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.

See more:

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

Annual Members Meeting 2019

Annual Members Meeting 2019

From 20-22 October 2019, ERGO Network’s members came together in Skopje, North Macedonia, to share updates from the past year, set future priorities and learn from each other.

On day 1, the participants attended working groups to define the future priorities of the organisation   on the topics of employment, data collection and governance of the network. The governance working group discussed for example the legal status of ERGO, the criteria for membership and rights and responsibilities of members and the board.

 

Day 2 started with an introduction to different working areas of ERGO Network: The ERGO team and some of the members explained our work on Community-Led Local Development (CLLD), the Most Roma friendly Mayor campaign, our work towards the Post 2020 EU Roma Strategy and support for national advocacy and mobilisation.

In the afternoon, participants had the opportunity to gain new skills for their work back home: Monika Mihaličková led the group through a process of creating fundraising campaigns for the projects of their organisations.  Another workshop focused on how to use graphic cues when facilitating meetings, held by Alejandro Gil Carasso.

Day 3 started with exchanging views on the priorities for advocating on the EU’s Post 2020 EU Roma Framework. The participants agreed that the most important topics that we should ask for are an increase of participation of Roma in all areas of designing and monitoring policies and continued EU support for the Western Balkans. National governments should commit to include support for Roma culture, language, history and actions to combat antigypsyism in the National Roma Integration Strategies.

In the afternoon, a group of participants had the opportunity to visit the Municipality Šuto Orizari (Šutka), where Roma are the majority with more than 13,000 inhabitants, and which is governed by a Roma mayor – Kurto Duduš.

Mr. Duduš took the time to meet the group and to explain important developments for the Romani population in the town. In his term, a new pre-school was built, the municipality invested in repairing main roads and the local high school doubled the number of its students. 25 of them were accepted to university this year! The municipality also has an outpatient clinic, where most inhabitants of Šuto Orizari and from nearby villages are treated.

The Annual Members Meeting 2019 closed with a party for all attending ERGO Network members.

We thank our member organization RROMA for welcoming us in Skopje and hosting us in these days!

ERGO conference on education, 19 November

Roma access to mainstream education: ERGO Network annual conference

Time: 19 November 2019, 10:00-12:30

Place: Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the European Union, Rue Belliard 60-62 (Brussels)

We kindly invite you to attend ERGO Network’s conference on Roma access to mainstream education.

Education is an increasingly important topic in the European public and political discourse, with objectives on education in the Europe 2020 Strategy, the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Sustainable Development Goals and the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies. However, the Roma are still too often left behind when it comes to accessing educational opportunities on equal footing with majority groups. 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.

The conference will be kindly hosted by the Members of the European Parliament Romeo Franz (Greens/EFA) and Peter Pollák (EPP). It will bring together ERGO Network members from the grassroots level, European civil society organisations and other Brussels stakeholders, and EU policy-makers across the institutional spectrum, to discuss how to achieve real policy change for Roma in the area of education.

Have a look at the agenda of the conference.

Please don’t forget to register for the conference by following this link.

Venue: Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the European Union, Rue Belliard 60-62 (Brussels)

For questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch: info@ergonetwork.org, +32 2 893 10 49.

This conference is 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

Roma inclusion through local partnerships

On 3 December 2018, ERGO Network concluded the first year of its 4-year work programme RIISE (Roma Included in Social Europe) with a panel debate discussing how Roma inclusion can be fostered through meaningful local partnerships.

Emphasising the importance of Roma participation in all stages of decision-making, from the local to the European level, is one of the founding principles of ERGO Network, and many of our activities focus on building trust and partnerships between Roma communities and institutions.

During the panel debate, the speakers highlighted several angles, good examples and pitfalls of partnerships on local level.

The event was opened by introductory remarks from Romeo Franz, Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA and Andor Urmos, Policy Analyst, Directorate General for Regional Policy, European Commission.

It was followed by a panel moderated by former ERGO Network director Ruus Dijksterhuis, who discussed with Dominique Be (DG Employment), Maaike Buyst (Eurocities), Dijana Pavlovic (Upre Roma Italy), Valeriu Capraru (National Federation of Local Action Groups Romania), Tobias Mayr (Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe) and Andrey Ivanov, Fundamental Rights Agency.

Dijana Pavlovic opened the panel by describing the local reality in Italy, where the level of antigypsyism also in local authorities is extreme. Building partnerships is difficult in a climate where Romani people always have to fear to lose their home during regular evictions.

Dominique Be presented the ROMACT programme, a joint initiative between the European Commission and the Council of Europe that seeks to assist mayors and municipal authorities to work together with local Roma communities to develop policies and public services that are inclusive of all, including Roma. Maaike Buyst spoke about several good practice examples of municipalities in Eurocities Roma inclusion working group, for example Ghent or Goteburg, including Roma mediators, Roma councils and other initiatives. Tobias Mayr presented the Declaration against anti-Gypsyism of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Inclusion of Roma and Travellers.

Valeriu Capraru spoke about opportunities and challenges for Roma inclusion through Local Action Groups in the CLLD process. Andrey Ivanov, Head of Sector Roma and Migrant Integration, Technical Assistance & Capacity Building, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights: presented the new report of the Local engagement for Roma inclusion” (“LERI”) project.

It became clear that two issues are important: Partnerships need to be backed by proper funding and capacity-building of both Roma civil society and local authorities, and antigypsyism need to be tackled on all levels in order to ensure trust of Roma towards institutions.

The conference was closed by ERGO board member Adriatik Hasantari together with Szabolcs Schmidt, Head of Unit Non-discrimination and Roma coordination European Commission, DG Justice, and Marie-Anne Paraskevas, Senior Policy Expert, Social Affairs & Inclusion, European Commission, DG Employment.

After the debate, the participants were invited to celebrate the ten years anniversary of ERGO Network together with ERGO staff and members, going together through the history of ERGO empowering the Roma grassroots and bridging Roma realities with EU policy-making.

 

Study Session ‘Knowledge is Power – Youth Understanding Antigypsyism’

Study Session ‘Knowledge is Power – Youth Understanding Antigypsyism’

A study session “ Knowledge is Power  – Youth Understanding Antigypsyism” was organized by ERGO Network and TernYpe International Roma Youth Network in cooperation with the European Youth Center Budapest of the Council of Europe from 7  to 13 October 2018.  During this study session, 20 Romani and Non-Romani young people came together to gain a deeper understanding of what antigypsyism is through different means of portraying elements of antigypsyism. The aim of the study session was to contribute to the development of a youth-friendly version of the reference paper on antigypsyism that can be understood by all. The participants had the chance to be creative and work together to comprehend, interpret and shorten some parts of the aforementioned reference paper.  Afterwards they could present the outcomes and outputs of these working groups. What was really interesting and praiseworthy noticing was the eagerness of the group to participate in the production of this exciting publication, which will be available soon.

The study session started with getting to know each other in order to get comfortable with one another, since antigypsyism is a very sensitive theme and the youth group consisted of  a diverse group of young people such as the Roma youth, travelers and non – Roma participants. Some of these youngsters were students at universities and some were already working for an NGO or had just started to run their own NGO. One thing they had in common was their experience with discrimination and realizing that antigypsyism has several stages.

In the last two days, the working groups were divided according to different themes. There were four themes; case studies, counter strategies, visuals and non – formal education. The participants from the case studies group found cases related to antigypsyism from different countries (eg. sterilization of Romani women). The group on counter strategies prepared some strategies how to combat antigypsyism on the basis of what they have learnt throughout the week. The group on visuals prepared very interesting material on how the “youth-friendly” version on antigypsyism could look like. And the group for non – formal education prepared detailed workshops whereby youth could learn about this theme.

 

A great deal of work was done by all the participants of the study session. The inputs were of a great importance and will further be used for drafting the youth friendly version of the reference paper