Report of the Conference on the Harmonisation of Teaching Materials in Romani Language, 2003

CONFERENCE ON THE HARMONISATION OF TEACHING MATERIALS IN ROMANI LANGUAGE
26 – 27 May 2003, Strasbourg

Opening of the Conference

The Council of Europe (hereinafter CoE) launched a transversal conference on the Harmonisation of Teaching Materials in Romani Language 26 –27 May. The Conference was organised jointly by the Directorate for Social Cohesion (DG III) – Migration and Roma/Gypsies Department and the Directorate for Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport (DG IV).

This Conference was a four-part action area of a larger DG IV project: Education of Roma/Gypsy Children in Europe1, begun at the end of 2002 in the Council of Europe (see Appendix 4). The action areas of the main project are:

Intersectoral cooperation;
Inter-institutional cooperation;
Seminars, exchanges of views and experiences;
Development of structural projects

The Conference on the Harmonisation of Teaching Materials in Romani Language was attended by national education authorities and Roma teaching material authors from seventeen (17) countries and also linguists in the field of Romani language (see the Appendix 1 - List of Participants).

The Conference was opened by Mr. Mazza, Director of School, Out of School and Higher Education from DG IV and Mrs Miranda Vuolasranta Special Advisor on Roma related issues from DG III Migration and Roma Gypsy Department (see Appendix 2). The seminar Rapporteur was Mrs Miranda Vuolasranta in collaboration with project manager Mr Jean-Pierre Liégeois.

In the opening session, it was stated that the situation of Romani children´s education is still alarmingly weak. Difficulties are to be noted in the field of Roma children’s education such as:

● widespread illiteracy;
● school drop out; weak or non regular participation in school;
inadequate access to quality education leading to a low level of education for Roma and social marginalisation;
Segregation; government policy in many countries, place Roma children in special schools with mentally deficient children; Roma children are often socially but not mentally inept, owing to marginalisation and ghettoisation;
moreover parents in ordinary schools often refuse to integrate Roma children; consequently, the local municipalities in many States have found it easier to put Roma/Gypsy children in special schools or at best in separate classes which lack competent teachers and materials.

While recognising this problem and the far-reaching consequences for the European Roma population, it was agreed by the Conference participants, that they would not concentrate only on these topics, but would open up these complex issues, by considering Romani as a mothertongue and a key-factor of learning.

Background of the initiative
Some European countries have been active in producing individual textbooks or one-off ABC-books for Romani children in recent years. These textbooks are based on national needs and interests. As a rule, a complete series of teaching materials for Romani mother tongue in comprehensive schools is rarely produced.

The initiative for teaching Romani and harmonising Romani mothertongue teaching materials came from The National Board of Education (NBE) in Finland. The objective of the initiative which was made by the Director of Educational Technology and Publicity Unit, Mr. Yrjö Hyötyniemi, was to see:

how many European countries currently are producing teaching materials on Romani language learning;

what kind of materials (ABC-books, textbooks, workbooks, teacher-guides) are published;

would it be possible to network these countries with the aim of assessing which Romani teaching materials already exist and are used in schools;

consider if there is mutual interest, among the other CoE member states to produce a whole series of Romani mother tongue teaching materials from grade 1 to 9 based on a common framework in order to:

save time: producing such a series from one country would take 10-15 years
save effort: avoid the duplication of work already done in another country
save in production costs.

Expected results of this cooperation

time frame to produce a whole comprehensive school series will be
shortened from 15 - years to 3 - 5 years
the contents of teaching materials in Romani mother tongue tuition will ebe harmonised by following a common framework curriculum
once the series is completed, it can be translated into various Romani dialects and be a practical tool for the tuition of Romani as mothertongue, which will strengthen the motivation and capacities of Romani children towards education in general
it will save money and diminish the financial expenses both in the field of Roma childrens’ education and in integration policies in general
the fundamental target was to seek a more efficient implementation of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers Recommendation (2000) 4 on the education of Roma/Gypsy children in Europe; and The European Union Council and the Ministers of Education, Resolution of School provision for Gypsy and Traveller children (1989), plus other substantial international documents, resolutions and recommendations on the field of education, language, culture and history in Europe (see the Appendix 4 – Developments in the field of Roma/Gypsies children education questions in Europe; background documentation).

The Romani culture and language
The Romani language is a member of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Its roots are found in the old Indian language of Sanskrit, from which Hindi, Urdu, Marathi etc. have evolved. Romani and Hindi are sister languages though Romani was separated from the Indo-Aryan branch over two thousand years ago. Romani is an internationally spoken language, according to various sources. Approximately 20-40 million people2 in different continents and countries all over the world speak it.
The Romani language has evolved into various dialects such as: Calderas which is the most widely spoken Romani-dialect, Sinti, Kale and the Balkan dialects such as Arlia etc. All the dialects have also been influenced by the local languages. However according to Romani linguistics the basic vocabulary has stayed almost identical with the various dialects.
Forced assimilation was the official policy in many European countries until the end of the 20th century. Destroying the Romani language and culture was seen as a means of reaching that goal. The use of the Romani language was met with suspicion in many parts of Europe in the past and was not allowed to be spoken in public places. This led to loss of use of Romani language. In many parts of Europe the Romani language has disappeared as the mother tongue of Roma.
The Romani culture and language has confronted a critical situation which has existed for seven to eight hundred years in Europe. In spite of the historical split of the Romani people into three main branches known respectively as Roma, Sinti and Kale, all these population groups share basically a North-Indian origin and common cultural and linguistic heritage.
Whereas some 8 - 10 millions Roma people are living in Europe. The Kale group, living mainly in the Iberian Peninsula, has totally lost the use of their dialect decades ago and retain only a few dozen odd words, while Kale in Finland are struggling for the preservation of their language and ability to speak it. The Sinti groups, living mainly in Germanic countries and Italy, have added to their dialect a significant amount of Germanic words. The Roma tribes are also influenced by the surrounding Slavic languages, but have kept their various dialects alive to a great extent as a home-language.
Centuries of persecution and especially its culmination, represented by the Nazi genocide leading to the death of 600.000 Roma, Sinti and Kale, have physically destroyed entire generations of Romani speakers and tens of Romani dialects. It has also hampered the transmission of the cultural and linguistic heritage among the survivors.
Even if linguistic observations confirm that Romani is generally quite strong as a home language, mainly in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkan, it is often used only for in-clan oral communication, with a restricted range of functions, and is therefore losing progressively its ability to compete with majority languages in everyday life. Accordingly Romani, as a European language of modern culture, is under threat.
The Romani culture and language has always been and must remain in Europe a cross-frontier heritage as well as a component of local national and regional cultures. All over Europe, Roma, Sinti and Kale have brought a significant contribution to arts, especially music and dance, but also painting, literature, crafts of all kinds etc.
The Romani language and culture are facing a similar fate as that of many other cultures which are becoming or have become deficient and then extinct. However, the acceptance of a pluralist system of cultural values is a basic principle of mutual respect between human groups and a prerequisite for stability in Europe, and particularly in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkan.
The Roma/Gypsies and related groups need moral encouragement and political assistance in safeguarding and developing their language and culture, which seem doomed to extinction unless the European institutions, and the Council of Europe in particular, come to their aid through constructive advocacy aimed at committing their member-States into this undertaking.
Development steps related to preservation of Romani language and culture:
Encourage all member States to condemn openly all forms of discrimination against Roma (Gypsophobia - anti-ziganism) if they have not yet done so and declare the Romani culture and language a precious part of their national heritage;
Encourage all European States which comprise Romani communities to sign, ratify and implement the European Charter of Regional or Minority Languages and invite them to support the Roma, Sinti and Kale, particularly in the following fields:
education in their mother tongue on civilisation, as a part of the common European patrimony,
recognition and promotion of modern Romani, a language flexible enough to respect the various dialectal specificities but also common enough to allow efficient communication among Roma from all over Europe and meet the needs of a modern European language of culture;
professional use of Romani, for example in medical prevention and care, judicial advisory and other fields where the use of the mother tongue optimises the effects of the undertaken action;
invite the member States to support the Romani culture and language, for instance by creating university professorships in the subject and disseminating the most interesting products of Romani culture throughout Europe by means of translations, anthologies, courses, exhibitions and theatrical productions;
invite the education ministers of member States to include the history of Roma, Sinti and Kale in European history books paying special attention to their contribution to the European spirit, the persecutions they have suffered in the past and their current situation ;

General discussion of the complexity of Roma children’s education

Although, this conference did not wish to concentrate on the previously mentioned important general social difficulties in the field of Roma/Gypsies education, within this particular part of the larger project, it does recognize that the right to mother tongue tuition is one of the key-factors when considering the means to promote the right to pre-school attendance and raise the general education level of European Roma/Gypsy children.

The number one reason for the lower level of education, widely discussed also in the Conference, were the difficulties in the field of language, which the Roma children meet when they start school. Very often their ability to speak the official domestic language is weak. The Romani language spoken at home has very limited vocabulary particularly in modern society which makes these children inadequate both domestically and in their own minority language. This phenomenon is not usually recognised by the majority of teachers, who often classify the Roma/Gypsies children as less talented pupils sending them to special schools/ for the mentally handicapped or disabled. This kind of practice is common for all the European states and affects about 40% and upwards of all the Roma pupils.

The main reasons for the above mentioned difficulties in this field from the Roma point of view is as follows:

Firstly Roma children simply do not fully understand the language which is used by the teacher to teach and instruct the children to learn.

Secondly in many regions of Europe the socio-economic living conditions of Roma are so miserable, that keeping the children clean, having enough money to buy them shoes, clothes, books and other teaching materials might be an insurmountable obstacle for the parents.

Thirdly obstacles in the field of prejudices on all sides is affecting the motivation of all the three parties, namely school personnel, children and parents.

This leaves Roma children in a situation where they do not have a language to be used as a learning tool.

If parents feel that the home language is taken into consideration in school, it is a sign to them that the school is accepting Roma, that it values their background and will safeguard the continuation of the Roma community (family/visa). This is of major importance to the Roma community, helping them to associate with the surrounding society and to feel ownership with school and the education of their children.

According to national experiences, which were presented during the Conference, these kind of "connecting points or bridges" between school/society and Roma homes clearly promote the integration and interest in educational matters in general among the Roma. Last but not least, the use of a mother tongue language gives the children a greater chance of become bi-lingual, having two useable languages for learning - the official domestic language and the Romani language.

This strengthens the children’s identity in pre-school education and their ability to complete the obligatory part of comprehensive school and to go further with their studies. It also helps to prevent school drop-out among the Roma children. This area is considered to be a priority in various documents highlighting the need of positive developments in the field of Roma/Gypsies children’s education. In this area, as in others, the presence of Roma children in nearly all member states, their possible presence in any school class, means that information has to be widely distributed.

The discussion concluded:

there is a lot of exciting material and expertise, political and administrative support and ways to disseminate the information already at the national level i.e. in Finland, Romania, Sweden, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia and in several other countries;

the Finnish authorities who were at the origin of this initiative said that there should be a division of labour when working with these items at international level;

there should be the highest level of expertise given to strengthening the position of the Romani language, which should go over and above any linguistic conflicts which have been slowing down the development process of Romani languag in the past;

the will of the Council of Europe to make a success in this area is strong; however, no member state can be used as an example for the creation and dissemination of material; on the other hand, the Roma and their different dialects is something which all the States have in common and this gives strength to a European initiative

the participants of the conference discussed also the rules to develop a global strategy, which is both coordinated and creates a lasting link to all existing structures, it can also develop an exchange of information on Romani language, culture and history taking account the lack of information on Roma/Gypsies in public institutions, such as libraries;

a need to create a framework guidelines of romani language curriculum on European level was seen as an important near future goal;

to raise the question of materials - what already exists or what should be produced; this should be done by means of networks such as Interface collection3, which has existed for 10 years; they have a current network in 14 states for the production of books for Roma children;

to draw up a catalogue of pedagogical materials available with the means for teachers to obtain these materials: the questionnaire drawn up for the Conference participants had this as an objective and was established to get an overview of what exists in the various countries; the participants are requested to study the Appendix 4, of the compilation of national practices and production of Romani teaching materials for further information about the presentations made in the Conference;

a repertoire of over 600 documents useful for the Conference was prepared by
Mr. Peter Bakker4, this repertoire is available on internet. The repertoire is an excellent basic tool from which those who need documents and Roma materials can find them;

from these above-mentioned documents we would be able to adapt what already exists, after evaluation and selection. Certainly very high quality material is little known and should be re-examined, possibly adapted in order to give wider scope and dissemination and translation in member States. Exchanges of information should be organised ie. between Sweden and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) where Roma migration to Sweden is high and materials produced in Sweden for Roma could be transferred to FYROM and used there. One can also add that many Balkan refugee Roma are also present in France, Denmark, Germany and elsewhere and that the same materials could be directly used by them.

in any case all areas and all needs are not covered and production of new material is necessary which is specific to European requirements

the question of training of teachers is also a priority and should be part of the reflection; a good teacher will know how to use information and pedagogical material; a teacher who has insufficient training, even if he/she has good materials, will not effectively use the materials; a seminar will be held in Dijon July 2003 which undertakes teacher training on the question of language, the questions of history and culture and reflecting the results of this current conference

during the conference, Finland and several other countries, announced their interest to further the initiative of producing a series of teaching materials on Romani language as mother tongue, which generally was seen as a practical tool for better implementation of the international recommendations and resolutions on Romani children´s education.

Summary of the general discussion

The recognition of Roma children’s mother tongue and culture in conjunction with the national school curriculum is seen as a starting point to initiate positive measures to motivate both Roma parents and children. Recognition of Romani as a mother tongue, however creates a need for a Romani curriculum to be followed nationally. This leads us to the recognition of Romani language as a pan-European and transversally used language. Although Romani comprises various dialects, according to tradition the Romani teaching material authors and linguists consider it as important to study the possibility of creating a European framework guidelines for Romani as a mother tongue curriculum. These guidelines would build up a structure of progressively extended knowledge of Romani as a mother tongue language usable in our modern societies. The European framework curriculum could also function as a common guideline to the authors and producers of Romani teaching materials, to be taken account, when preparing national and local school curriculum related to the Romani tuition.

Evaluation of the Conclusions and action-plan

This initiative for co-operation in Romani mother tongue teaching material production, was unanimously accepted both among the participating member countries and the authors of Romani material;

Internal means of the Council of Europe
(seminars, internet, activities within the Education project of DG IV and activities of the DG III)

Organisation of an internal Council of Europe meeting to establish a strategy and action plan for the following:

to organise a working meeting in early January 2004, with DG III, DG IV Education Project in charge and Modern Languages Section and Secretariat of European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages; set up a working/coordination group in order to go through all the proposals/output of the Conference, brainstorm, select and organise the proposals in order to choose concrete and realistic projects to be started during 2004;

the objectives of this Conference are open to other partners; by way of networking the various sectors involved in the field of Roma/Gypsies education, by linking adapted action plans and the various other programs;

to seek possible cooperation and financial partners for this CoE project such as:
- other international organisations ie EU-Commission (Culture 2000,
Comenius, Phare programme/structural funds)
- Open Society Institute (Roma Education Fund)
- Unicef
- CoE/OSCE/EU within the context of the joint project Southern-
Eastern European Stability Pact
- States applying for social loan from European Social Development
Bank or World Bank Group - national education ministries,

The question of coordination needs to be sorted out;

the first phase of the harmonisation project of Romani teaching materials ought to be done as a separate project financially assisted by the international community, by seeking finance from the European Commission or other international sources (the secretary is examining the possibilities of finding co-operation partners for a longer project). - These projects usually take 3 -5 years; the financial support could be for the a) coordination of a group of experts and b) to the working party of Roma authors of teaching material with the aim of preparing/complementing the production of earlier mentioned teaching series to grades 1-9, the material should be a progressively advancing teaching programme of Romani as a mother tongue language; each grade materials should include: ABC- or text book, working book and a teacher guide;

to ask the “modern languages section of Council of Europe to study a “threshold level” of mother tongue tuition, the results of which will be very useful in the drawing up of general principles of European-wide Romani language curriculum, which is to be seen as the starting point for all the latter actions;

to create a reflection group to prepare and draw up a draft of common curricula on Romani mother tongue tuition and to make guidelines for a European Romani language curriculum at comprehensive school level. This was suggested by the Education ministries, and shared by others; this would enable the member states to set up a unified strategy in their countries for the education of Roma children in the context of their particular educational system;

to set up a network/working group of Romani teaching material authors which can study the possibility of creating a series of teaching materials used in comprehensive schools from grade 1 – 9, containing text book, work book and teacher guide for each grade; with a shared responsibility of the production of this series;

to inform the secretariat of the European Charter for Minority or Regional Languages which should systematically study the question of Romani when studying country reports;

to see with the Modern Languages Centre in Graz, what possibility there is of organising a seminar on the question of the production of pedagogical materials in Romani in cooperation with the University of Graz, where a linguistic project on Romani is being undertaken by Dieter Halvwachs. The theme of the seminar should be very precise as well as the choice of participants;

to organise in consultation with the European Modern Languages Centre in Graz; a training of the above mentioned Romani teaching material authors, aimed to take account of the European standards for modern languages and being socio-culturally orientated (integrating Romani language, culture and history in the curriculum; consultation with Romani teacher trainers particularly on how to get the best didactical use of the material series which will be produced;

to use and consolidate the work done by Peter Bakker and Hristo Kyuchukov concerning the directory of “Publications in Romani” as already mentioned, which includes 600 published Romani materials such as: texts, dictionaries, grammars, ABC-books. CDs, records, computer games, internet sites, periodicals – and some museums to do an analysis, even a statistical one, of these 600 titles directory, in order to know what has been produced, what is lacking, in which dialects, in which country etc. and make a table with these data;

to study the financial implications for all the above; to examine the financial potential of the member states who are interested in this project, which could coordinate their activities and also make voluntary contributions;

the final phase of the goal, once the Romani mothertongue teaching material series is completed on the international level, the national education authorities in various CoE member countries would take over the responsibility to translate and publish the whole series into various spoken Romani language dialects in the country for the use of comprehensive school and Romani tuition as a mother tongue.

Appendix 1
REVISED LIST OF PARTICIPANTS

Armenia

Ms Anna Gevorgyan
Chief Expert on Curriculum Development
Centre for Educational Reforms
Ministry for Educational Reforms
Ministry of Education and Science
Yerevan 375010, Terian 1 Str, room 24,
Armenia
Fax: + 3741 524684
Tel. + 3749 436172
E-mail: generses@freenet.am

Austria

Dr. Dieter HALWACHS
Universität Graz
Institut für Sprachwissenschaft
Merangasse 70
A-8010 Graz
Tel. 0043 316380-24-26
Fax: 0043 316 380 97 82
E-mail: dieter.halwachs@uni-graz.at

Bulgaria

Ms. Liley Kovatcheva
Expert in Romani Language
Ministry of Education
Bul. Dondukov 1
SOFIA – 1000
Tel.: 00 359 988 34 65
E-mail: Ikovatcheva@yahoo.com; kxam@applet-bg.com

Croatia

Ms Jasna Dervis
Permanent representation of Croatia to the Council of Europe
70 allée de la Robertsau
67000 Strasbourg
Tel : +33 3 88 37 07 06
e-mail : rpcro@noos.fr

Denmark

Mr Peter Bakker
Linguistik-Aarhus Universitet
Nobelparken
Jens Chr Skous Vej 7
DK - 8000 Arhus C
TEL/ 45 89 42 65 62
FAX/ 45 89 42 65 70
E-mail: linpb@hum.au.dk

Finland

Mr. Yrjö Hyötyniemi
National Board of Education
Educational Tecnology and Publicity Unit
PL -Box. 380
00531 Helsinki
FINLAND
E-mail: yrjo.hyotyniemi@oph.fi
Tel. +00-358-9-774 774 77

Mr Päivi Majaniemi
Pohjadanvedenkuja 5D 58
00980 Helsinki
E-mail: majakovskaja@hotmail.com
Tel. +00-358-9-(0)50 542 4659

France
Mr. Marcel Courthiade
IRU Commissionner for
Language and Linguistic Rights
E-mail: coe2mc@yahoo.fr

Mr. Régis Alviset
Directeur Ecole « Les Voyageurs »
Rue Django Reinhardt
21000 DIJON
France
France
Tel. : 03.80.68.28.64
Fax.: 03-80.68.28.64
E-mail: ec-el-les-voyageurs-dijon-21@ac-dijon.fr

Ms Carole Laffargue
Enseignante en milieu tsigane
Ecole maternelle Ariane-Icare
67000 Strasbourg
Tel : 06 88 92 56 26/+ 33 3 88 34 48 55
E-mail : matariane.Strasbourg@wanadoo.fr

Hungary

Ms Erica Csovcsics
Gandhi Foundation Grammar School
Pecs 7629
Komjath Aladar utca 5
Hungary

Ms Viktoria Mohacsi
Educational Ministry/Oktatasi Miniszterium
miniszteri biztos/is her position name
Oktatasi Miniszterium
Budapest
Szalay utca 10-14
1054 Hungary

Lithuania

Mr Vytautas Toleikis
Foundation for Educational Change, Director
Address: J. Basanavičiaus 5-112, LT-2009 Vilnius, Lithuania
Phone: +370 5 2620200,
Fax: +370 5 2622410
E-mail: vytautast@muza.lt

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)

Mr. Sejdo Jasarov
Kuzman Sapkarev no: 1a
91000 Skopje, Macedonia
+389-31-312 762
Jasasrov@netscape.net

Poland

Mrs Malgorzata Rozycka
Ministry of National Education and Sport
Powstancow Warszawy 1
50 – 951 Wroclaw
Poland
Tel: +48 71 340 66 00
Fax: +48 71 790 71 11
E-mail : mn@duw.pl

Slovakia

Dr. Anna BUTASOVA, PhD.
National Institute for Education
P.O.Box 26, Pluhova 8
830 00 Bratislava
Slovak Republic
 
Dr. Frantisek Godla
Director
Gymnasium Komenskeho 40
083 01 Sabinov
Slovak Republic

Mr Jan Cangar
Statny pedagogicky ustav
Pluhova 8
830 00 Bratislava 3
Slovenska republika
E-mail: Jan.cangar@spu.sanet.sk
Tel + 421 2 44 37 20 35
Fax + 421 2 44 37 11 87

Slovenia

Ms Sonja Rutar, Teacher Trainer
Organisation: Educational Research Institute, Developmental
Research Centre for Pedagogical Initiatives Step by Step
Gerbiceva 62, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Tel.: +386 31 318 125 (mobile)
Fax: +386 1 429 20 25
E-mail: mehurcki@siol.net, sonja.rutar@guest.arnes.si

Sweden

Ms Mai Beijer
Mydigheten för skolutveckling
Karlbergsv 77-81
113 35 Stockholm
E-mail: mai.beijer@skolmyndigheten.se

Ms Angelina Dimitri Taikon
Täppgränd 8
121 33 Enskededalen
Angelina.dimiter@chello.se

Romania

Mr Gheorghe Sarau
Ministry of Education and Research
University of Bucharest
Str. Gal Berthelot, 30
RO - Bucuresti Sect.1
Tel : +40 21 33 00 513
E-mail: minorities@men.edu.ro

United Kingdom

Mr Thomas Acton
Professor of Romani Studies
University of Greenwich
Avery Hill Road
Eltham, London SE9 2HB
Tel.: +44 181 331 8923/8900
Fax: +44 181 331 8905
E-mail: t.a.acton@greenwich.ac.uk

Mr Arthur Ivatts
Stoneleigh
Standedge Road
Dobcross
Saddleworth
GB – Oldham OL3 5NR
Tel: +44 145 787 27 64
E-mail: a.ivatts@Ukgateway.net

Directorate General of Social Cohesion (DG III)– Roma/Gypsies Division

Mrs Miranda Vuolasranta
Special Adviser in Roma Related Issues
Council of Europe, F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Tel.: + 33 3 88 41 48 20 - Fax: + 33 3 88 41 27 31
E-mail: Miranda.Vuolasranta@coe.int

Ms Judith Butler
Roma/Gypsy Activities, Documentation Centre Council of Europe,
F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Tel.: + 33 3 88 41 29 91 - Fax: + 33 3 88 41 27 31
E-mail: judy.butler@coe.int
http://www.coe.int/Romagypsies

Mr Adi Sinani
Trainee
Roma/Gypsy Activities,
F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Tel.: + 33 3 90 21 45 60 - Fax: + 33 3 88 41 27 31
E-mail: Adi.Sinani@coe.int

Ms Olga Chashchikhina
Trainee
Roma/Gypsy Activities,
F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Tel.: + 33 3 90 21 22 18 - Fax: + 33 3 88 41 27 31
E-mail: Olga.Chashchikhina@coe.int

Directorate General of SocialCohesion (DG IV)– Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport

Mr Jean-Pierre Liégeois
Project Director
Centre de recherches tsiganes
Université René Descartes
45, rue des Saints Pčres
75270 Paris cedex 06
Tel.: 01 42 86 21 12
Fax: 01 42 86 20 65
E-mail: jean-pierre.liegeois@paris5.sorbonne.fr

Mr Gabriele Mazza
Director of School, out-of-school and Higher Education
Council of Europe, F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Tel.: + 33 3 88 26 29
E-mail: Gabriele.Mazza@coe.int

Dr Carole Reich
Project Leader
“Education of Roma/Gypsy Children”
Council of Europe, F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Tel.: + 33 3 88 22 45 - Fax
E-mail:carole.reich@coe.int

Mme Marie-Laure LAMBOUR
Division "Politiques éducatives et Dimension européenne"
Direction de l'Education et de l'Enseignement supérieur
DGIV
Conseil de l'Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg
Tel: + 33 3 88 41 35 64, Fax:+ 33 3 88 41 27 06
E-mail: marie-laure.lambour@coe.int

Ms Aurora AILINCAI
Direction de l'Education et de l'Enseignement supérieur
DGIV
Conseil de l'Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg

Interpreters (Romani-English)

Ms Diana Kirilova
3 Square la Fontaine
75016 PARIS
E-mail: crt@paris5.sorbonne.fr
 
Mr. Sejdo Jasarov
Kuzman Sapk
arev no: 1a
91000 Skopje, Macedonia
+389-31-312 762
Jasasrov@netscape.net

Mme Rémy JAIN
Mr Robert SZYMANSKI
Mr Olivier OBRECHT

Appendix I

Opening by Mrs Miranda Vuolasranta

Dear experts
on education and romani teaching material issues,
ladies and gentleman

It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you warmly to this first conference on the harmonisation of teaching material in romani language. I have also the honour to bring the greetings of Ms Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Director General of Social Cohesion III in Council of Europe, to this meeting with her regrets of not being able her self to open the conference because of overlapping working duties. Mrs. Battaini-Dragoni transmitted her appreciation of this stock-taking meeting of examining the possibilities to promote romani children’s possibilities to equal education via strengthening romani children’s cultural identity and linguistical rights to own mothertongue.

This Conference is indeed an exceptional occasion to get an overview of today’s situation in Europe concerning education policies towards Roma, Gypsies and Travellers. Indeed, over the last 10-15 years, a large number of European countries have adopted (or are in the process of adopting) policy measures to protect the rights of the Roma population and ensure their equal access to basic rights. After a decade of policy implementation and efforts to find innovative ways to improve the living standards of Roma communities in Europe, the results have not met all expectations. We cannot but conclude that a large amount of work remains to be done. This is particularly true in certain areas like education of minorities such like Roma, to which not enough attention has been paid when drawing the national education strategies (national curriculum) and implementing the given international guidelines and recommendations on preventing their social marginalisation. There is probably a need to consider new parameters and indicators to monitor and evaluate the implementation of policies that intergovernmental bodies should use. Given its mandate, the Council of Europe has been in the forefront in promoting policy-making in the field of Roma/Gypsies. The Council of Europe is promoting comprehensive strategies and the effective participation of the groups concerned in the elaboration and implementation of such policies directly affecting them.

The Roma, Gypsies and Travellers form a group of approximately 8-10 million people in Europe. They are to be found in almost all 45 Council of Europe member states and indeed, in some Central and Eastern European countries, they represent over 5% of the population.
Yet, although they have been in Europe since the 14th century, very often they are not recognised by the majority society as a fully-fledged European people and they have suffered throughout their history in Europe from rejection and persecution. As a result of centuries of rejection many Roma/Gypsy communities today live in very difficult conditions, often on the fringe of the societies in the countries where they live, and their participation in public life is very limited. It is also very difficult for them to ensure that their contribution to European culture is fully acknowledged.

Since 1993 and the Parliamentary Recommendation Rec. (1993) 1203 on Gypsies in Europe (rapporteur Ms. Josephine Verspaget), the Roma/Gypsy issue has been at the heart of three of the Council's top priorities: protection of minorities, the fight against racism and intolerance and the fight against social exclusion.
One of the main objectives of the Council of Europe, as an intergovernmental organisation, is to encourage member states to adopt a comprehensive approach to Roma/Gypsy issues. Accordingly, the Council of Europe decided to place Roma/Gypsy issues on an institutional footing and in 1995 the Committee of Ministers set up a Specialist Group on Roma/Gypsies (MG-S-ROM), which is composed of members nominated by Governments (some of them being Roma officials) and of some Roma experts or representatives of NGOs. This Committee of experts has the role of advising member states on all Roma/Gypsy-related matters and encouraging international authorities to take action where it was needed. Its role complements that of the Secretary General's Co-ordinator of Activities on Roma/Gypsies, responsible for promoting co-operation with other relevant international organisations and developing working relations with Roma, Gypsy and Traveller organisations.

The MG-S-ROM has been playing a major role in Europe in drafting recommendations on sectorial policies for Roma. Two of them have been already adopted by the Committee of Ministers: the Recommendation R (2000) 4 on the education of Roma/Gypsy children in Europe and the Recommendation R (2001) 17 on improving the economic and employment situation of Roma/Gypsies and Travellers in Europe. Some other recommendations which currently are on preparation stage which are to be mentioned: the improvement of housing conditions of Roma/Gypsy communities and Travellers in Europe, access to health care for Roma and Travellers, as well as a recommendation on the free movement and encampment of Travellers in Europe.

Over the past 10 years the The Council of Europe Group of Specialists on Roma/Gypsy Issues (MG-S-ROM) has been giving guidance to member states on how to address the main challenge of breaking the vicious circle which affects the Roma, Gypsies and Travellers: poverty, low level of education, high unemployment. Year 2000 it´s mandate was renewed to include the monitoring of the implementation of Committee of Ministers’ Recommendations related to the education and employment of Roma, this gives to it a more efficient way to follow the imlementation of inter alia the national education policies related to Roma.

In order not to remain too theoretical, I would like to share with you a concrete example, which is unfortunately still nowadays a frequent case in all European countries, and which explains this vicious circle of marginalisation I was referring to, and why a comprehensive policy embracing particularly in the field of education is needed:
We could take as an example a Roma or a Traveller family who is living for dozens of years in an isolated - and often not legalised settlement - with no electricity, water supply or sewage, with little or no access to basic public or transport services. These families are completely marginalized from the beginning. This creates a sort of autarkical living environment where these families have no contacts with the majority, which has clear incidence on the knowledge of the national language, particularly for children. This linguistic handicap is one of the first obstacles faced by Roma and Traveller children entering school. Another frequent reproach made by teachers and parents of majority children is the bad hygiene of Roma and Traveller children and their difficulty to socialise. But the reasons are simple: how can it be different for these children who are living in ghettoes with no water or drainage? How can these children be taught hygiene at school if coming back “home” they are living in shanty towns? In too many European countries, their social marginalisation give reasons for society to put them in schools for handicapped children which ruins the potential of these children for their whole life (“double losers”) or demonstrations by majority parents who do not accept Roma children in the same classes. That has find it´s solution in the high percentage of Roma children placed in special schools where the quality of teaching doesn’t matter. How can they be socialised if they are not given the possibility to have inter-ethnic contacts with the majority?

Even if families are willing to send their children to school, they face technical obstacles such as no bus transport or no road access to the settlements. The domestic language of the country, what the Roma children face in the school when beginning the elementary school, is most often a foreign language or a not well known for the children. This leaves the children to confront a situation where she/he ought to understand but can not, and will therefore be handled as mentally retard or not talent pupil. The existing language skill for these children is restricted home vocabulary based mothertongue only orally heard and in school confronting a new language which often are not known all or only in very limited vocabulary. These children doesn’t have any complete language for learning.
In addition, at home Romani children cannot get any help from often illiterate parents, and suffer direct or indirect discrimination in the normal schooling system – for those who had a chance to get in. As a result, sooner or later the children drop out of school. This is accentuated by the precarity of these families and the need to send their children on the street to gain some money. A common reproach made to Roma is their low consideration for education. It is true that education is not a priority in the system of values of the Roma population, particularly for girls, but we should reckon that it has never been in history for populations living in poor conditions whose first need was to survive. The education has also been used as a tool against romani culture and language particularly in Eastern Europe.
Because of their low level of education and discrimination from the majority – Roma and Travellers have little access to employment services. The fact that they are living in ghettoes, far from city centres add to their unemployment situation; Without real job opportunities they are kept in poor living conditions. We reach a full circle.

For that reason, the MG-S-ROM - in parallel with completing the set of specific recommendations - is now discussing a general recommendation on policies concerning Roma/Gypsies in Europe.
This recommendation will propose a framework for drawing up and implementing national strategies for the improvement of the situation of Roma, Gypsies and Travellers. It will indeed cover all sectors previously mentioned (education, employment, housing and health) so that the goal of the Council of Europe to assist and encourage governments to elaborate and implement long-term comprehensive strategies is reflected in one single document.

Among other reasons which may explain why the results of policies and actions undertaken by governments have not met all expectations yet, we can add: Lack of political support or willingness, particularly from local authorities, to take urgent measures which would break the vicious circle the second biggest reason is the lack of financial support and adequate budgetary allocations;
The Council of Europe has taken some of these elements in assessing its action and programming new priorities. As an example, the Committee of Ministers has approved in 2002 a new mandate for the MG-S-ROM which includes visits to member states to monitor the implementation of its recommendations concerning Roma, Gypsies and Travellers.

As an example of efficient and faire policy could be taken the implementation of general recommendation R(2000)4 of Roma children’s education, by clear commitment to public teaching materials (textbooks, workbooks and teacher guides) in the Romani language. This underlines the key role of national education authorities and the Roma teachers as the authors of romani language material.

When referring to Council of Europe actions, we should not forget the possibility for national and local authorities to obtain a loan from the Council of Europe Development Bank (with the support of the ministries of Finance) for project development.

At this stage, I would like to inform you about two forthcoming events including inter alia the issue of Roma children’s education such as the Conference “Roma in an Expanding Europe: Challenges for the Future”, which the World Bank, Soros Foundation and the European Commission are holding in Budapest on 29 June and 1 July and the seminar on cultural identities and languages of Roma, Travellers and related groups on 15-16 of September organised by Social Cohesion III /Roma /Gypsies Division, here in Strasbourg.

Last but not least,
One channel how the Council of Europe action aims to be verified is via this new project “Roma/Gypsy participation in building Europe: the field of education”. It entails inter alia: the harmonisation and producing of textbooks, workbooks, teacher-guides for romani children for comprehensive school from grade 1-9 in Europe.
It do have a clear reference to Committee of Ministers Recommendation No. (2000)R on education of Roma/Gypsy children in Europe and Rec(2001)15 on history teaching in twenty-first century Europe. The reason for this activity is the well-known fact that the level of education among Roma population in Europe is the lowest of all population groups in Europe (in comparison with the majority of the countries).
With lack of education the marginalisation of the Roma population will continue, integration remains difficult and the Romani culture remains under threat. Without comprehensive and common package of teaching material, on romani, there is no tool whatsoever to start with the shortening of the existing gap between the Roma community and society in general. That leads us to the situation where romani as a mothertongue and part of Roma children’s cultural identity will not be preserved nor be part of the educational process. In order to encourage integration there is a need to support the identity and culture of Roma children. This requires publishing of romani textbooks, workbooks and teacher-guide’s .

This goal is however not an easy task. The romani language has been for a very long time an oral language used only by Roma themselves. The vocabulary is not developed to the level of a modern language; this creates a need for producing a number of basic words such as pencil, ruler etc. Teachers should be provided with very detailed guides owing to their lack of specialised training. Textbooks cannot be based on existing books written for teaching mother tongue or foreign languages.
The most challenging feature in publishing romani textbooks is that the number of teachers mastering the romani language and at the same time being able to act as an author is extremely limited. This means that it will take a long time until we can create a whole series of books for children ages 6-15.
Some countries (like Finland, Sweden, Romania, Hungary, Macedonia etc.) have started to produce textbooks on romani language. There is a clear need for a European co-operation on producing a complete series of romani language teaching materials for comprehensive school to grade 1 –9. A group of national producers who will: net-work them with each other, share experiences, harmonise the pedagogical/didactical curriculum, create common guidelines for teaching romani as mothertongue, produce a series of teaching materials, complete each grade and safeguarding further learning and study of romani in higher education. This responsibly can be shared between several countries.
All the partners should give the copyrights to other participating countries in order to have texts translated to their own local dialects of romani language; even the lay-out and pictures might have to be localized in the national Roma culture.
instead of 15 years.

As result of this co-operation: Timeframe to product a whole comprehensive school series will be shortened;
the contents of teaching materials in romani will be harmonised;
the materials produced by different countries can be translated in various romani dialects used in the respected countries, and in this context I want to underline that the very project aims not to put it´s efforts on the ongoing linguistical interest on standardisation of romani language but, more providing the European national States useful concrete tool to open a door for better integration of Roma, Sinti, Traveller via more democratic and culturally equal way of participation in education. This according to romani language teachers experience motivates the parents to send their children to schools for the simple reason that then the school is not only the gadgé /majority school but gives a signal to belonging also to Roma; when in the past school was used as a tool to forcibly assimilate the Roma and destroy the romani culture and language; the last but not least reason for this co-operation is that it will save money and diminish the national financial expenses.

There is to be mentioned some more precise and concrete benefits of this kind of co-operation which I hope to bring in the discussion during our work, but now I’ll thank you of having opportunity to open this valuably meeting and wishing for us a successful and creative conference!

Appendix 3

List of published teaching materials (26-27 May 2003)

Romania

Mirri Ćhib, I RRomani, Paula Mailat, Olga Mărcuş, Mirena Cionca, Ed. Academprint, 2000, Romania
Programul meu zilnic / Murro dĭvesutno progrŕmo / Az én mai prográmom, Ed. By Unicef, the Ministry of Education and Research and Romani Criss, 2001, Romania
Paraměsă haj gilă rromané / Poveşti şi cântece rrome, Dr. C. Ş. Nicolăescu-Plopşor, Ed. Kriterion Bucarest, 1997, Romania
Rromii, India şi Limba RRomani, Dr. Gheorghe Sarău, Ed. Kriterion Bucarest, 1998, Romania
Rromane Paraměća / Povesti Ţigăneşti, Petre Copoiu and Gheorghe Sarău, bilingual edition, Ed. Kriterion Bucarest, 1996, Romania
Rromane Taxtaja / Nestemate din Folclorul Rromilor, Costică Băţălan and Gheorghe Sarău, bilingual edition, Ed. Kriterion Bucarest, 2002, Romania
Suferinţi / Dukhalipen, Marius Lakatos and Gheorghe Sarău, bilingual edition RRomani/Romanian Ed. Kriterion, 2002, Romania
Contribuţiuni la istoricul ţiganilor din România, George Potra, Ed. Mihai Dascal Editor, Bucarest, 2002, Romania
Culegere de texte în limba rRomani, Gheorghe Sarău, National Ministry of Education, Ed. Didactică şi Pedagogică, 2000, Romania
Curs de limba rromaní, Gheorghe Sarău, Ed. Dacia, Cluj-Napoca, 2000, Romania
Aritmetică / Aritmčtika, Ionel Ion and Mariana Costin-Ion, Ed. Pro Europe, 1997, Romania
Aritmetică / Aritmčtika / Szamtan, Ionel Ion and Mariana Costin, Ed. Fundaţia “Phoenix”, 1999, Romania
E Siklŏvnesqo Lilorro, Olga Mărcuş and Leontina Boitoş, edited in the context of the projet Phare, Ed. “Mureş”, 2002, Romania
Vakărimata – pustik vaś I jekhto klŕsa -, the Ministry of Education and Research, Ed. Didactică şi pedagogică, Bucarest, 2002, Romania
O gonorro duje lovença / Punguţa cu doi bani, Ed. Kriterion, Bucarest, 2002, Romania
I rRomani ćhib, Mihaela Zătreanu, Ed. Veritas, Bucarest, 2002, Romania
AJKUK, Farid Aďt Siameur, publication in the context of the programmes Comenius, four languages : Romanian, Romani, bulgarian and hungarian, Ed. Peuple et Culture
Vocabular trilingv român-maghiar-rrom (trilingual vocabulary in Romanian, Hungarian and Romani), in collaboration the UNICEF, the Ministry of Education and Research and Romani Criss, Ed. Vanemonde, Romania
Manual de alfabetizare în limba rRomani pentru copii, tineri şi adulţi / Alfabetizaciaqo lil anθ-I rRomani ćhib vaś e ćhave, terne thaj

baremanuśa, Gheorghe Sarău and Camelia Stănescu, Ed. Vanemonde, 2002, Romania

Slovakia

Edukácia rómskych detí v európskom kontexte, edited in the context of Comenius, 2002, Slovakia
Romaňi Čhib, učebnica Rómćiny (severocentrálny dialekt), Slovak edition Bohemia Kontakt, Košice, 2002, Slovakia
Romaňi Čhib Kl’úč k učebnici rómčiny (severocentrálny dialekt), ), Slovak edition Bohemia Kontakt, Košice, 2002, Slovakia
E Slovakia andre Europa, Juraj Alner, Ed. Amari Europa, Rajipnaskro ofisos Slovakiakra republikakro, Bratislava, 2003, Slovakia
Uzdelávanie Rómov, Daniela Valachová, Zuzana Kadlečiková, Anna Butašová, Miron Zelina, Slovenské Pedagogické Nakladateľstvo, Bratislava, 2002, Slovakia (Roma culture and education)
Miri jekhto BIBLIJA andro obrazki, Kenneth N.Taylor, International Bible Society, Bratislava, 1994, Slovakia (My first Bible in pictures, Slovak-Romany)
Ľudia z Rodiny Rómov / Manuša andar e Familia Roma, Ján Cangár, Ed. INTERFACE, Nové Zámky, 2002, Slovakia
Phurikane giľa, Jana Belišová, Bratislava, Slovakia
Deloreskere Čhave, Božie Deti, Ed. Vydavateľstvo Don Bosco, 1995, Slovakia

Finland

Suomi – Romani – Sanakirja / Finitiko – romano Laavesko liin, Viljo Koivisto, Ed. Helsinki, 2001, Finland
Sar Me Sikjavaa Romanes, Henry Hedman, Ed. Opetushallitus, Helsinki, 1996, Finland
DROM – Romanien tie, Leena Laulajainen and Malla Pirttilahti, Ed. Opetushallitus, Helsinki, 2000, Finland
Drabibosko liin, Viljo Koivisto, Kotimaisten Kielten Tutkimuskeskus, Ed. Opetushallitus, Helsinki, 2002, Finland
Romani Tšimbako Buttiako Lin, Miranda Vuolasranta, Armas Hagert, Päivi Majaniemi, Henna Huttu, Ed. Opetushallitus, 2003, Finland
Publication of regular information bulletin (Latso Diives) in Finnish.

Bulgaria

O Rom Dzhanel o Drom, Lilyana Kovacheva, Ed. Fondacija “Romani Bah”, Bulgaria
Andral / Inside, bimonthly culture magazine, N° 25-26, Sofia, 2003, Bulgaria
Andral / Inside, bimonthly culture magazine, N° 22-23, Sofia, 2003, Bulgaria
O romano drom, bilingual Romani and bulgarian book, ……

Croatia

Zub Zubić Dand Dandoro, Ed. Kulturako Romano Centro Ande Kroacija, Zagreb, 1995, Croatia
Romani Angluni Alfabeta, Prva Romska Početnica, Ed. Unija Roma Hrvatske, Zagreb, 2000, Croatia

Sweden

Pay źuvindó Romané sityarimáta hay divánóri, Mikael Demetri and Angelina Dimiter-Taikon, Liber Distribution Publikationstjänst, Stockholm, 2002, Sweden
E’PIPPI lungo strinfa, Astrid Lindgren, Ed. Podium, Stockholm, 2003, Sweden
Utan hus utan grav, Romska sĺnger och dikter, Gunilla Lungren, Sweden
O Aljoša o šiav le birevosko, Gunilla Lundgren, Aljoša Nils-Erik Dimiter Taikon, Ed. Podium, 2003, Sweden
So Ame Kerdam, Monica Caldaras, Ivan Nikolizsson, Erland Kaldaras Nikolizsson, Ed. Skolverket, 2000, Sweden
O Tariq o Birevo la Plajako, Katar e Gunilla Lundgren, Ed. Podium, 1999, Sweden

Lithuania

Lietuvos Čigonai, Sudaré Vytautas Toleikis, Ed. Garnelis, Vilnius, 2001, Lithuania
Švietimo Kaitos Fondas, Veiklos Ataskaita, Ed. Kronta, 2003, Lithuania

England

The Romano DROM, song book with texts and music by Denise Stanley, assisted by Thomas Acton, Donald Kenrick and Bernard Hurley, 1st Ed. Oxford 1971, 2nd Ed. London, 1986, England
Bibahtale Breşa, Historia e Romengi ani Evropa, Grattan Puxon and Donald Kenrick, Romanestan Publication, London 1988, England

Slovenia

Romane Alava Zbirka Romskin Besed, Jožek Horvat-Muc, Ed. Murska Sobota, 2002, Slovenia

Appendix 4

Developments in the field of Roma/Gypsies children education questions in Europe

Background (documentation)
Developing a European approach with the Roma/Gypsies became a common topic during the eighties and early nineties, when a new kind of general awareness of the position of European Roma started to gain a foothold in Europe. The Council of Europe has organised numerous activities involving Roma since the beginning of eighties. The first teacher training seminar held in 1983 by the Council of Europe on school attendance programmes for Roma/Gypsy children have been exemplary in a number of fields, especially that of intercultural education.

Among the first actions were also, The European Union Council and the Ministers of Education, Resolution of School provision for gypsy and traveller children in a meeting held on 22 May 1989, which high-lighted the disadvantaged and extremely marginalised position of Roma in European societies and recalled positive measure to be taken in the field of Roma children’s education for the first time in an international context.
Recommendation 1203 (1993) recommended setting up, under the auspices of the Council of Europe, an "observatory for dispersed ethnic minorities" with a mandate to combat any kind of discrimination of Roma/Gypsies, condemn accordingly all forms of Gypsophobia or similar ethnic aversion. Promote their equal access to all forms of social rights and inter alia, to promote the survival and further development of their cultural heritage; preserve, publish and circulate their language; encourage a wide and manifold use of these languages in modern life; and promote an efficient legislation to protect minority cultures against discrimination or annihilation.
The establishment of Roma/Gypsies Division within the conjunction of Directorate III of Social Cohesion, gave a platform to a more systematic follow-up of Roma related matters in European perspective and possibility to promote the development policies aimed at Roma social and cultural integration. To intensify this work the CoE set up a government nominated, Group of Specialists on Roma/Gypsies (MG-S-ROM)5, which drew up a memorandum entitled Roma Children Education Policy Paper: Strategic Elements of Education Policy for Roma Children in Europe (97/11).

This memorandum functioned as a background document to the preparation of a general recommendation in the field of Roma children’s' education. The Committee of Ministers accepted the Recommendation (2000)4 on the education of Roma/Gypsy children in Europe, on 3 February 2000. This recommendation addresses issues such as segregation, curricula, teacher training and participation of Roma parents (Appendix 3).

In it, the Committee of Ministers Recommendation (2000) 4 recognises that:

“there is an urgent need to build new foundations for future educational strategies toward the Roma/Gypsy people in Europe, particularly in view of the high rates of illiteracy or semi-literacy among them, their high drop-out rate, the low percentage of students completing primary education and persistence of features such as low school attendance; and

The Ministers considered that, the disadvantaged position of Roma/Gypsies in European societies cannot be overcome unless equality of opportunity in the field of education is guaranteed for Roma/Gypsy children and that the education of Roma/Gypsy children should be a priority in national policies in favour of Roma /Gypsies; and

It should be born in mind, that policies aimed at addressing the problems faced by Roma/Gypsy children in the field of education should be comprehensive, based on acknowledgement that the issue of schooling for Roma/Gypsy children is linked with a wide range of other factors and pre-conditions, namely the economic, social and cultural aspects, and the fight against racism and discrimination.

chapter II:

“Educational policies in favour of Roma/Gypsy children should be implemented in the framework of broader intercultural policies, taking into account the particular features of the Romani culture and the disadvantaged position of many Roma/Gypsies in the member states”.
The curriculum, on the whole, and the teaching material should therefore be designed so as to take into account the cultural identity of Roma/Gypsy children. Romani history and culture should be introduced in the teaching material in order to reflect the cultural identity of Roma/Gypsy children. The participation of representatives of the Roma/Gypsy community should be encouraged in the development of teaching material on the history, culture or language of the Roma/Gypsies.
In the countries where the Romani language is spoken, opportunities to learn in mother tongue should be offered at school to Roma/Gypsy children.

The following year the MG-S-ROM had finished the preparation of a Recommendation R(2001)17 of the Committee of Ministers, which is aims to improve the economic and employment situation of Roma/Gypsies and Travellers in Europe. This recommendation includes a section on training and education and another on information, research and assessment.
In the Recommendation 1557(2002) the Parliamentary Assembly of CoE proposed, among other things, the establishment of a European Roma study and training centre affiliated to the Youth Centre of the Council of Europe

The general texts which have been adopted and advocate the preservation of Romani language and culture are notably the following :
a) Recommendation 928 (1981) on the educational and cultural problems of minority languages and dialects in Europe,
b) Recommendation 1275 (1995) on the fight against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance,
c) Recommendation 1283 (1996) on history and the learning of history in Europe,
d) Recommendation 1333 (1997) on A Romanian (Appendix 4) language and culture. It is clear that the fate of the Romani culture and language necessitates similar treatment.

Council of Europe project: “The Education of Roma/Gypsy Children Europe”

The Directorate General IV of Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport (DG IV), th Council of Europe assigned a group of experts in 2001 to set up priorities and an action plan for the implementation of Committee of Ministers recommendation (2000)4 on the education of Roma/Gypsy children in Europe and other above mentioned documents.

Year 2002 a framework document laying down the strategies for this development project was presented to the Steering Committee of Education which initiated a meeting of setting up the project of – Education of Roma/Gypsy Children in Europe

Furthermore, the project – Education of Roma/Gypsies children in Europe - seeks to implement and recalls following basic texts in this field, adopted by the Committee of Ministers:
The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities;
ratified October 2003 in 35 CoE member states
The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages;
ratified October 2003 in 17 CoE member states
General policy recommendation N° 3 of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on combating racism and intolerance against Roma/Gypsies
OSCE´s Parliamentary Assembly adopted at its 11th annual session July 2002, Resolution on education for Roma, whose main thrusts and priorities converge with the Council of Europe project

In late 2003, Directorate General IV - Education made a directory document, elaborated by Ms. Aurora Ailincai - of all the Council of Europe reference texts, clear political standings and actions regarding education, which have been developed since 1983. It emphasizes the lessons that have been learned, most of which are still relevant, for its activities which have been genuinely pioneering and forward-looking. This directory has been put together as part of the "Education of Roma/Gypsy Children in Europe – project”, which is aims for efficient implementing of Recommendation (2000)4 of the Committee of Ministers in the CoE member States on the Education of Roma/Gypsy Children in Europe.

The document outlines:
in the first part, the official Council of Europe texts adopted by the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.
in the second part, the activities of Directorate General IV - Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport


1 Council of Europe Leaflet on the project Education of Roma/Gypsy Children in Europe, www.coe.int/T/E/Cultural_Co-operation/education/

2 Unofficial number; estimation made by Gypsies and Travellers International Evangelical Fellowship (GATIEF), founded year 1950 internationally functioning in 35 countries, including India.

3 Interface Collection is co-ordinated and developed by the Gypsy Research Centre at the Université

René Descartes in Paris

4 See presentation and resumé in Interface N:o 39 under: Teaching of Romani language in schools -

what material is available:

http://fc.hum.au.dk/~peter_bakker/00D44EE2-0075824E.-1/romedu- prefinal-november-20.pdf

5 The MG-S-ROM group is functioning in the conjuction of European Committee on Migration (CDMG)/ Directorate General III – Social Cohesion Migration and Roma/Gypsies Department