ERIO acting on the ground: what can school reveal about the status of Roma children in society?

by ERIO on October 8th, 2014

On Friday 3 October, ERIO organised an activity involving 7 year-old Roma and non-Roma children in the primary school Arc-en-Ciel in Brussels, Belgium. This exercise was part of the school research phase of the SMILE project which aims at fighting against the obstacles faced by Roma children in school. This project is based on a set of activities that are carried out in direct contact with students and the school officials in order to support primary schools in their effort to involve Roma students and to create a welcoming learning environment for Roma children and their families. In charge of the project in Belgium, ERIO has already led a number of activities, including desk research and activities on the ground.  
 
The goal of this exercise was to analyse friendships between 7 year-old children. Because drawings offer the possibility to depict children’s perceptions and feelings and are a privileged tool to encourage them to express themselves emotionally, Roma and non-Roma children, divided into three groups, were asked to make drawings symbolizing their relationships with their classmates and to answer questions about the meaning of friendship and difference. Roma children were assisted by a Roma linguistic mediator. The purpose of this first part of the research “on the ground” was to understand how perceptions and behaviours towards others are constructed in childhood and often determine the opinions and attitudes that grown-up children may have as adults. Apparently innocent and harmless, their drawings reveal in fact much more and will be analysed by a psychologist in order to understand and illustrate the status of Roma children in their classroom and more generally in society.
 
A further step will be achieved next week with a group discussion in the same school that will involve Roma/non-Roma parents and school staff.
 
To find out more about SMILE: http://www.erionet.eu/smile


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