As Roma were and still are marginalised in society, Roma history was and still is sidelined in mainstream history. It is known and proven since the eighteenth century that Romani, the language of the Roma, is a New-Indo-Aryan language and that its speakers are of Indian origin. However, public knowledge about the history and culture of this nation, which numerically is the largest minority in Europe, is still marginal or inexistent among ordinary people. On the other hand, national governments and international organisations are trying to overcome segregation, stigmatisation and marginalisation of the Roma and try to fully integrate Roma into society.
The Council of Europe produces a collection of pedagogical fact sheets on Roma history, culture and language. In its efforts to defeat segregation, stigmatisation and marginalisation of the Roma the Council of Europe tries to fully integrate them into society. An integral part of this educational process of integration is mutual knowledge of the common history of Roma and non-Roma in Europe. The fact sheets are intended to support this process of integration through education.
of the potential uses for training purposes (training institutes or open distance learning); the same documents can also be used by teachers as back-up for their educational work with their pupils. Again, the fact sheets can be used as educational files in other contexts, e.g. Roma cultural museums or exhibitions;
for individuals (teachers, mediators, inspectors, etc) who are directly concerned with the schooling of Roma children or who, although they do not work with Roma children, would like to acquire knowledge of this culture to transmit to other pupils;
possibility for integrating it into various training systems and levels: the fact sheets are reference documents that can be used in different training programmes rather than actual teaching units in themselves; they provide content for training courses designed from the intercultural angle and facilitate inclusion of historical, linguistic and cultural elements forming part of the European heritage;
the fact sheets would be combined in a folder, which would enable any country that so wished to add national and/or thematic sheets to supplement the collection. They did not form a final body of material but rather one that could and must be constantly added to and updated to take account of new research findings, educational needs and local circumstances. The whole system was an open one with a conventional tree structure (see the table of contents), based on a common core supporting and contextualising all the different knowledge items and thematic or geographic branches relating to particular countries on to which new sheets could be grafted, to expand particular themes or provide local illustrations that could be useful for schools.
Work is being done to enhance recognition and increase awareness of the Samudaripen (in Romani, this word means "(the) murder of all", collective murder) and refers to the genocide of the Roma
and Sinti during the Second World War, and the need to prevent similar future crimes against humanity. Remembrance, particularly remembrance of the events which occurred during the Second World War, remains a sensitive and painful issue for Roma. The project includes the production of teaching materials on Roma history and culture, the organisation of events and working meetings, and the setting-up of a website devoted to Roma remembrance. The website’s main function will be to provide instruction on the genocide of Roma. It will comprise a database on this period of Roma history, with a virtual library of the best-known and most useful publications, and an interactive map on which countries can indicate their special/distinctive features at national level. The website will also provide information on curricula, available teaching materials, school textbooks, places of remembrance, and innovative practices introduced by ministries, civil society, international organisations, museums and schools.
The Council of Europe is implementing this work in co-operation with the OSCE/ODIHR Contact Point for Roma and Sinti Issues.