Friday, 14 January 2011
Hearing On Education And Training: Tools For Roma Integration
Contribution by Olöf Olafsdottir, Director of Education and Languages, Council of Europe
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Participants,
May I begin by thanking the organisers for inviting the Council of Europe to participate in this Hearing. It is a pleasure for me to be here and to be able to inform you about our work for improving Roma education.
As many of you will know, the Council of Europe has a longstanding experience and expertise regarding Roma issues. Our work over the years is set out in a recently published [available in French – soon in English] book, “The Council of Europe and Roma : 40 years of action”. This book, written by Jean-Pierre Liégeois, recalls the various texts adopted by the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
It also recalls the monitoring work through bodies such as ECRI (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance), Human Rights Commissioner, the Framework Convention on minorities, the Charter on Minority or Regional Languages) and Roma related case law (ECtHR, collective complaints under the Revised Social Charter). It also describes concrete projects undertaken by the CoE to assist member States in implementing the adopted provisions and recommendations.
I can only recommend to Roma themselves, as well as to those who work for and with Roma to read this book, it is full of useful information on the various projects carried out in the Coe on this issue.
The Project “Education for Roma children in Europe” implemented between 2002 and 2009 is a good example. It has produced several concrete tools to improve the schooling of children, the quality of teaching, and to avoid early drop outs. Among those tools let me mention:
* the collection of pedagogical fact sheets on Roma history (available on line in English, French, Romani, Albanian, German, Serbian and Swedish). This tool has started to be included in national school curricula in some member states so that all children can learn about Roma history;
* the preschool teaching kit, which is an education programme designed to prepare children for entry into school (as many Roma, Sinti, Traveller children do not attend pre-primary school);
* the guide for Roma school mediators or assistants;
* teachers’ training on the need to take diversity into account (within our Pestalozzi programme on teacher training);
* the reference framework for educational policies in favour of Roma, Sinti and Travellers;
* a website and an interactive map about Samudaripen (Roma genocide).
* the framework curriculum for the Romani language;
* the toolkit for combating prejudices and stereotypes that was produced in the framework of the Dosta! awareness-raising campaign (www.dosta.org).
This campaign called Dosta! (Enough! in Romani) is aimed at improving the image of Roma, establishing stronger ties between Roma and the rest of the population and fighting anti-Gypsyism. It has already been launched in 15 CoE member states by national authorities, regions and/or municipalities (including several EU countries such as Bulgaria, France, Italy, Romania and Slovenia and soon in Greece, Germany and Spain – and countries waiting for accession countries, i.e. Western Balkans and Turkey).
Some of the Dosta! activities specifically relate to education, such as drawing school competitions and other awareness-raising activities involving children, parents and teachers. A child-friendly toolkit for combating stereotypes and prejudices to be developed jointly with UNICEF is under consideration.
More recently, our Secretary General called for an informal Ministerial meeting on Roma in Strasbourg on 20 October 2010. Indeed, far from considering that enough had been done in this field, the Council of Europe and its member states decided, in the presence of Commissioner Reding, to send a strong and clear message against any discrimination and stigmatisation of Roma, which regrettably persist in our societies.
Ministers and heads of delegations present adopted a Declaration which also fixes a set of specific, short term priority actions to improve the economic and social integration of Roma in Europe. This includes the setting-up of a European database on good practices and policies in the field of Roma integration, the extension and further promotion of the Dosta! campaign, as well as a training programme for Roma education, health and employment mediators.
Implementation of this latter priority started immediately under the authority of Mr Jeroen Schokkenbroek, appointed by the Secretary General as his Special Representative for Roma Issues. Mid-December 2010 a preparatory meeting between experts on (Roma) mediation took place in Strasbourg to discuss the methodology, the timeframe and materials available for the Council of Europe training programme for mediators.
The first trainers’ training will be held in Strasbourg on 26-29 January 2011. The trainers will be selected among those who responded to a call for applications launched late December 2010 for 16 countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Czech republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Turkey and Ukraine).
The mediators’ training programme will start in February with a first series of training sessions run at national level in national language. Most of the Roma mediators will be Roma (100% for school and health mediators; for employment mediators, there might be also non-Roma trained). A list of 13 beneficiary countries (Bulgaria, Czech republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Turkey and Ukraine) has already been established but more countries might be included in the future pending human and financial resources made available.
The Council of Europe pays particular attention to ensure coordination with other international partners and EU institutions in particular. In order to present its new 2011 priorities, the Council of Europe will hold a meeting with international partners (OSCE, EC, FRA, UNDP, UNHCR, WB, Roma Decade, REF, ERIO, ERTF, ERRC, OSI, CEB, etc.) in Strasbourg on 25 January 2011.
As concerns international cooperation in the specific field of Roma education, I would like to recall the first meeting of the International Task Force on the Education of Roma in Strasbourg on 28-29 October 2010. This Task Force aims at ensuring better coordination among international partners in the field of Roma education. It includes the Council of Europe, the European Commission, OSCE-ODIHR, UNESCO, UNICEF, REF, ISSA, OSI and hopefully soon the Fundamental Rights Agency of the EU.
By way of conclusion, I would like to propose to the EESC and its members to refer to the above-mentioned CoE initiatives in the EESC future working documents and request that EU member states - wherever necessary - translate and disseminate the above-mentioned material, join the Dosta! Campaign, provide examples of good practice for the database or support the enrolment of local Roma mediators in the CoE’s training programme.