MORE AND MORE ROMA AND EGYPTIANS ARE EDUCATED, BUT THE PROBLEMS REMAIN THE SAME: ONLY FEW REACH THE FACULTY

It is necessary to continue providing scholarships and mentoring programs, to promote positive examples of pupils and students, to provide quality practical classes, but also to promote the principle of affirmative action when enrolling Roma and Egyptians, Samir Jaha, the executive director of the NGO Young Roma, says

 

The number of Roma and Egyptians (RE) who decide to continue their education after finishing primary school is growing every year, but it is still an inadequate and slow process, which must be more strongly supported by the society. According to the research conducted by the Center for Investigative Journalism of Montenegro (CIN-CG), the insufficient success of mastering the curriculum and a small number of those who reach higher educational levels speak it favor of it.

Out of about 8,000 members of RE community in Montenegro, there are 1,800 primary school and 115 secondary school pupils. Of the high school pupils, only one attends the gymnasium, while the rest are in vocational schools.

So far, eleven students from the RE community have successfully completed their studies at the State University of Montenegro, while 12 are still studying. Six new students enrolled the faculty this year, three of whom were admitted according to the principle of affirmative action, whereby the enrollment requirements were lowered, while three were enrolled in accordance with the regular procedure – it was announced recently during a meeting of representatives of the University of Montenegro and the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights.

Despite the fact that these numbers are still small, it is still a progress, because according to the NGO Young Roma, there were no new Roma students last year, and after three years, several Roma re-enrolled in high schools in Berane.

“According to our knowledge from the field, the number of young people from the RE community who will attend the education process at all three levels this school year will be significantly higher, which makes us particularly happy and encourages us to continue promoting the improvement of this process. However, the results of their school achievements are what we need to take into account and what, the institutions, the civil sector and others dealing with these problems should be additionally worried about”, Samir Jaha, the Executive Director of the NGO Youth Roma, says for CIN-CG.

Based on the research of this NGO for the school year 2018/19 on a sample of 122 pupils, or half of those in the final grades of primary school, there were no excellent pupils, very good only one, good 33, while 88 were sufficient. The total grade point average was 2.23, which is especially problematic for continuing education.

“Without the mentoring support provided by the NGO Young Roma with the financial support of the Roma Education Fund (REF) and the European Union, without scholarships provided by the Ministry of Education, the number of high school pupils would be significantly reduced,” Jaha said.

He points out that RE children do not have the same opportunities as their peers from the majority population. He also states that RE students do not have adequate learning support, which results in poor school performance from the beginning. 

Jaha believes that in primary education it is necessary to provide the following: teaching assistants in all schools where 20 or more RE pupils attend classes, mentoring support to pupils, free textbooks and school supplies. It is also necessary to organize additional seminars for teachers, in order to have more sensibility towards RE pupils. Involvement of parents of Roma and Egyptian children in the work of the parents’ council in schools is one of the conditions that Jaha insists on.

The report of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights on the implementation of the Strategy for Social Inclusion of Roma and Egyptians for 2019 states that the problem of lack of the awareness regarding the importance of education of this population due to poor socio-economic situation is present at all levels of education. One of the challenges that Roma and Egyptian children face during their education is insufficient knowledge of the official language.

For two years now, the NGO Young Roma has been implementing two projects in the field of education of RE pupils from primary and secondary schools “Improvement primary education – the first step towards quality secondary education” and Increasing access and participation of Roma students in secondary education and transition to labor market”. The projects` goals are raising the level of degree completion as well as improving the school success of RE pupils.

“Mentoring support to pupils has been provided through both projects. For that reason, 79 teachers and professors, who have worked with students of the RE population in the past period, have been hired for this activity. Their role is to monitor the work of students, provide them with support in order to prevent early school dropouts, motivate them to improve themselves and continue their education. “

For now, as Jaha states, they have had “only positive results”, so they plan to continue with this practice in the upcoming school year as well.

During the first corona virus wave, the NGO Young Roma has provided 160 tablets with internet access worth 20,000 EUR to RE primary and secondary school pupils, so that they could attend online classes.

In the field of education of RE students in secondary and higher education, Jaha estimates that it is necessary to continue providing scholarships and mentoring programs, promote positive examples of pupils and students, provide quality practical classes, but also promote the principle of affirmative action when enrolling  RE students to faculties.

“It is important to create conditions for high school pupils to get a job upon graduation with the help of internship funds and employer support.”

Declaration of Western Balkans Partners on Roma Integration was signed on 5th July 2019 in Poland. This document envisages a series of measures that should drastically improve the status of Roma in these countries. The Western Balkans countries have pledged to increase enrollment and completion rates for Roma primary education to 90 per cent, as well as enrollment and completion rate in secondary education to 50 per cent.

Delija: Don’t give up

Miljaim Delija, a master’s student at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, is one of the few who graduated from the faculty.

“Education is very important for me as a member of the Egyptian community, as well as for my family. It can provide me an easy access to all institutions, the job for which I am qualified and better social position “, Delija says for CIN-CG.

He estimates that the education of RE youth, compared to the period when he started school, has improved in recent years and that the support of the state has played an important role.

“Roma and Egyptians now find it easier to exercise their rights, they now have scholarships which has not been the case in the past.”

However, Delija believes that parents play a key role in the education process. Their support when it comes to children’s education is predominantly focused on men, while girls are more likely to stay at home.

Delija strongly believes that education is the right way out of the vicious circle of poverty. 

“The message for young people is not to give up on education, because that is the right path to success. They should finish the high school and then go to college… Thus, they will help themselves, and later their family and the whole society “, Delija says.

Serđan BAFTIJARI

 

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