Meeting with German teachers at ERIO

by ERIO on December 5th, 2013

On the 4th December 2013, ERIO welcomed a delegation of higher-school teachers from all over Germany. The meeting had been requested by the teachers in order to get more information about ERIO’s work and the situation of Roma in Europe. As a key actor in advocating for Roma inclusion throughout Europe, ERIO was proud to present its views and actions, most notably in the educational field.

Ivan Ivanov, Executive Director at ERIO, illustrated the advocacy activities towards the EU institutions. This is a long-term work, requiring expertise and perseverance through all of its phases. Although it is too early to properly evaluate concrete results for Roma communities - as underlined by Policy Officer Marta Pinto – ERIO pointed out the European Framework of National Roma Integration Strategies as a first large-scale success. In response to questions raised about the necessity of such a continental instrument, Mr. Ivanov recalled that Roma settled in Europe more than 700 years ago but we are still talking about integration in almost all Member States.

Though only few teachers have had some sporadic direct experience with Roma children in their classes, the interest in Roma communities and strategies of integration was highly tangible. All the more when talking about school. School segregation – whether in separated buildings or in “special” classes (otherwise conceived for mentally-ill children) -, lack of access to quality education, humiliation and discrimination within classes are all major problems that Roma children have to tackle on a daily basis. Let alone the fact that the poor environment in which they live necessarily affects Roma children’s results at school.

The same goes for another well-established stereotype: Roma parents prevent their children to attend school. What might have been true for cultural reasons some decades ago, it is no more a reality today. Residual resistances of the kind are due to economic difficulties of Roma families in paying for clothes, books and transports. These are resistances that – as Mr. Ivanov underlined – are typical of poor people, not Roma as such.

In the hope that these exchanges will further bear fruit among students and teachers alike, the meeting has once again proven ERIO’s commitment to dialogue with educational actors.

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