What needs to happen?

For most European citizens, there can be no question about the fact that education is the key to a rewarding professional future.

There may be many difficulties when it comes to finding rewarding jobs. Ideally, such jobs would match market demands for specific skills with the individual's need for personal fulfilment. Education and training may answer both types of needs: Europe as a ‘knowledge-based society’ relies on education for sustainable growth and economic prosperity and individual lives are shaped by learning experiences, in which formal education, especially in the acquisition of basic skills, is a powerful force in enhancing and developing one’s potential.

A successful education is by no means an easy task, both from the student’s and teacher’s points of view. There are many challenges, some of which may be overcome with innovative pedagogy, increased mobility, more adequate resources and, in some cases, a better head start with improved literacy and linguistic skills. These are difficulties that Roma families may face, but there are considerably bigger hurdles to be overcome that are more specific to their situation and that need to be properly identified and remedied. On many counts, Europe has not yet succeeded in overcoming educational disadvantages, which separate many minorities from mainstream society. In particular, whilst Member States and European institutions have made considerable efforts to improve the attainment levels of Roma students, overt or latent ethnic discrimination combined with the cycle of increasing poverty are still hampering prospects for better social inclusion.

The economic situation of Roma communities is often desperately poor. Whilst it is not a problem affecting Roma exclusively, it is important to get a clearer picture of what is at stake. Many Roma people struggle to have access to basic commodities such as food, basic health care and housing. In that context, education is often found to be too big a financial burden to bear. Many traditional communities understand education in a general sense as child rearing, for which the family environment amply suffices. Whatever benefits a more formal education may present for the future, in the form of early childhood education and care, are not well perceived.


Source: Roma and Education: Challenges and Opportunities in the European Union

© European Union, 2012

lifelong learning

This project is co-funded by the European Commission. This publication reflects the views of the author only and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use of the information contained therein.

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