On April 4, 2016 the project "Provision of quality education for Roma children in preschool education and primary school" was launched in 4 regions of Ukraine. It will last 2 years and contain new features that should contribute to the education of Roma, at the same time making it the desirable and conscious need for children and their parents.
The problem of quality education coverage of Roma children of pre-school age (3-5 years) and primary school age (6-10 years) has been solved in this format since 2010. The need for change is dictated by many interrelated factors such as low level of education among Roma (only 1% of Roma have higher education, 24% do not have it), Roma’s non-serious attitude towards education, the lack of understanding of its importance for the future, poverty, discrimination, lack of documentation, etc.
All-Ukrainian Fund "Step by Step" implements projects on creation of support centers for Roma parents since 2010. They were supported by Roma Program Initiative of International Renaissance Foundation and the "Kopachi Roma" Initiative of the Open Society Foundation (London).
6 support centers for Roma parents were established based on Roma voluntary organizations. Two programs were implemented: "Preparing for school" and "Confident parenting". Both adults and children were trained. Parents learnt how to support their young students and to create favorable conditions for learning, how to protect their rights to education; kids gained skills necessary for successful adaptation in a large and unfamiliar world of school.
Infographics: Dmytro Zhukov/IRC "Legal Space".
The project showed good results: 62 Roma children started to attend the first grade in 2014-2015 and 97 Roma children went to school in 2015-2016.
Now the idea of centers is supposed to be realized on the basis of schools and kindergartens to create a supportive learning environment that would make little Roma diligent students, motivate children and parents to continue education, creating a successful model for Roma education, given their national and social features.
Four primary schools and four kindergartens in Zakarpattya and Odessa regions are planned to be attracted. It is expected that at the end of the project best educational practices will be worked out in 14 primary grades and 12 pre-school groups.
The project of 2016-18 will be implemented in 3 cities: Uzhgorod, Mukachevo and Odessa. They were selected based on certain criteria: availability of centers for Roma parents, the adjusted cooperation with official agencies of education, recommendations by the international consultant Adrian Marsh (Open Society Foundation). In addition, most of the Roma are living in these regions.
Specialists will work with children and parents– 36 teachers from kindergartens, 24 – from pilot schools. Together with the implementers of the project teachers will attend several training workshops in Serbia, where it reached tangible results in the education of the Roma.
“This is a pilot project. In Odessa region it will be based at the integrated kindergarten with a high percentage of Roma children in Shyriaevo district. We will work with parents to provide the necessary assistance to their children in education, and separately with the teachers. They are to have a better idea of the specifics and culture of Roma”, the head of CF "The Planet of Good People" Maksym Jum noted. He will act as the consultant for work with Roma community and conduct workshops for teachers and their assistants.
It is worth noting that Roma pedagogic assistants is an innovation of this project. They will provide the necessary support to parents and children so that students could quickly integrate into the school environment, feel comfortable. In particular, the assistants will visit Roma families to have conversations about the importance of studying. Similar practice of involving teachers' assistants is implemented by Roma Women's Fund "Chirikli" in partnership with Transcarpathian Charitable Foundation "Blago" and the city's Department of education.
“Also to build the capacities of Roma, scholarships from Roma Educational Fund, the project will attract one of its graduates as a trainee”, the organizer of the project, the Director of the all-Ukrainian Fund "Step by Step" Natalia Sofiy. “His functions are: participation in planning, organizing and conducting project activities, maintaining the project pages in Facebook, participation in the mentorship program, the creation and distribution of electronic Bulletin of the project, preparation of information materials”.
The project will also be filled with trainings for teachers, trainers and Roma parents.
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