.” Educational mediators helped increase language and mathematics knowledge for 1,600 Roma students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade in the 2017–18 school year, reaching 100% of the target group. Many tutors were Roma graduates, which proved to be a major motivator for Roma students. 141

Another project REF took on in the 2018–19 school year involved preventing primary school dropouts by providing Roma students with after-school tutoring and mentoring programs and remedial classes, often by recent Roma graduates. Through these programs, a 91% attendance rate and a 100% graduation rate were attained, demonstrating the importance of the practice of employing Roma teachers and mentors in measuring the success of young Roma students. 142

Gaps

While these are good output measurements, REF’s website is lacking in concrete impact information, likely because it is focused in multiple locations and doesn’t have the resources to find a comprehensive way of measuring impact over time. One foreseeable gap in the REF’s model is precision in following up with the various programs they have implemented over longer periods of time. REF is very action-focused and successful during the time they are working with various other associations on a common program, but it is questionable as to if the programs and initiatives they have implemented are sustainable after they leave.

Another gap in the REF is a lack of focus on changing the attitudes of the native population to bring an end to segregation against Roma people in the education system. REF seems to be successful at solving negative consequences of the problem at hand but have not found a way to create long-term change. This may be due to a lack of concrete impact measurements and succinct information.

Early Childhood Education Programs

Childcare and development programs for Roma infants and young children is another area of concern in the process of establishing educational equality for the Roma people in eastern Europe. Often, Roma children grow up in impoverished circumstances, preventing them from entering preschool and thus setting a negative trajectory for their educational achievement from this young age. 143

Romani Early Years Network (REYN) is an organization focusing on the establishment of more early childhood development institutions or clinics in areas with high densities of Roma people. Their main goal is to provide equal opportunities for Romani children through successful implementation of early childhood education and care programs for Roma populations across the EU, knowing that the first three years of a child’s life are the most critical in the child’s development and for future success in school. 144 REYN identifies the most vulnerable Roma populations and sends in early childhood development (ECD) professionals to work with Roma families by providing inter-cultural early childhood development provisions and services in preschools, nurseries, and social and child protection services. They also provide opportunities for infants and toddlers to learn basic skills, with an emphasis on literacy.

Furthermore, REYN strives to ensure that policymakers are providing adequate resources to preschool education in the area. REYN has created an advocacy team focused on lobbying EU leaders to develop National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS), with early childhood education being their primary concern. They call on national governments to prioritize early education in their integration strategies. Additionally, REYN creates pathways for Roma adults to become certified ECD professionals and work with children in problem areas. This holistic approach provides resources for young Roma children to begin their education early and alongside the rest of the population, while also helping Roma adults find a meaningful job working as ECD professionals.

Impact

REYN and its partner, Together Old and Young, created a project titled Toy For Inclusion, which involves Roma and non-Roma families engaging in intergenerational activities taking place in “play hubs,” or safe spaces to recreate interculturally and to forge friendship and trust. This project benefits Roma children by providing a place for them to build social skills, borrow high-quality learning materials, and learn how to interact with other young children who are different than they are, simultaneously preparing them to start their formal education in preschool or kindergarten. 145 Over 6,400 children are involved in the integration effort, and 14 play hubs have been built since 2018. Over 30% of the children REYN reached came from vulnerable groups, many of whom were Roma. 146 Toy For Inclusion has a presence in 8 countries all over Europe, with a majority in eastern and southern Europe. According to REYN, Roma families have reported increased trust in their local services and community leaders. 147 The success of this program has attracted the attention of the European Parliament, which has led to REYN leaders being able to give presentations on Toy For Inclusion at conferences and major events. Although this is not necessarily an impact factor, REYN seems to be gaining traction in the EU community. They would benefit from establishing clear impact measurements within their partnerships to add credibility to their programs.

Gaps

Although REYN has a lot of good information listed on their website about their goals, there is a lack of concrete data analysis. It is difficult to find statistics or reports on projects because of a lack of data. REYN claims to be focused on education, but the organization seems to actually be targeting family and social integration rather than early childhood development curriculums. Due to the website’s vague descriptions, there are unclear impacts for the children the ECD professionals work with. Even though REYN does not offer clear impact analysis, implementing programs for early childhood development is still important, especially in combating illiteracy, segregation, and perpetuated poverty, making this practice important to the educational success of Roma children.

Key Takeaways

  • There are many Roma children that are misplaced into special education schools or misdiagnosed with mental disabilities due to racial discrimination.
  • White Europeans often do not understand or refuse to accommodate the migratory culture of the Roma, contributing to their social discrimination.
  • The educational system in eastern European countries is continuously impacted by the lack of a firm legal structure that protects Roma people against injustice.
  • Exclusively Roma enclaves exist in nearly every major city or town in eastern Europe, contributing to neighborhood segregation.
  • The Roma culture traditionally encourages men to take vocational jobs rather than integrate into the mainstream labor force.
  • Presently, 10% of Roma people are completely illiterate. There are differing literacy rates between boys and girls—20% of Roma boys are reported to be illiterate, compared to about 25% of girls.

1 “Institutional Barriers & Their Effects: How Can I Talk to Colleagues about These Issues?” National Center for Women & Information Technology, May 6, 2009, https://www.ncwit.org/resources/institutional-barriers-their-effects-how-can-i-talk-colleagues-about-these-issues.

2 Dinesh Bhugra, “Social Discrimination and Social Justice,” International Review of Psychiatry 28, no. 4, July 29, 2016, https://doi.org/10.1080/09540261.2016.1210359.

3 “Early Child Development,” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, March 6, 2020, https://www.who.int/topics/early-child-development/en/.

4 “History of the Romani Language,” The University of Manchester, accessed 27 July, 2020, https://romani.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/whatis/language/origins.shtml.

5 Donald Kenrick, “Historical Dictionary of the Gypsies,” Historical Dictionaries of Peoples and Cultures, No. 7. The Scarecrow Press Inc, 2007, https://www.gitanos.org/documentos/1.1-KEN-his_HistoricalDictionaryoftheGypsies.pdf.

6 Andy Hegedus, “Evaluating the Relationships Between Poverty and School Performance,” NWEA Research, October 2018, https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED593828.

7 Ibid.

8 “Compulsory Education in Europe 2018/19,” EACEA, September 2018, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/sites/eurydice/files/compulsory_education_2018_19.pdf.

9 Jack Greenberg, “Report on Roma Education Today: From Slavery to Segregation and Beyond,” Columbia Law Review 110, no. 4 (May 2010): 919–1001, https://www.jstor.org/stable/27806640.

10 Carol Silverman, “PERSECUTION AND POLITICIZATION: ROMA (GYPSIES) OF EASTERN EUROPE,” Cultural Survival, vol 19, 1995, https://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/persecution-and-politicization-roma-gypsies-eastern-europe.

11 Derek Scalley, “Discrimination against Roma traced back to Middle Ages,” The Irish Times, October 27, 2013, https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/discrimination-against-roma-traced-back-to-middle-ages-1.1575257.

12 Špela Humljan Urh, “Roma People: Discrimination and Social Work Practice,” International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2015, pp. 754–760, https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-08-097086-8.28080-x.

13 Ibid.

14 Kay Randall, “What's in a Name? Professor takes on roles of Romani activist and spokesperson to improve plight of their ethnic group," University of Texas at Austin, May 2, 2016, https://web.archive.org/web/20160502215055/http://www.utexas.edu/features/archive/2003/romani.html.

15 Kenrick, “Historical Dictionary of the Gypsies.”

16 R.W-M., “Ire of the ?igan,” The Economist, December 8, 2010, https://www.economist.com/eastern-approaches/2010/12/08/ire-of-the-tigan.

17 Michael Teichmann, "Professions,” Rombase, November 2002, http://rombase.uni-graz.at/cgi-bin/art.cgi?src=data/ethn/work/prof.en.xml.

18 “Roma Integration in Bulgaria,” European Commission, accessed February 27, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-bulgaria_en#:~:text=The%20Council%20of%20Europe%20estimates,10.33%25%20of%20the%20population).

19 “Roma Integration in Romania,” European Commission, accessed February 27, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-romania_en#:~:text=Facts%20and%20figures,8.32%25%20of%20the%20population.

20 “Roma integration in Hungary,” European Commission, accessed February 27, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-hungary_en.

21 “Roma integration in Slovakia,” European Commission, accessed February 27, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-slovakia_en.

22 “Roma Integration in the Czech Republic,” European Commission, accessed February 27, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-czech-republic_en#:~:text=The%20Council%20of%20Europe%20estimates,1.93%25%20of%20the%20population).

23 Christine O'Hanlon, “The European Struggle to Educate and Include Roma People: A Critique of Differences in Policy and Practice in Western and Eastern EU Countries,” Social Inclusion 4, no. 1 (2016): 1, http://doi.org/10.17645/si.v4i1.363.

24 Yaron Matras, I Met Lucky People: The Story of the Romani Gypsies, (London, Penguin, 2014), p. 173.

25 “Strategy of the Government of Romania for the Inclusion of the Romanian Citizens Belonging to Roma Minority For the Period 2012–2020,” European Commission, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/roma_romania_strategy_en.pdf.

26 Matras, I Met Lucky People.

27 O'Hanlon, “The European Struggle to Educate and Include Roma People.”

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid.

30 “National Integration Strategy of the Republic of Bulgaria (2012-2020),” European Commission, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/roma_bulgaria_strategy_en.pdf.

31 “Strategy of the Government of Romania,” European Commission.

32 “The Right of Roma Children to Education: Position Paper,” UNICEF, 2011, https://www.unicef.org/eca/sites/unicef.org.eca/files/2017-11/Roma_Position_Paper_-_June12.pdf.

33 Roxana Andrei, George Martinidis, and Tana Tkadlecova, “Challenges Faced by Roma Women in Europe on Education, Employment, Health and Housing - Focus on Czech Republic, Romania and Greece,” Balkan Social Science Review, Vol. 4, 323–351, 2014, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ffa8/cb1cbc2c627d9f2ea42370ed24ff67b25c7a.pdf.

34 Ibid.

35 Ibid.

36 O'Hanlon, “The European Struggle to Educate and Include Roma People.”

37 Richard Wike, et al., “Views on Minority Groups across Europe,” Pew Research Center, December 30, 2019, www.pewresearch.org/global/2019/10/14/minority-groups/.

38 Ibid.

39 “European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey - Main Results Report,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, December 9, 2009, https://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2012/european-union-minorities-and-discrimination-survey-main-results-report.

40 “Data in Focus Report | The Roma,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2009, http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/413-EU-MIDIS_ROMA_EN.pdf.

41 Lilla Farkas, “Report on Discrimination of Roma Children in Education,” European Network of Legal Experts in the Non-Discrimination Field, October 2014, https://tandis.odihr.pl/bitstream/20.500.12389/21933/1/08101.pdf.

42 Ibid.

43 “The Impact of Legislation and Policies on School Segregation of Romani Children,” European Roma Rights Centre, February 16, 2007, http://www.errc.org/reports-and-submissions/the-impact-of-legislation-and-policies-on-school-segregation-of-romani-children.

44 Iskra Kirova, “The Decade of Roma Inclusion: Addressing Racial Discrimination Through Development,” United Nations, accessed February 27, 2020, https://www.un.org/en/chronicle/article/decade-roma-inclusion-addressing-racial-discrimination-through-development.

45 “The Impact of the Racial Equality Directive,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, June 21, 2011, https://doi.org/10.2811/29280.

46 “The Impact of Legislation and Policies,” European Roma Rights Centre.

47 Helen O'Nions, "Warehouses and Window-Dressing. A Legal Perspective on Educational Segregation in Europe," ZEP: Zeitschrift für internationale Bildungsforschung und Entwicklungspädagogik 38, no. 1 (2015): 4–10, https://www.pedocs.de/volltexte/2017/14009/pdf/ZEP_1_2015_ONions_Warehouses_and_Window_Dressing.pdf.

48 Martin Kovats, “The Political Significance of the First National Gypsy Minority Self-Government in Hungary,” Contemporary Politics, 6, no. 3 (2000): 247–262, https://doi.org/10.1080/713658366.

49 Chuck Sudetic, “Roma in Political Life: Romania—’Household Roma,’ Mayors, and .3 Percent,” Open Society Foundations, September 10, 2013, https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/roma-political-life-romania-household-roma-mayors-and-3-percent.

50 “Roma Integration in Romania: Funding, strategy, facts and figures and contact details for national Roma contact points in Romania,” European Commission, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-and-eu/roma-integration-eu-country/roma-integration-romania_en#:~:text=Facts%20and%20figures,8.32%25%20of%20the%20population.

51 Robin Nicole Johnson-Ahorlu, “The Academic Opportunity Gap: How Racism and Stereotypes Disrupt the Education of African American Undergraduates,” Race Ethnicity and Education, 15 no. 5, (2010): 633–652, https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2011.645566.

52 “Equal Access To Quality Education For Roma,” Open Society Institute, 2007, https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/uploads/eb0499be-cdc3-4fc2-a327-deaf040c256b/2roma_20070329_0.pdf.

53 “Education: The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, October 30, 2014, https://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2014/education-situation-roma-11-eu-member-states.

54 Jacqueline Bhabha, Human Rights and Adolescence, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.

55 Ibid.

56 “Education: The Situation of Roma,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

57 Gabriela Walker, “Overrepresented Minorities in Special Education in the United States and Romania: Comparison between African-American and Roma Populations in Disability Studies,” Research in Comparative and International Education 3, no. 4 (December 2008): 394–403, https://doi.org/10.2304/rcie.2008.3.4.394.

58 “Case DH vs Czech Republic,” European Court of Human Rights, November 13, 2007, https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/fre#{"itemid":["001-83256"]}.

59 Julia M. White, “Pitfalls and Bias: Entry Testing and the Overrepresentation of Romani Children in Special Education,” Roma Education Fund, April 2012, https://www.romaeducationfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/pitfalls-and-bias-screen_singlepages.pdf

60 “Education: The Situation of Roma,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

61 White, “Pitfalls and Bias.”

62 Walker, “Overrepresented Minorities in Special Education.”

63 White, “Pitfalls and Bias.”

64 Ibid.

65 “Education: The Situation of Roma,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

66 Farkas, “Report on Discrimination of Roma Children in Education.”

67 Urh, “Roma People: Discrimination and Social Work Practice.”

68 Bhabha, Human Rights and Adolescence.

69 Cahn and Guild, “Recent Migration of Roma in Europe,” Commissioner for Human Rights, December 10, 2008, https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/4/d/78034.pdf.

70 Bhabha, Human Rights and Adolescence.

71 Nafsika Alexiadou, “Framing Education Policies and Transitions of Roma Students in Europe,” Comparative Education, 55, no. 3, (2019): 422–442, https://doi.org/10.1080/03050068.2019.1619334.

72 Bhabha, Human Rights and Adolescence.

73 “Regulamentul de Organizare ?i Func?ionare a Ministerului Educa?iei Na?ionale,” Ministerul Educa?iei Na?ionale, 2017, https://www.edu.ro/sites/default/files/OMEN%204982_2017.pdf

74 Sara Rimm-Kaufman and Lia Sandilos, “Improving Students' Relationships with Teachers to Provide Essential Supports for Learning,” American Psychological Association, 2010, https://www.apa.org/education/k12/relationships.

75 “Strategy of the Government of Romania,” European Commission.

76 “Evolutia Educa?iei Romilor în România,” Roma Education Fund, 2007, https://www.romaeducationfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/web_romania_report_romanian.pdf

77 “K-12 Education: Many Challenges Arise in Educating Students Who Change Schools Frequently,” United States Government Accountability Office, December 20, 2010, https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-40.

78 David Wood et al., "Impact of Family Relocation on Children's Growth, Development, School Function, and Behavior," JAMA 270, no. 11 (1993): 1334–1338, https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.1993.03510110074035.

79 “FRANET National Focal Point | Social Thematic Study | The Situation of Roma,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2012, https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/situation-of-roma-2012-nl-v1-1.pdf.

80 Teichmann, "Professions.”

81 Interview with Dima Doru, an ethnic Roma school psychologist in Bra?ov, România, 7 May, 2020.

82 “FRANET National Focal Point,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

83 Eugen Crai, “Early and Forced Marriages in Roma Communities,” Council of Europe CAHROM, 2015, https://cs.coe.int/team20/cahrom/_layouts/15/WopiFrame.aspx?sourcedoc=/team20/cahrom/9th%20CAHROM%20Plenary%20meeting/Item%2009%20-%20Early%20and%20Forced%20Marriages%20in%20Roma%20communities%20in%20Romania.docx&action=default.

84 Branislava Bošnjak and Thomas Acton, “Virginity and Early Marriage Customs in Relation to Children's Rights among Chergashe Roma from Serbia and Bosnia,” The International Journal of Human Rights, 17, no 5–6, (2013): 646–667, https://doi.org/10.1080/13642987.2013.831697.

85 Mihai Surdu, “Broadening the Agenda: The Status of Romani Women in Romania,” Open Society Foundations, March 2006, https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/publications/broadening-agenda-status-romani-women-romania.

86 Monica Robayo et al., “Closing the Gender Gaps among Marginalized Roma in the Western Balkans (English),” The World Bank, June 17, 2019, http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/994401560763568796/Closing-the-Gender-Gaps-among-Marginalized-Roma-in-the-Western-Balkans.

87 Hegedus, “Evaluating the Relationships between Poverty and School Performance.”

88 “FRANET National Focal Point,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

89 “Mapping of the Situation of Roma in Cities in Europe,” Euro Cities, August 2017, http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/Mapping_of_the_situation_of_Roma_in_cities_FINAL_REPORT.pdf.

90 Gabriel Andreescu, Schimb?ri în harta etnic? a României, Centrul de Resurse pentru Diversitate Etnocultural?, 2005.

91 Hegedus, “Evaluating the Relationships between Poverty and School Performance.”

92 Jack Greenberg, “Report on Roma Education Today: From Slavery to Segregation and Beyond,” Columbia Law Review 110, no. 4 (May 2010): 919–1001, https://www.jstor.org/stable/27806640.

93 Philip Gounev, "Police Stops and Ethnic Profiling in Bulgaria," CSD, 2006.

94 “Directions for driving from Bra?ov to Rotbav,” Google Maps, accessed 8 July, 2020, https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Bra%C8%99ov,+Romania/rotbav/@45.7486426,25.4436799,11z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x40b35b862aa214f1:0x6cf5f2ef54391e0f!2m2!1d25.6011977!2d45.6579755!1m5!1m1!1s0x40b4a9429c204edf:0xe3c6fd3131b82b8e!2m2!1d25.5540107!2d45.8399536!3e3.

95 Interview with Dima Doru, an ethnic Roma school psychologist in Bra?ov, România, May 7, 2020.

96 Jacqueline Bhabha, Andrzej Mirga, and Margareta Matache, “Realizing Roma Rights,” University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017, https://cdn2.sph.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/114/2017/12/RealizRomaRightsTOCExSum.pdf.

97 Ibid.

98 “Education: The Situation of Roma,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

99 O'Hanlon, “The European Struggle to Educate and Include Roma People.”

100 “Roma Children,” UNICEF Europe and Central Asia, accessed February 28, 2020, https://www.unicef.org/eca/what-we-do/ending-child-poverty/roma-children.

101 “Toward an Equal Start: Closing the Early Learning Gap for Roma Children in Eastern Europe,” The World Bank, June 4, 2012, http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/843991468251107542/pdf/697290WP00PUBL00RomaECD0FinalReport.pdf.

102 Lori E. Skibbe et al. “Schooling Effects on Preschoolers' Self-Regulation, Early Literacy, and Language Growth,” Early Childhood Research Quarterly vol. 26,1 (2011): 42–49, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2010.05.001.

103 “Romani Children,” Romani Early Years Network, accessed February 28, 2020, https://www.reyn.eu/romani-children/.

104 Roxy Freeman, “Roma Culture beyond the Stereotypes,” The Guardian, April 22, 2010, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/apr/22/roma-culture-influence-mainstream.

105 Ronald Lee, “The Romani Language,” Kopachi, accessed February 28, 2020, https://kopachi.com/articles/the-romani-language-ronald-lee/.

106 Teichmann, "Professions.”

107 “Empowerment through Employment: Capitalizing on the Economic Opportunities of Roma Inclusion,” Open Society Foundations, September 18, 2012, https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/publications/empowerment-through-employment-capitalizing-economic-opportunities-roma-inclusion.

108 Ibid.

109 “Strategy of the Government of Romania,” European Commission.

110 Ibid.

111 O'Hanlon, “The European Struggle to Educate and Include Roma People.”

112 Niall O'Higgins, “‘It's Not That I'm a Racist, It's That They Are Roma’: Roma Discrimination and Returns to Education in South Eastern Europe,” International Journal of Manpower, vol. 31, no. 2, (2010): 163–187, https://doi.org/10.1108/01437721011042250.

113 M.P. Levinson, “Integration of Gypsy Roma Children in Schools: Trojan or Pantomime Horse?” in Roma Education in Europe, Maja Miskovic, (London: Routledge, 2013), pp. 100–110, https://www.routledge.com/Roma-Education-in-Europe-Practices-policies-and-politics/Miskovic/p/book/9780415535984.

114 “Why Education Matters to Health: Exploring the Causes,” Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health, February 13, 2015, https://societyhealth.vcu.edu/work/the-projects/why-education-matters-to-health-exploring-the-causes.html.

115 Alvin Powell, “Golden Age for Team Players,” The Harvard Gazette, October 23, 2017, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/10/social-skills-increasingly-valuable-to-employers-harvard-economist-finds/.

116 Levinson, “Integration of Gypsy Roma Children.”

117 “Poverty and Employment: The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2014, https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra-2014-roma-survey-employment_en.pdf.

118 Silverman, “PERSECUTION AND POLITICIZATION: ROMA (GYPSIES) OF EASTERN EUROPE.”

119 Ibid.

120 Helen O’Nions, “Divide and Teach: Educational Inequality and the Roma,” The International Journal of Human Rights, 14 no. 3, (2010): 464–489, https://doi.org/10.1080/13642980802704304.

121 “Education: The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

122 Jack Greenberg, “Report on Roma Education Today: From Slavery to Segregation and Beyond,” Columbia Law Review 110, no. 4, (May 2010): 919–1001, https://www.jstor.org/stable/27806640.

123 Ibid.

124 “Education: The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

125 Hegedus, “Evaluating the Relationships between Poverty and School Performance.”

126 “Education: The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

127 Walker, “Overrepresented Minorities in Special Education.”

128 “Education: The Situation of Roma in 11 EU Member States,” European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

129 “Our Purpose,” Teach For All, accessed February 27, 2020, https://teachforall.org/.

130 “Teach for All,” Skoll, accessed February 27, 2020, https://skoll.org/organization/teach-for-all/.

131 “Raport de Activitate Teach For Romania 2019,” Teach For Romania, 2019, https://teachforromania.org/wp-content/uploads/2019-raport-teach-for-romania.pdf.

132 “Teach for All,” Skoll.

133 Ibid.

134 “Raport de Activitate Teach For Romania 2019,” Teach For Romania.

135 Ibid.

136 “Evolutia Educa?iei Romilor în România,” Roma Education Fund, 2007, https://www.romaeducationfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/web_romania_report_romanian.pdf.

137 “Evolutia Educa?iei Romilor în România,” Roma Education Fund.

138 Bhabha, Human Rights and Adolescence.

139 “Evolutia Educa?iei Romilor în România,” Roma Education Fund.

140 “Macedonian Government Institutionalizes the Profession of Roma Educational Mediator,” Roma Education Fund, May 7, 2018, https://www.romaeducationfund.org/macedonian-government-institutionalizes-the-profession-of-roma-educational-mediator/.

141 “2019 Annual Report Roma Education Fund,” Roma Education Fund, accessed February 28, 2020, https://www.romaeducationfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Short-report-REF-AR2019-1.pdf.

142 “Romani Children,” Romani Early Years Network, accessed February 28, 2020, www.reyn.eu/romani-children/.

143 Ibid.

144 “Play Hubs in Local Communities: the Toy For Inclusion Approach,” TOY For Inclusion, June 2020, https://www.reyn.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/FAQs-TOY-For-Inclusion.pdf.

145 “Romani Children,” Romani Early Years Network.

146 Ibid.


About Morgan Selander and Emily Walter

Morgan is a European Studies major with a double minor in Global Business

Emily is a Junior at BYU majoring in Latin American Studies and minoring in International Development. She served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Montevideo, Uruguay for 18 months and grew to love the people there. Emily's dream is to work within the Humanitarian effort for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and would like to aid those in Latin American countries. Her hope is to give children increased educational opportunities within Latin America and help them have the desire to pursue a secondary education.

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