Roma access to mainstream education

ERGO NETWORK ANNUAL PUBLIC EVENT: Roma Access to Mainstream Education

This past 19 November, ERGO Network organised its annual public event, dedicated this year to debating how to ensure that Roma pupils and students can access mainstream education on equal footing and how to make education systems and establishments more inclusive, by combating segregation and discrimination in education settings. The event was co-organised with the generous support and participation of Hon. Romeo Franz MEP (Greens/EFA, Germany) and Hon. Peter Pollák MEP (EPP, Slovakia), and hosted at the premises of the Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the European Union.

The event was very well attended with over 80 participants, and it brought together ERGO members from the grassroots level in 14 European countries, European civil society organisations and other Brussels-level stakeholders, as well as EU policy-makers from across the institutional spectrum, including the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of Europe, and the Government of Croatia, who will hold the upcoming Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Education is an increasingly important topic in the European public and political discourse, as an explicit objective of the Europe 2020 Strategy, the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies. The latest communication issued by the European Commission on the Evaluation of the EU Roma Integration Strategies 2019, and its previous evaluations, clearly underline the need to prioritise education and training in policy initiatives. Several countries (BG, HU, RO, SK) received a Country-Specific Recommendation in 2019 regarding improving Roma access to quality education, as well as better integrating them into mainstream education.

However, this positive rhetoric still lacks the desired implementation, and the Roma are still too often left behind when it comes to accessing educational opportunities on equal footing with majority groups, due to structural antigypsyism and its manifestations in education, such as segregation. Existing legal and policy tools, including targeted actions on Roma education, as well as infringement procedures, are not as effective as they could be in challenging ingrained patterns of Roma exclusion and discrimination. From early childhood education and care to second-chance schools and informal education and to training and upskilling for the labour market, every person deserves the right to improve their competences and pursue their personal development.

The event included thought-provoking interventions which fostered a debate aimed at identifying positive solutions and policy proposals based on best practices, in order feed into the post-2020 policy and funding European frameworks relevant for Roma inclusion.

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For more information about this event, or about ERGO Network’s work on inclusive education, please contact Senior Policy Adviser Amana Ferro.

 

This conference was kindly supported by a grant from the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.

 

ERGO Network receives financial support from the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation EaSI (2014-2020). For further information please consult: http://ec.europa.eu/social/easi

Most Roma Friendly Mayor awards 2019

PRESS RELEASE

Brussels, 22/11/2019

Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network Award the Most Roma Friendly Mayors in the European Parliament on November 19, 2019

Roma Active Albania and the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network organized an award ceremony in the European Parliament to acknowledge positive examples of local authorities – efforts of seven Mayors from the Western Balkans and Turkey to improve the lives of Roma in their municipalities.

The competition “The Most Roma Friendly Mayor” is part of the project Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey. This project aims at mobilising Roma communities and strengthening their existing capacities to engage in a dialogue with public authorities.

The seven winning mayors, selected from 47 competing municipalities, were welcomed by the Member of the European Parliament and the Chair of Delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo Romeo Franz, Co-Chair of ERGO Network and Former Member of the European Parliament Soraya Post, the Coordinator of the Roma Policy of the European Commission Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG Near) Marta Garcia Fidalgo and the Director of Roma Active Albania and General Manager of the project Adriatik Hasantari. The winning mayors were symbolically awarded with statues, the creation of  prominent artist  Sead Kazanxhiu from Albania. The Director of ERGO Network Gabriela Hrabanova moderated the event.

Ms Hrabanova highlighted the importance of partnership between local authorities and Roma civil society organizations. “The local level is the most important to achieve real societal change and improve the quality of lives of Romani people”, she emphasized. Mr Franz asserted that “the positive role models that we are awarding this evening represent another proof that only together Roma and non-Roma can succeed”. “It is a proof that change is possible when you treat your citizens, regardless of their ethnicity, as equals”, he pointed out. Ms Post urged the mayors to spread their good practice while expressing how proud she was of their commitments: “We are proud of the awarded mayors; they are real human rights fighters. It is very clear that if mayors take their duties seriously, it shows good results also for the Roma community as full members of the society”. Ms Garcia Fidalgo highlighted the ways of support by the DG Near. “The strength of a society is proven by the support to the members who need it the most”, she stated and acknowledged that the winning mayors and their civil society partners are key actors who are helping their countries on the path to the European Union. While explaining “the Most Roma Friendly Mayor” campaign to the audience, Mr Hasantari concluded with a strong message to the Mayors: “What has been done is acknowledged and appreciated. However, we need more commitment from you in the future and more good examples!”

The awards were given to the following seven mayors: Ms Majlinda Bufi, Municipality of Roskovec, Albania; Mr Aldin Šljivo, Municipality of Kakanj, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Mr Kurto Dudush, Municipality of Shuto Orizari, North Macedonia; Mr Imri Ahmeti, Municipality of Lipjan, Kosovo; Mr Petar Smolović, Municipality of Bijelo Polje, Montenegro; Mr Vladan Glišić, City of Belgrade, Serbia; Mr Abdül Batur, Municipality of Konak, Turkey.

Seven independent juries were established in the respective countries, assessing the applications. The juries pointed out the following achievements: progress in Roma participation in local authority structures; efforts in creating education-related opportunities; increasing employability of Roma and especially of Roma women; building infrastructure and housing units and many more.

In the participating countries, the project is implemented by ERGO Network members Zero Discrimination (Turkey), OTAHARIN (Bosnia&Herzegovina), RROMA (North Macedonia), Roma Active Albania, Mladi Romi (Montenegro), Roma Forum Serbia and Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (Kosovo).

Hosting MEP of the Most Roma Friendly Mayor Award Ceremony: Romeo Franz

Contact: Gabriela Hrabanova (g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.org, +32 2 893 10 49).

Disclaimer: This press release has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The content of the release is the sole responsibility of Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.