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SECTION B – EDUCATION AND YOUTH
INTRODUCTION: EDUCATION & YOUTH
1. LINGUISTIC & CULTURAL SUPPORT, 'DIVERSITY' FOUNDATION, BULGARIA
2. ROMANI ASSISTANTS IN SCHOOLS, CZECH REPUBLIC
3. EDUCATION SUPPORT PROJECT, TIMIŞOARA, ROMANIA
4. PROMOTING ROMANI LANGUAGE AND CULTURE, FINLAND
5. ROMA SCHOOLS: THE GANDHI SCHOOL, HUNGARY
6. ALTERNATIVE VOCATIONAL SCHOOL, SZOLNOK, HUNGARY
7. TRAVELLER EDUCATION SERVICES, UNITED KINGDOM
8. YOUTH EMPOWERMENT: ATHINGANOI PROJECT, CZECH REPUBLIC
In modern European society, education is the most important means in the longer term for minorities to secure social inclusion and access to rights and opportunities. Yet Roma, throughout Europe, continue to experience serious levels of educational disadvantage. Discrimination, segregation, biased assessments, lack of recognition of Romani language and culture, pressures to assimilate, irregular attendance, high drop-out rates, low qualifications - these are some of the features which continue to characterise the experience of Roma in the school systems of Europe. This situation has been extensively documented in reports by international bodies such as the Council of Europe and the OSCE, as well by researchers, NGOs and Roma activists working at national and local levels.
In its Policy Recommendation No.3, ECRI identifies education as one of the main areas in which action needs to be undertaken in order to combat racism and discrimination against Roma and to secure equality and justice for Romani communities. Relevant actions that are recommended include implementation of anti-discrimination legislation in relation to education, combating school segregation and ensuring equal access to education, incorporating Romani history and culture into school curricula, providing training for teachers, promoting dialogue with and participation by Roma, and ensuring that the needs of travelling groups are not overlooked. A key challenge is how to balance a focus on Roma-specific issues with integration of Roma into the mainstream education system.
In Western Europe, as Jean-Pierre Liégeois and others have documented, there is a long history of uneven and uncoordinated efforts to meet the needs of Gypsies and Travellers, many of whom maintain a travelling life-style. In Central/Eastern Europe, however, following the collapse of the communist system, the relation of Roma to the education system has changed dramatically. In place of the paternalistic, assimilationist approach and the state-managed employment system, Roma now need to develop marketable skills and self-help solutions in order to survive and succeed in the new 'open' society. There is therefore an urgent search for new educational methods and structures to enable Roma to participate effectively in this new environment while still maintaining their culture and ethnic identity.
The entries that follow present practical examples of types of action to help implement Policy Recommendation No.3 in the education field. The initial examples illustrate ways in which support may be provided to ensure Romani children can enter and participate effectively in the school system. Pre-school and in-school educational and linguistic support, the provision of 'Romani Assistants' to work alongside teachers, and external support for children with difficulties are covered. The fourth entry focuses on the teaching of Romani language and culture, while the fifth features the Gandhi School in Hungary as an example of a school designed specifically to meet the needs of Romani children. The sixth entry provides an example of a school which provides a 'second chance' for Roma who dropped out of school earlier and now wish to secure educational or training qualifications. The seventh entry (which like many others includes some brief additional examples) focuses specifically on how modern school systems designed for settled communities can also meet the needs of children from travelling families. The final entry illustrates initiatives aimed to further empower young Roma who have already proven themselves successful in the educational system.
This small number of examples cannot reflect adequately the full range of actions that need to be taken in the educational field. For example, a review of the use of psychological tests in assessing Romani children is being conducted by a team at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Also, the 'Tolerance Project' in the Czech Republic offers a valuable example of a programme designed for public education generally on Roma/minority issues. There is also a wide range of experience of educational initiatives in Western Europe (see references in publications by Liégeois and others at the end of this booklet).
In many countries of Europe, language and culture are major factors which influence the educational opportunities of Romani children in school, especially at the point of entry. Many Romani children are disadvantaged from the outset by not having the same level of competence as Gaje children in the national language that is the medium of communication in the school system. As well as encountering a 'language barrier', they may also be disadvantaged by the fact that Gaje culture in general is the dominant culture in the school system, influencing expectations of behaviour in many significant ways, and either ignoring Romani culture or viewing it as deviant.
Supporting bilingual competence, and minority cultural identity, are therefore essential actions that must be taken if Romani children are to have the chance of educational success in what are in fact multi-cultural situations. The Balkan Foundation for Cross-Cultural Education and Understanding "Diversity" is an NGO, based in Sofia, which presents an example of the kinds of targeted projects and initiatives that are required in this field.
Broadly speaking, the aims of the Foundation 'Diversity' are to strengthen the bilingual and multi-cultural capabilities of children, and to support teachers and schools working with children from minority ethnic communities. Although its mission and some of its initiatives address the broad field of multi-cultural education, most of its work is in practice focussed on meeting the needs of Romani children.
Achieving bilingual competence is seen as fundamental. The Foundation has developed experimental research and projects in schools to assist children from ethnic minorities to acquire the Bulgarian language, but to do so by also developing their mother tongue. Courses and seminars for teachers on bilingualism and teaching Bulgarian to Romani and other minority children are organised. The Foundation has produced a number of publications designed particularly to help teachers working with Roma children, exploring the background to language issues, and providing practical guidance and resource materials for teachers in Bulgarian schools. Various series of publications explore issues around bilingualism, give guidance to teachers on appropriate methodologies for language teaching, and provide text-books and work programmes for Romani children for learning both Bulgarian and Romani languages.
However, language cannot be divorced from culture generally and from identity. The Foundation also works to promote understanding of the Romani cultural background among teachers, through lectures, seminars and publications. Its publications in Romani language for children include collections of poems, stories and songs. Aimed at the age-range 3-10 years, these are developed within the project "Children's Fiction in Romani Language", and are distributed in schools and among Romani families. The Foundation has also organised Romani cultural festivals within the corrective boarding schools in Bulgaria as part of their educational programme. As well as the above, the Foundation 'Diversity' has been involved in training programmes for young Roma leaders, in providing education for Roma who have dropped out of school, in promoting literacy among Romani women, in various media projects and activities, and in international activities.
Dr Hristo Kyuchukov, Director
Balkan Foundation "Diversity"
145D Rakovsky St, floor 2, apt. 7
In the Czech Republic, as in many other Central/Eastern European countries, the majority of Romani children leave school without completing their basic education - and therefore without qualifications or skills. The reasons include low estimation in the Romani community of the value of formal education, limited Czech language ability of Romani children, negative stereotypes of Romani children among teachers, and a lack of recognition and understanding of Romani culture generally within schools.
The Czech government has introduced a range of initiatives designed to address this problem. They include the introduction of a 'zero grade' preliminary year's schooling for disadvantaged children, a special training programme for teachers, and the provision of Romani language textbooks in schools.
Another important initiative is the introduction of 'Romani Assistants' in schools. The principal function of Romani Assistants is to help teachers communicate with Romani pupils, and to encourage cooperation between schools and Romani parents.
Romani Assistants are particularly important in the 'zero grades', when Romani children enter an environment that is strange and unfamiliar. The Romani Assistant can help with language difficulties, and generally facilitate the adjustment of the Romani child to the school. The Romani Assistant does not do the job of the teacher, but rather operates as an adviser and assistant to the teacher. The Romani Assistant's role is also to get to know all the Romani children and their parents personally, so he or she can give them advice and support.
Romani Assistants are present in both 'special' and mainstream schools; and they operate not only at zero grades, throughout primary schools and even in secondary schools. The Czech government reported that by late 1999, 140 Romani Assistants had been appointed in schools.
While the appointment of Romani Assistants is basically the responsibility of the education authorities, NGOs can help in various ways. In the city of Brno, the Moravian Romany Association recruited and initially funded the appointment of Romani Assistants, and continues to cooperate with the city authorities and schools. Training courses for Romani Assistants have also been provided by NGOs, for example the New School Association in Prague.
Inter-Ministerial Commission for Roma Affairs
The Spanish government initiated a programme of using Gitano mediators to build bridges between schools and Gitano communities. In Andalucia, this programme was carried out in cooperation with the Federation of Roma Associations in Andalucia (FARA). The programme was successful in increasing the enrolment of Gitanos in school, but it became clear that their retention was dependent also on the efforts made by schools internally.
*** Contact: Sr. J. M. Flores Campos, Social Affairs & Labour Department, Autonomous Government of Andalucia, C/. Héroes de Toledo 54, 41071 Sevilla; Tel: +34-95-504.82.48 - Fax: -504.82.82
In 1997, an 'Association of Gypsy Women' was established in Timişoara, in western Romania, to provide educational support for Roma children, particularly those who had abandoned school. As a specifically women's association, it recognised that in the Romani community, "taking care of children is the role of women, so the woman has to take care of the children's education".
The Association was set up to meet the needs of children in the locality of Strand, which is inhabited by members of several different sub-groups of Roma. It has both cultural as well as educational aims. So, as well as setting up a centre where children can find educational support from qualified staff, it also aims to contribute to the development of Romani identity.
A particular concern has been to provide education for children left outside the formal system. Within Strand, there are families who migrated to western Europe: when they were repatriated, the children were not reintegrated into schools, and as teenagers remained illiterate. As a women's association, they have especially tried to support young girls who have not been allowed to go to school in accordance with Roma tradition. This has involved working also with the girls' parents.
The principal activities of the cultural and educational centre are as follows: providing assistance to school-age Roma children in the main school disciplines; school education for teenagers who have passed the main school age (14-18 year-olds); teaching of Romani language and culture; civic education, and medical and psychological counselling; and inter-cultural activities. As well as the regular day-time activities, a summer camp for children has been organised.
The Project Coordinator has provided a room in her own house in which the children's daily activities are undertaken. The project has received funding from the OSI since its beginning in 1997. However, like many enterprising local initiatives, unless it can obtain support from the local authorities its future will be in question.
Letitia Mark, Project Coordinator
'Association of Gypsy Women: For Our Children'
Dorobanti Str. 62, Timişoara, Romania
Förderverien Roma e.V., an NGO based in Frankfurt-am-Main, has cooperated with teachers and local education authorities in establishing a kindergarten for Roma children from Eastern Europe (especially Romania), with the name "Scharworalle" (in Romanes, "Hello Children"). The project, which is supported by the City's Department for Multi-Cultural Affairs (MKA), also undertakes preparation of children for school, participation by parents, leisure and sporting activities, and networking and mediation with schools and other agencies.
*** Contact: Siolistrasse 6, 60323 Frankfurt-am-Main; Tel: +49-69-44.01.23 - Fax: -15.05.79.52.
Or via Lorenzo Horvat at MKA, Walter-Kolb-Str. 9-11, D-60594 Frankfurt-am-Main; Tel: +49-69-212.30145 - Fax -37946.
The Roma Association in Izmail, in Odessa County, undertakes a variety of activities to help improve the conditions of the substantial Roma population of the area. These include opening the first Roma Sunday School in the Ukraine in 1997. The aim is to help children with educational and linguistic skills, to promote Romani culture, and to provide welfare and other kinds of support as needed. At present many Roma children are assigned to 'special schools', and the Sunday School attempts to compensate for their disadvantage and to increase their motivation towards education. In 1999, a second Sunday School was opened in Oziornoye, which is linked to secondary school level. The Association is currently seeking to expand its educational activities, especially in the field of teaching and producing materials on Roma language and literature.
*** Contact: 8 Tuchkova St., Izmail, Odessa obl., Ukraine 68600; Tel/fax; +38-48-41.349.82
The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities requires that knowledge about the language and culture of minorities should be preserved, and that all members of a national minority have the right to learn the language of that minority. Generally speaking, across Europe, the steps taken by governments to implement the Convention with regard to Romani communities have been very limited.
In Finland, a Romani Education Unit has been established within the National Board of Education since 1994. The role of the Romani Education Unit is to develop and implement national-level policy for the education of the Romani population, and to promote Romani language and culture. The Unit is an operationally independent body, which is financed directly by a government grant earmarked for Romani education. It has its own management group which includes representatives of the Roma, and which has the responsibility to develop in a concrete manner educational issues affecting Roma and to approve the programme of work of the Unit.
The Romani Education Unit has a wide-ranging programme of activities. These include seminars, courses and conferences which are offered to both the Romani and the majority population. The Unit has developed the national Romani curriculum for both comprehensive and upper secondary schools, and also the vocational qualification 'Diploma in Romani Cultural Instruction'. It trains 'contact persons' to work in schools, and publishes teaching materials and an information bulletin. The teaching materials include a Romani language textbook for use in comprehensive schools, guidance for teachers on Romani students in school, a video presenting the home background and culture of Romani pupils, and booklets and tapes presenting songs and stories about Romani culture in the Romani language.
In Finland, as in many other countries, the responsibility for the provision of education is largely devolved to the level of the municipality. This presents a challenge for the implementation of national-level policy. For example, although the Government supports the teaching of the Romani language in schools, only a small number of municipalities actually provide such instruction. The reasons include the wide dispersal of the Romani population, as well as the lack of resources, teachers, and specialist training provision. The Romani Education Unit is currently developing measures to address these obstacles.
Many valuable initiatives, however, have been introduced at the local level and in individual schools. For example, many Romani children get transferred to 'special schools', not necessarily in the earliest years, but around the time of moving to secondary education. In the town of Pori, transfer to special schools has been replaced by provision of personal support to Romani pupils accompanied by personal teaching plans. In Mikkola Comprehensive School in Vantaa, Romani children are integrated into regular school classes from the start, but also receive special instruction in the Romani language. This gives them the opportunity to work in their own group, and to build a positive sense of Romani culture and identity, alongside that of the majority population. The school has three teachers of Romani language, who also act as mediators between school and home, and between Romani and majority cultures generally.
Romani Education Unit
POB 380, 00531 Helsinki
In Latvia, which has a relatively small Romani population, the government provides financial support to the Cultural Association of Latvian Gypsies in Riga (founded in 1991) and also to similar provincial associations. Romani language materials are produced (poetry, dictionary, ABC book), and cultural events organised, and the government finances classes for the teaching of Romani history and culture in some schools.
*** Contact: A.Deglava d.104 kv.33, LV-1001 Riga
The Gandhi Secondary Grammar School in Pécs, Hungary, was established in 1994 by a group of Roma intellectuals, in order to provide a secondary education for Roma students with the potential to proceed to study at university level. It was the first such secondary school to be established in Central/Eastern Europe, and is operated by the Gandhi Public Foundation. It constitutes one of a number of examples of separate educational establishments designed wholly or primarily for Roma students - an approach which has attracted strong interest but also proven controversial.
The School accepts approximately 50 students a year, selected from among the brightest Roma pupils in primary schools in the Transdanubia region. They follow a standard secondary school curriculum, but in addition learn about Romani history, language and culture. The aim is to equip students to function effectively in the wider Hungarian society, while also providing them with a positive sense of Roma identity. The School provides the certificate of the final secondary-level examination, and helps its graduates to continue into further and higher education.
The School aims to counter the negative stereotypes and low expectations of Roma that are widespread in the broader education system. It seeks to enable Roma youngsters to achieve their educational potential free from the negative pressures of the outside world. Most students reside at the attached Hostel during the term, so that the school functions as a supportive community for its individual members. The School also attempts to maintain links with parents and families, and to win their support for their children's continuing education.
The students attending the school are not exclusively Roma. There are also a small number of non-Roma pupils, as well as students of mixed parentage. Although the majority of teachers are non-Roma, some are Roma - including the original Principal of the School. This provision of role-models and of connection to the wider Roma community is important. Whether or not they proceed to university, the educational and social benefits for Roma children have already been shown to be very substantial.
In addition to receiving funding from the national education budget, the School has been supported by the Soros Foundation, as well as by the local municipality and Roma Self-Government.
The Gandhi School, like other Roma-focused educational establishments, has clearly shown that it is possible to design schooling that is more closely geared to the needs and background of Roma students. There are important lessons here that can be incorporated into the mainstream educational system. Whether segregated school structures are desirable in the longer term is a more controversial issue. Monitoring of student performance indicates improved outcomes for Roma children by comparison with mainstream schools, but does not suggest that Roma schools alone can overcome the effects of background social disadvantage. However, due to the recent foundation of such schools and the limitations of existing monitoring data, it is not yet possible to draw reliable conclusions on this matter.
Gandhi Secondary School
The Romska Stredni Skola Socialni (Romany Social High School) in Kolin, which opened in 1998, is a similar initiative aimed at providing secondary-level education for Roma. It is aimed at slightly older students seeking a 'second chance', and with a subsequent interest in direct employment rather than university study. Although officially it is open to anyone interested in Romany studies, in practice all its students are Roma.
*** Contact: J.S. Machara 1376, Kolin 5; Tel: +420-321-724.661.
The Martineum Collegium at Mánfa, near Pécs, is not itself a school, but a hostel for talented Roma students from disadvantaged backgrounds who attend public secondary schools in the locality, and have the potential to continue their education in colleges or universities. It was founded in 1996, and provides students with living accommodation and social support, and also Roma culture and language programmes.
*** Contact: Fábián Béla u. 87, 7304 Mánfa, Hungary; Tel: +36-6-72.483.904.
The Premysl Pitter School in Ostrava is an elementary-level school which was established to provide an alternative to the 'special schools' in which Roma children predominate. It is run by the Catholic organisation Caritas, and aims to provide young Roma children with the proper pedagogical support that will enable them to succeed within the Czech educational system. It offers pre-school preparation, language support, close links with families, and the services of a social worker and of Roma assistants working alongside teaching staff.
*** Contact: Jungmannova 3, 702 51 Moravska Ostrava; Tel/fax; +420-69-613.34.26.
The 'Roma Chance' Alternative Vocational Foundation School in Szolnok, Hungary, is a Roma initiative which provides the opportunity for those who have dropped out of school but are still of school age to return and continue their education. Szolnok is a municipality in the east of Hungary of around 80,000 inhabitants, of whom approximately 5% are Roma.
The School was founded at the end of 1996, when a group of specialists came together in association with the National Roma Federation 'Lungo Drom' (the national Roma governmental body) to formulate a concept to meet the needs of young people who had ceased to attend school. The town of Szolnok already had strong Roma community associations and leadership, which were carried through into the new Roma Self-Government structures. This leadership has enabled the pioneering concept to be transformed into reality.
The School provides vocational training and remedial education for disadvantaged Roma and non-Roma students aged between 14 and 22 years. It has around 240 daytime students, and 160 evening students. The aim of the School is to provide basic instruction to compensate for their missing schooling, and also to provide practical training in craft and technical skills for members of this age group which will improve their opportunities for finding work.
In 1999 the School acquired a new building for classes, and is converting the old school into a hostel. The new building has been renovated with the help of students and teachers, and has been equipped with modern facilities, including IT equipment. In addition to funds from the national education budget, the School also receives funding from the municipality, the Roma Self-Government, the Foundation for Hungarian Roma, and other national and international programmes.
The Lungo Drom Training Centre operates a variety of other educational and training programmes in addition to the Vocational School for young people. It also initiated the magazine 'Lungo Drom' which has a substantial national circulation, and publishes other books and materials for use by the Roma community in Hungary.
'Roma Chance' Vocational School
The 'Kalyi Jag' Roma School for Vocational Training in Budapest (Sixth District), is another example of a school in Hungary which provides educational support for Roma who are not enrolled in public secondary schools or who are above the age limit for secondary education. It has approximately 60 students, all Roma, who attend a two-year vocational training course, including computer skills.
*** Contact: Almassy u. 3, 1077 Budapest; Tel: +36-1-351.6522
Stichting Sinti Werk is a project based in Best, near Eindhoven, which provides support for Sinti children and older young people who have dropped out of school. It provides teaching of basic educational skills for children of secondary school age, and also a 'second chance' programme for those who are over 16, to help prepare them for entry into employment. There is also a flourishing music programme. The project is liked to the Landelijke Sinti Organisatie (National Sinti Organisation), and receives its funding from local government bodies.
*** Contact: Sportlaan 10, 5683 CS Best; Tel: +31-499-371.212 - Fax; -372.915
Within the framework of its national strategy for integration of Roma, the government is supporting several projects providing education and vocational training for young Roma to equip them with skills to enter the labour market. A project in the Liptovsky Mikulas district focusses on craft skills for jobs such as cook, waiter and carpenter, while a larger-scale project in the Rimavska Sobota district is providing more general skills in cooperation with the National Labour Office.
*** Contact: Slovak Republic Government Office, Námestie Slobody 1, 813 70 Bratislava; Tel: +421-7-5729.5311 - Fax; -5729.5424
In the UK, as in several other Western European countries, many Gypsies and Travellers continue to move frequently from place to place. This presents a challenge for local education authorities, who have a responsibility to ensure that children of all backgrounds receive equal opportunities for education. Many Gypsy/Traveller families may not value formal education to the same extent as the Gaje community, and the lack of adequate site provision together with the discrimination faced by Gypsies and Travellers, all result in children from travelling families being especially vulnerable to educational disadvantage.
There are now several decades of experience on the part of teachers, educationalists and Gypsy activists in addressing these issues. Although the problem persists, and the response of schools and local government is uneven nationally, there are also many valuable initiatives and examples of good practice. Many of these have been highlighted by the reports of the national HM Inspectorate of Schools.
For example, in SE England, Essex County Council's Traveller Education Service has developed a comprehensive approach to providing support to schools, families and other agencies to ensure full access to education for Traveller children. It has a team of teachers, support assistants and Traveller Education Welfare Officers who work in Essex and Southend, providing support services and undertaking development projects. Priority is given to the needs of children from families that are highly mobile or travel seasonally, and also to individual children when transferring between or settling into new schools.
The main activities undertaken include: advice and training for teachers and other professionals; curriculum development and support materials for schools; support with planning and provision of distance learning to allow continuing education whilst travelling; support for families in accessing education; and direct support for pupils with fragmented education and with social and welfare needs. Education packs have been produced for schools and families to provide information relating to both primary and secondary education.
So far as children of travelling families are concerned, a major aim is to ensure they can move from school to school with a minimum of disruption to their education. To assist with this process, record cards are used to help transfer information about children's progress between schools. These are completed by the schools, but held by the family, and passed on to the next school following each move.
The Traveller Education Service in Gloucestershire (SW England) offers a similar example of good practice. It particularly priorities the needs of 'roadside Travellers', i.e. highly mobile families who camp on unauthorised sites because of the shortage of official stopping places. It has produced a comprehensive policy document, which includes detailed information and guidance for schools. It seeks to implement this policy across schools by a 'top-down' approach, e.g. working with heads of schools, setting standards and monitoring outcomes, and evaluating overall effectiveness. The aim is to ensure that schools take responsibility for the education of Traveller children, rather than relying on specialist support services.
Essex Traveller Education Service
Gloucestershire Traveller Education Service
Based in Strasbourg, ARPOMT ('Association pour une Recherche Pedagogique Ouverte en Milieu Tzigane') is an example of a local civic association that provides educational support for children of Travelling families ('Gens du voyage' of various ethnic groupings) in the Alsace region. Teaching is provided from a special caravan which travels between local sites, and children follow correspondence courses produced by the Centre National pour l'Etude ŕ Distance (CNED). ARPOMT, which has a staff of 6, also organises sports activities and basic literacy classes for both children and adults, and provides a 'poste restante' service for local, national and international Travellers.
*** Contact: 1 rue de l'Ancienne Ecole, F-67100 Strasbourg; Tel: +33-388-44.44.37 - Fax: -84.46.76)
The Scottish Gypsy/Traveller Association works closely with the Save the Children Fund to promote the interests of travelling families in their relationships with the public authorities. In the field of education, they deal with a wide range of issues including educational support for mobile children, transport to school from sites, and attention to the needs of children when families are forced to move on.
*** Contact: SGTA, 13 Guthrie Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JG, Tel: +44-131-650.6314; SCF, 8 Clifton Terrace, Edinburgh EH12 5DR, Tel: +44-131-527.8200
The 'Visiting Teacher Service' is available to schools in all areas of Ireland. Each visiting teacher operates on a county basis and has responsibility for the pupils, primary and post-primary of Traveller families in each area. This scheme was strongly endorsed by the Task Force on the Travelling Community, and is the responsibility of the Department of Education and Science.
*** Contact: Equal Status Division, Department of Justice, 43-49 Mespil Road, Dublin 4; Tel: +353-1-663.2615
Participation in a transnational European Union project on inclusion programmes for Roma has provided a coalition of government and NGO partners with the opportunity to assess current educational provision and practice for Gypsies and Travellers in Belgium. Interviews have been undertaken with individuals working in this field, and a review of policies on education and on social inclusion generally has been undertaken. The nature and extent of the challenge faced in Belgium is being analysed by the project, and although some examples of good practice have been identified, it is evident (and especially the view of NGOs) that a more integrated and strategic approach is required, involving a wide range of agencies and the NGOs and community associations.
*** Contact: Vlaams Minderheden-centrum, Gaucherstraat 164, 1030 Brussel; Tel +32-2-203.08.73 - Fax: -201.68.63
The idea of young Roma people as 'youth' is a new concept within the Roma community, and its implications are still being explored and debated. However, it is clear that fostering the potential of young Roma leaders is one of the most important tasks for long-term community development. This has been recognised by the Council of Europe Youth Centre, which has been running a programme of training courses for young Roma leaders since 1995.
Out of this programme has emerged the Forum of European Roma Young People (FERYP), the first of several Europe-wide Roma/Gypsy youth networks. The Youth Centre and FERYP have worked together to provide support for young Roma leaders to establish projects and NGOs at national and local level in a wide range of countries. Membership of FERYP consists of both individuals and associations. Special attention has been paid to supporting young Roma women as leaders. FERYP now organises regular meetings and training activities, aimed at enabling and empowering young Roma to work more effectively in their organisations.
A separate example of the new Roma youth projects is O.S. ATHINGANOI, a recently formed civic association in the Czech Republic. It brings together high-school and university-educated young Romany people from across the country who, on the basis of their future work in the Romany community, will become elements of a Romany elite in the Czech Republic.
In early 1999 it established a "Romany Students' Meeting" Project, with funding support from the OSI. This project provides for quarterly meetings in which some 30 participants take part in professional seminars under the guidance of experienced Romany leaders and other experts. Three of the meetings are of four days duration, while the fourth consists of a two-week 'summer school'. The summer school allows in-depth attention to a particular theme (e.g. mass media), and focuses also on communication skills, mutual support structures, and Romany language. The Meetings have received a very positive evaluation from the participants. Many members of O.S. ATHINGANOI were active in the 'Tolerance Ride', which visited schools around the country as part of the Czech Government's 'Tolerance Project', designed to promote public awareness of Roma and minority issues.
O.S. ATHINGANOI has now established a Romany Students Information Centre in Prague. This will collect information on further education and Roma-related employment opportunities for Romany students, organise meetings and events, and act as a resource centre generally on Roma-related matters for use not only by Roma but also members of the majority society.
Project Coordinator, O.S. ATHINGANOI
Minority Rights Group International implemented two programmes, INTRINSIC and PASSPORT, designed to support the development of young Roma leaders in Central/ Eastern Europe. Both programmes used 'mentoring' as an approach, and a working group of Roma was formed to produce a Mentoring Advice Pack. MRG worked with partner Roma NGOs in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, each of which identified specific local needs and methodologies.
*** Contact: 379 Brixton Road, London SW9 7DE; Tel: +44-20-7978.9498 - Fax: -7738.6265. Or Budapest Office: Szilagyi Erzebet Fasor 22/c, 1125 Budapest; Tel: +36-1-391.5730 - Fax: -391.5745
The PAKIV European Roma Fund is a newly established transnational NGO which aims to facilitate the creation of new civil society programmes in Central & Eastern Europe that support income-generating activities of local Romani civic associations. Its initial actions will focus on providing intensive, global training for young Roma in order to create a cadre of leaders who can manage the types of progammes envisaged. The training will be carried out in three 'blocks' based in Britain, Denmark and Hungary, after which participants return to their countries to undertake needs analyses and develop proposals. The training is funded by the World Bank and the Ford Foundation.
*** Contact: Pozsonyi út.14, 1137 Budapest; Tel: +36-1-237.60.27 - Fax: -237.60.29; E-mail : email@example.com
The Alliance for Roma Unity has developed a project entitled "Stimulating the employment of Rroma public servants by local public administrations and public services". The project is aimed at young Roma students or high school graduates and provides them with training in the skills required to pursue careers as professional public servants. The project has been designed in partnership with local public administrations, and receives funding from the Open Society Foundation in Romania.
*** Contact: Silvestru Str. 27, Bucharest 2; Tel/fax: +40-1-211.42.35