Project for the Educational Success of Roma Youth in Catalonia and for the Dissemination of the Roma People’s Culture.
Project location: SPAIN
Project start date: September 2023 - Project end date: July 2026
Project number: 2023-018
Beneficiary: Fundació Privada Pere Closa per a la Formació i la Promoció dels Gitanos a Catalunya
The problem of school absenteeism and educational failure has its origin in the lack of knowledge of the schools about Rroma identity and the mistrust of Rroma families regarding the school institution. The schools do not understand the Rroma cultural codes and the families do not understand the teaching dynamics either. The former believe that the Rroma youngsters do not want to study and have a vocation for being illiterate and the latter believe that the teachers want to acculturate their children and make them not Rroma. As a consequence, Rroma children and youths do not perceive the cultural values transmitted by schools and institutes as their own, which causes demotivation, absenteeism, conflict and failure. Added to these conflicting cultural codes is the affective-emotional breakdown, because Rroma students feel alone in the educational process: families do not support them and schools do not understand them.
On a positive level, aside from the increase in well-being indices and the decrease in discrimination, it is worth highlighting the strengthening of the collective consciousness of Rroma people and the progressive generation of the concept of Rroma youth, as well as the essential role of women.
When it comes to human rights, there are currently different attitudes towards difference in our world. On the one hand, the standardizing tendency of globalization tends to assimilate, in a hidden way, countercultural groups. On the other hand, they tend to attribute much of the blame for the crisis of the welfare system to them for making excessive use of public systems. Finally, they are perceived as groups that contribute practically nothing to the common good.
While no official data on ethnicity is available across the EU, EC (2019) estimates that there are between 10 and 12 million Rroma in Europe and approximately 6 million in the EU, making them the largest minority group in Europe. The main subgroups are Eastern Rroma (85%), Sinti (known as Manouches in France 4%), Kalés (10%) and Rroma/Travellers in the UK and Ireland (0.5%), as well as some smaller groups. Although historically nomadic, 80% of the Rroma in Europe are now settled.
According to the Eurobarometer (2019), the EC states that only 20% of the EU population have Rroma friends, 29% consider that they are discriminated against, 10% feel totally comfortable being with Rroma people and 10% thinks that the measures in education, health, housing and employment are totally inefficient.
ECRI (2017) considers that the New Right (Noua Dreaptǎ) movement deserves a mention due to its open use of the Iron Guard legacy by holding public events with anti-Rroma and anti-Semitic themes and its involvement in the systematic use of the hate speech against Hungarians, LGBT people and immigrants. According to ECRI (2017), civil society indicated that hate speech is prevalent in traditional and social media, mainly towards Rroma, LGBT people, the Hungarian minority, the Jewish community and Muslims. ECRI (2017) encourages authorities to take action to combat the use of sexist hate speech, paying particular attention to Rroma women.
According to the FRA-EU survey (2017), 52% of Rroma who were stopped by the police perceived this practice as ethnic profiling in Romania. ECRI (2017) recommends that authorities provide more training to police, prosecutors and judges on how to deal with racist and homophobic/transphobic acts of violence.
In a resolution adopted on October 5, 2022, MEPs demanded equal access to education, employment, healthcare and housing for Rroma people living in EU settlements. According to an opinion poll conducted by the NCCD in 2015, the fourth least accepted population group is the Rroma (after people affected by HIV, drug addicts and people with disabilities).
Second Chance and After School programs are suggested. However, despite these efforts, a FRA-EU MIDIS survey shows that the proportion of Rroma children of compulsory school age who attend school remains at 77%. The same data, however, shows that the rate of Rroma children enrolling in primary school (85%) is almost as high as that of the general population (89%). ECRI regrets to note that the enrolment rate drops significantly in secondary school and is only 34% (versus 87% in the general population). On the other hand, ECRI is pleased to note progress in the fight against early school leaving, thanks to the National Strategy for the reduction of early school leaving (2015-2020) and encourages the authorities to continue their efforts to respond to the problem of early school leaving of Rroma children, particularly in secondary school, more effectively.
In accordance with the European Parliament resolution of October 5th, 2022 on the situation of Rroma people living in settlements in the EU (2022/2662 RSP), MEPs demanded equal access to education, employment, health care and housing for Rroma people living in settlements in the EU. They asked the EU countries to include Rroma children in their national plans to fight against the social exclusion of children living at risk of poverty. EU countries must also work to eradicate segregation practices and carry out campaigns against discrimination in schools. The report encourages a strategy to take into account the diversity of the community and provide the Rroma community with equal participation in public policy. The Parliament said that Rroma people should have access to decent housing and urged the European Commission to establish an early warning mechanism to identify misuse of EU funds intended to address current problems. He also asked the Council to conclude negotiations on the fight against discrimination, blocked since 2008. MEPs also warned that between 10 and 20% of the approximately 400,000 Rroma living in Ukraine are stateless or at risk of being so and demanded the protection of Rroma refugees against illegal expulsions and discrimination when they request temporary protection.
For many Rroma people, exclusion and discrimination start at an early age. According to the 2019 Rroma Integration Strategies report, 68% of Rroma left school early. Furthermore, only 18% of Rroma boys and girls access higher levels of education and 63% of Rroma youth are not in education, work or training, compared to the EU average of 12%. Furthermore, only 43% of Rroma have any kind of paid employment. Many of the Rroma people live in marginal and very poor socioeconomic conditions and face discrimination, social exclusion and segregation. According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 80% continue to live below the poverty line. Nearly half of the Rroma and Traveller respondents (44%) experienced hate-motivated harassment in the 12 months prior to the survey. More recently, Rroma people have been blamed for spreading the coronavirus in Eastern European countries. The results also show that almost a quarter of the Rroma community do not have national health insurance. A third of Rroma households have no tap water, just over half have an indoor shower or flushing toilet and 78% of Rroma live in overcrowded households, while 43% of Rroma people experience discrimination when trying to buy or rent a home.
According to the FRA-EU (2014), Rroma women have to face double discrimination as Rroma and as women: 22% of Rroma women and 27% of Rroma men surveyed say they have felt discriminated against. In all surveyed Member States, fewer Rroma women (37%) than men (50%), aged 16-24, continue to study after the age of 16. More Rroma men (85%) than women (77%) say they can read and write and more Rroma women (19%) than men (14%) say they have never been to school. Only 6% of Rroma women, aged 16 to 17, who are married or living with a partner, study. On average, in the surveyed Member States, 21% of Rroma women have a paid job, compared to 35% of men. Rroma men report more frequently as self-employed (25%) or in ad hoc jobs (28%) than women (13% and 15%, respectively). When asked about their health insurance coverage, on average, 18% of the Rroma women surveyed say they are not covered, compared to 8% of non-Rroma women who live nearby. Also, intra-community discrimination of the Rroma gender can be affirmed, since women who suffer domestic violence face more difficulties due to poverty, social exclusion and the lack of social services in the areas where they live, despite the fact that the Rroma women report violence substantially less frequently than the general population, but continue to share the same home with them, according to UNDP or the European Union (2018).
Rroma communities in Europe often live on contaminated wastelands and lack running water or sanitation facilities in their homes as a result of environmental racism, according to the report “Pushed into the Wastelands: Environmental Racism Against Rroma Communities in Central and Eastern Europe”, of the European Environment Office (EEB), a pan-European network of environmental NGOs. The EEB, in collaboration with researchers from Central and Eastern Europe, found 32 cases of environmental racism in five European countries (Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and North Macedonia), involving more than 150,000 Roma. Lack of water, sanitation and garbage collection were problems in more than half of the case studies.
Regarding the promotion and preservation of Rroma culture and arts, according to the report of the Council of Europe (2015), the low prestige of the language, the shrinking territories, multilingualism and the pressure of assimilation by the majority culture make Romani a dominated language whose relationship with contact languages has always been asymmetrical and never bilateral. As a result, various phenomena of language contact and language change occur, ranging from lexical borrowing from the majority language to monolingualism in the majority language. On the other hand, there is social and institutional discrimination and prejudice towards Rroma communities throughout Europe. There is no equal education and, in most cases, the educational needs of Rroma children are ignored. This resulted and still results in a high degree of illiteracy among the Rroma people and, in many cases, also in a negative attitude towards education. Despite all this, the Rroma people have been able to preserve their language, culture and history and Romani remains one of the most vital minority languages in Europe. About 3.5 million people speak Romani. It is even an officially recognized minority language in 16 countries. Even so, UNESCO classifies the language as "definitely endangered". Very few boys and girls have the opportunity to learn in Rroma language classes at school, and 3.5 million does not seem like much when you realize that there are between 12 and 14 million Rroma in the world. The Romani Project of the University of Graz describes the language as “a mainly oral, functionally restricted, dominated and stateless diaspora language with non-monolingual speakers”. Basically, Romani is not the dominant language anywhere, it does not belong to a specific state or country, and most of its speakers also speak at least one other language. The Rroma people suffer a lot of discrimination and, by extension, their language as well.
The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation has awarded a grant for this project.
The project is aimed at Rroma boys, girls and young people, their families, the educational centres where they study and the entities and services in the towns of Badalona, Sant Adrià de Besòs, Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Lleida. The primary objective is to support Rroma students so that they can achieve educational success based on their incorporation and foster the normalisation of education. The work is based on educational triangulation: students, families and teachers. The project works with an annual average (school year) of about 150 students in both primary and compulsory secondary school, post-compulsory and higher education. The students of the project, of this aspect, are boys, girls and young people at risk of social exclusion and poverty and, therefore, need the support of economic resources to be able to carry out and finish their studies successfully. For this, the Peretti-Pere Closa Study Scholarships is aimed at 200 students of primary and compulsory secondary education, two educational stages that do not qualify for the general scholarship of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. These scholarships will be for an amount of 200 euros per student/course. A public act to award the Peretti-Pere Closa Study Scholarships will be organized.