Lifelong Learning and the Roma Minority in Western and Southern Europe

Cover of Lifelong Learning and the Roma Minority in Western and Southern Europe

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(12 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xii
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Abstract

This introduction from Andrea Óhidy and Katalin R. Forray provides a brief overview of the social and education situation of European Roma and also about the structure of this book. Roma are here described as a ‘hidden minority’ (see the country study about Italy from Valeria Cavioni), because – although they are the largest minority group living in Europe for more than a hundred years – we still know very little about them. Although most of the Roma people have been living for centuries in European countries, their situation is still different from the non-Roma population; they often suffered from poverty and exclusion. There is a host of Roma, especially in Southern and in Eastern Europe, who is considered to be the most disadvantaged group in European societies, for example, regarding their (1) health situation, (2) on the labour and (3) on the housing market and (4) also in education. Questions of education are the central elements of politics making the situation of Roma better. To fulfil these requirements some European countries have taken determined steps. As Natascha Hofmann in the country study about Germany wrote, we are in the phase of the ‘dawn of learning’ because there are more and more policies and programs to develop attainment and success of Roma in European education and lifelong learning. This book gives an overview about retrospective and prospective tendencies in the situation of European Roma in education and lifelong learning.

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In this chapter, Natascha Hofmann discusses the policy measures for improving the (education) situation of Roma in Europe. It concentrates on the post-war turning points and corresponding discourses before reviewing aims, outcomes and legacies of the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015 proclaimed by the European Union (EU). According to Hofmann the past decades reveal a shift in the discourse of how Roma living conditions and perspectives are perceived in Europe. Reasons for that can be seen in processes referring to fields of bottom-up movements of Roma organisations, top-down approaches of the EU and its member states, shifting borders and the implementation of human rights. Outcomes of the Decade of Roma Inclusion show the importance of educational achievements, but also the importance of educational work of mentors and mediators within the communities and within the regional and national societies. Regarding the bottom-up movement of Roma organisations there seems to be a generation change not only regarding educational achievements but also by dealing with being visible as Roma and by promoting new narratives of being Roma.

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In this chapter, the author analyses the education situation of Sinti and Roma in Germany and calls for a ‘Dawn of Learning!’ The author asks: Who is learning (from whom and for whom)? What is learned? What has to be learned? To answer these questions firstly the author describes the social and legal situation of the Roma minority in Germany then analyses their attainment in the German education system. With the help of two studies (Hundsalz, 1982; Strauss, 2011) the author demonstrates that educational attainments of German Sinti and Roma had significantly increased over time. Then the author emphasises the importance of mentoring programmes – involving Sinti and Roma as educational mentors – especially for their important role in the integration process. Lastly, the author shows the results of her own study aimed at revealing correlations of education and integration opportunities of Roma youth, with or without a limited residence permit in Germany (Hofmann, 2011). The question: What has been learned – so far? The author answers as followed: A dawn of learning for mutual respect and appreciation can be seen. The question: What has to be learned? The author’s answer: she wishes for a common aim of our learning processes to be a conscious and respectful handling of diversity which allows differences but focuses on common ground as a starting point for social negotiation to shape the society in which we want to live – on regional, national and European grounds.

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At a European level, despite the numerous policies developed in relation to the inclusion of Roma, Roma continue to be discriminated. With regard to education, Roma children remain among the lowest academic achievers in all European countries and the same is reported in Greece. This chapter discusses aspects of life for Roma living in Greece, with an emphasis on education: first, it details aspects of Greek Roma’s social and cultural life; second it focuses on Greek Roma’s education (educational situation, policies and supportive programmes for Roma children); third, it presents studies which have started to examine contexts where the Greek Roma have experienced some educational progression against the odds.

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In this chapter, the author describes the education of Roma, Sinti and Caminanti (RSC) children in Italy focussing on possible pathways to school inclusion. According to available national reports, there are about 140,000 RSC people living in Italy, who the author calls a ‘hidden minority’. The author provides detailed information on their ethnic origins and traditions, describes their legal and social situation, culture and language. Then the author outlines the attainment of RSC in the Italian education system and the most important policies to support their successful education. In conclusion, the author presents selected programmes to promote social inclusion and education of RSC children.

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In this chapter the author outlines the educational situation for Roma in Norway, where there are two main groups of Romani-speaking people, referred to as Roma and Romani people, who have lived in Norway for centuries. Both have a status of national minorities. After describing the social situation of the Norwegian Roma minority, the author shows their culture and language. Then the author outlines the characteristics of the Norwegian education system and the educational attainment of Roma. After presenting the most important policies and support programmes for Roma Education, the author presents findings from her project ‘Educational Situation for Roma Pupils in Norway: Silenced Narratives on Schooling and Future’.

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In this chapter the authors portray the situation of the Roma population in Portugal as a changing picture. They present a description of the social situation and living conditions of the Roma people of Portugal through the systematisation of the main results obtained from research conducted recently as part of the ‘Strategy for the integration of Roma communities 2013–2020’ and give a detailed analysis of the educational dimension in various levels of education, highlighting a public policy created in 2016, the Operational Program for the Promotion of Education. This programme, inspired by a civil society project and converted into a public policy due to its innovative character, supports Roma students in higher education and is funded by the Office of the High Commissioner for Migration. The authors describe the Roma Communities in Portugal with special regard to their social situation, their culture and language. Then the authors present an analysis about the educational attainment of the Roma in Portugal and the most important policies and support programmes for Roma education, which are considered as the key to the social integration of Roma communities. Finally, they describe some successful programmes: the OPRE, RESCUR and Dreams Teens Programs.

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In this chapter, the authors describe the developments towards Roma inclusion in Spain through Successful Educational Actions. First, the authors describe the main characteristics of the Spanish Roma Minority with special regard to their cultural and linguistic diversity and deprivated social situation. After a brief overview of the Spanish education system, the authors give a detailed picture of the educational attainment of the Roma minority in Spain. After then the authors present and analyse the most important successful policies and support programmes for Roma education.

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In this chapter, the author characterises the situation of Roma in the educational system of Sweden, focusing on achievements after year 2000 and on challenges for the future. A brief historical background is initially presented to frame the discussion, including the processes of getting access to the formal educational system, followed by an overview of the socioeconomic situation of Roma and a presentation of the recognition of Roma as a national minority in 2000 and the Strategy for Roma Inclusion 2012–2032. The second part of the chapter is focusing on the educational situation of Roma, more specifically on the years from 2000 until the present, also presenting a Roma example and findings from a study concerning higher education and the first course for Roma mediators working in schools. The conclusion discusses some of the achievements reached during recent years as well as challenges and priorities for the future of the Roma minority.

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In this chapter, the author provides an overview of some central issues of the book. First she shows the similarities in the challenges to increase the participation and success of Roma people in education and lifelong learning in the selected European countries; then she discusses their policies and support programmes, which on the one hand try to improve the social situation of the Roma while promoting minority language and culture on the other hand. The author finds the reason for their similarities regarding the wording, defining and communicating and also concerning the main ideas and concrete projects for possible solutions, in the Roma inclusion policy of the European Union in the frame of the Open Method of Coordination, which has been introduced within the Lisbon Strategy, linked to the idea of lifelong learning. She considers the realisation of these policy measures at national, regional and local levels to have shown only unsatisfactory results until now.

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Index

Pages 203-211
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Cover of Lifelong Learning and the Roma Minority in Western and Southern Europe
DOI
10.1108/9781838672638
Publication date
2019-11-22
Editors
ISBN
978-1-83867-263-8