As for all children of any ethnic origin, Roma have considerably better chances of succeeding at school if they receive pre-school education (nursery school or kindergarten). It is particularly important for Roma children, who often have problems in adapting to school and do not speak the majority language. Failure to speak the majority language is frequently identified as one of the prime factors in failure at school for Roma; the learning of that language should therefore start at pre-school level and continue at primary school.
The Council of Europe has developed a preschool teaching kit, an education programme designed to prepare children for entry into school, (as many Roma, Sinti, Traveller children do not attend nursery school for different reasons). The teaching kit helps facilitate an intellectual, emotional and social development within Roma communities by building up an educational tool for children between the ages of 5 and 7. This educational aid helps children develop the basic skills needed to start primary school, learn how to study, educate parents about the necessity of knowledge, improve children's analytical and reasoning skills, and encourage their imagination. The teaching kit is available as a CD-Rom with fact sheets for the individual activities and a methodological handbook for the tutor and/or mediator.
In the autumn of 2007, UNESCO and the Council of Europe organised an Expert Meeting in Paris to explore the issues concerned with providing early childhood education for Roma and Traveller communities and their successful transition to primary education.
Meeting report "Towards quality education for Roma children: transition from early childhood to primary education", UNESCO and Council of Europe – DGIV/EDU/ROM(2007)5
The Expert Meeting provided an opportunity to take stock of the existing policies and programmes and to highlight inspiring practice. It identified key issues and laid the groundwork for developing a set of Guidelines for action by all the key players, including European Member State governments.