CM(2009)62 add1 23 April 20091
1058 Meeting, 27 May 2009
7 Education and culture
7.1 Steering Committee for Education (CDED)
Draft Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)… of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the education of Roma and Travellers in Europe and its Explanatory Memorandum
Item to be prepared by the GR-C at its meeting on 19 May 2009
A. Aims of the recommendation
1. Almost a decade after the Committee of Ministers adopted Recommendation No. R (2000) 4 on the education of Roma/Gypsy children in Europe, it is necessary to take stock of the work done on the subject of the schooling of Roma children and young people, to draw lessons from this stocktaking exercise and to make fresh proposals.2
2. Once again Roma are being rejected, particularly in the current context of migratory movements. There are over 10 million Roma in the member states of the Council of Europe and they are therefore the numerically largest and at the same time most marginalised minority in Europe.
3. A number of new factors, however, are making people more aware of the problem and may provide ideas on how to improve the situation: the texts adopted by the various bodies of the Council of Europe and other European and international institutions, member states’ policies in favour of the Roma and the implementation of activities from which it is possible to draw practical lessons.
4. Over the last few years the Council of Europe has underlined its fundamental priorities in the field of human rights in general and the rights of children and minorities in particular, as well as in the field of access to democratic citizenship. The growing number of multicultural societies in 21st Century Europe, for which an appropriate political response is needed, clearly confirms the need for an intercultural approach, one of the fundamental principles on which the Council of Europe is based.
5. School issues and more broadly speaking education are at the heart of these priorities, with regard both to how these goals should be met and the means that must be implemented.
6. It goes without saying that the fact that Roma are rejected and marginalised does not make it easy to improve the conditions for their schooling. This concern also obviously takes second place to the need to ensure that they have enough to eat and access to basic health care, which is not always available/possible. Moreover, when Roma children do have access to a school, the problem of their education may still not be solved given that they may also be rejected within the school. In a large number of cases, they drop out of school, particularly if their families are constantly on the move.
7. There have been limited improvements in the schooling of Roma children over the last few years, and a very large proportion still do not attend school. There have admittedly been substantial changes in some areas: for example, more Roma children now attend pre-school institutions, more teachers are receiving appropriate
in-service training and more Roma mediators are being trained and recruited. Living conditions outside school have sometimes improved, but on the whole the situation is no better.
8. The aim of this recommendation is to propose new elements for a lasting solution to the education of Roma children in Europe.
B. Action taken by the Council of Europe and other organisations
9. The preamble of the recommendation mentions several texts that have been adopted over the years, showing that the Council of Europe has been giving attention to the Roma issue for many years: the Parliamentary Assembly first mentioned their situation some 40 years ago in Recommendation 563 (1969). Since then, several documents have highlighted the problem of the schooling of Roma children. These are, among others:
i. Resolution (75) 13 of the Committee of Ministers on the social situation of nomads in Europe;
ii. Resolution 125 (1981) of the Standing Conference (now the Congress) of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe Resolution 125 (1981) on the role and responsibility of local and regional authorities in regard to the cultural and social problems of populations of nomadic origin;
iii. Resolution 249 (1993) of the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe on Gypsies in Europe: the Role and Responsibilities of Local and Regional Authorities;
iv. Recommendation 1203 (1993) of the Parliamentary Assembly on “Gypsies in Europe”;
v. General Policy Recommendation No. 3 (1998) of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on Combating Racism and Intolerance against Roma/Gypsies;
vi. Recommendation 1557 (2002) of the Parliamentary Assembly on “The legal situation of the Roma in Europe”.
10. The recommendations of the Committee of Ministers adopted in 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008 on various aspects of the situation of the Roma (economy, employment, freedom of circulation, housing, health and policies for Roma) must also be mentioned: although they do not directly concern education problems, they are closely related and take account of the links between the different aspects of the Roma situation and the need for a holistic approach.
11. Some twenty judgments handed down by the European Court of Human Rights concern Roma. They are addressed to some 10 different member states and are an indicator of the high level of discrimination which occurs right across Europe. Education problems are mentioned in these judgments.
12. Several general texts also serve as a background to Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)…, namely:
i. the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which came into force in 1953 and has been supplemented by various additional Protocols, in particular Protocol No. 1 and Protocol No. 12, which concern discrimination;
ii. the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which came into force in 1998: Articles 6, 12, 13 and 14 address education issues and make specific recommendations;
iii. the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which came into force in 1998: although Romany is considered to be a “non-territorial” language it can, if the member state so decides, be one of the languages covered by the Charter, particular from the standpoint of Article 8 concerning education;
iv. the European Social Charter (revised version of 1996, which came into force in 1999), guarantees the effective implementation of rights and freedoms by the States Parties. Education is one of these rights;
v. while General Policy Recommendation No. 3 (1998) of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on Combating Racism and Intolerance against Roma/Gypsies directly concerns the Roma, the other ECRI Recommendations, in particular No. 7 and No. 10 also concern them;
vi. similarly, while some twenty judgments of the European Court of Human Rights find that member states have discriminated against Roma, other judgments concern problems of education for the Roma and provide a legal framework;
vii. the documents produced by the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education provide a basis for discussion and action. They present priority topics and some of them explicitly mention the education of Roma children. This was the case in Krakow in 2000, in Athens in 2003 and in Istanbul in 2007;
viii. at the Third Summit, the Heads of State and Government of the member states of the Council of Europe, meeting in Warsaw on 16 and 17 May 2005, said "We confirm our commitment to combat all kinds of exclusion and insecurity of the Roma communities in Europe and to promote their full and effective equality."
13. Reference should also be made to the Resolution on Education for the Roma, adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE in 2002, and its "Action Plan on improving the situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE area" adopted in 2003. The Action Plan comprises a chapter on "Improving access to education".
14. In 2003, following several reports on the situation of the Roma, the World Bank decided to open a special fund (Roma Education Fund), the education component of the broader “Decade of Roma Inclusion” programme, which will take place from 2005 to 2015. The initial plan was that the governments of Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Slovakia would implement this programme in co-operation with the European institutions.
15. Other states then joined these 9 countries. All European countries are potentially concerned by the Decade, which offers an opportunity for inter-institutional co-operation, involving the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the World Bank, the European Commission, the Open Society Institute, and other NGOs. The Decade provides a framework and a powerful vehicle for implementing activities concerning the education of Roma children, and the evaluation work that will be carried out will highlight the impact of these activities. It will be particularly important to take account of the conclusions of the DecadeWatch group, which is evaluating the work carried out in the context of the Decade.
16. The adoption of Recommendation No. R (2000) 4 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe was the outcome of the particular attention given by the Council of Europe to the education of Roma children and young people. The whole organisation has taken account of the importance of educational initiatives, and since 1983 the Directorate of Education has conducted a number of exploratory activities; their implementation has made it possible to avoid duplication while raising awareness of a complex issue.
17. Discussions have taken place in the cultural field with a view to launching a European Roma/Gypsy Cultural Route. Through the activities of the European Youth Centre, the Youth Directorate has also encouraged meetings with and the training of young Roma, and the establishment of a network for young Roma, the FERYP - Forum of European Roma Young People.
18. Recommendation No. R (2000) 4 was implemented through the Project on the Education of Roma Children, which was designed to serve as an instrument for guiding the work and co-ordinating a whole series of activities carried out at the initiative of and within the Council of Europe and at the initiative of its member states.
19. The basic policy paper of the project (CD-ED-BU (2002)30) helps to understand the underlying dynamics of the activities presented and how they fit together in a global strategy. It is also intended to give a coherent structure to any activities that may be conducted by the Council of Europe. The principles set out in this document may provide a basis for the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)… to ensure that it is complementary to and in keeping with the activities that have already been launched.
Comments on the articles set out in the Appendix to the recommendation
I – I. Principles of policies
Article I.1 – Appropriate policies that respect the rights of the Roma
20. This recommendation proposes that “Educational policies aiming at ensuring non-discriminatory access to quality education for Roma and Traveller children should be devised at national level”.
21. In terms of strategy, Recommendation 1557 (2002) of the Parliamentary Assembly on “The legal situation of Roma in Europe” highlights six conditions which are important in implementing special educational policies:
"The Assembly calls upon the member states to complete the six general conditions, which are necessary for the improvement of the situation of Roma in Europe:
a. to resolve the legal status of Roma;
b. to elaborate and implement specific programmes to improve the integration of Roma (...) into society (...);
c. to guarantee equal treatment for the Romany minority as an ethnic or national minority group in the field of education, employment, housing, health and public services;
d. to develop and implement positive action and preferential treatment for the socially deprived strata, including Roma (...);
e. to take specific measures and create special institutions for the protection of the Romany language, culture, traditions and identity;
f. to combat racism, xenophobia and intolerance and to ensure non-discriminatory treatment of Roma at local, regional, national and international levels."
22. The Committee of Ministers’ reply to the Parliamentary Assembly (CM/AS(2003)Rec1557 final –
13 June 2003) was positive:
“The Committee of Ministers finds that the approach suggested by the Assembly to elaborate and implement specific programmes to improve the integration of Roma and to ensure their participation in decision-making processes, is important in particular in the education field (...).
The Committee of Ministers strongly supports the Assembly’s call for equal treatment for Roma in the field of education, employment, housing, health and public services. In particular, it agrees that all practices of segregated schooling for Romany children should be stopped, particularly that of routing Romany children to schools or classes for disabled children.
As to the mention made of specific measures and special institutions for the protection of the Romany language and culture, the Committee of Ministers underlines that all the factors mentioned in this context have important educational implications reflected in the priorities mentioned in its Recommendation No.
R (2000) 4 on the education of Roma/Gypsy children in Europe."
23. Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)5 of the Committee of Ministers on policies for Roma and/or Travellers in Europe again clarified the approach that should be taken to this problem:
"With a view to ensuring full equality in practice, the principle of equal treatment shall not prevent any member state from maintaining or adopting specific measures to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to racial or ethnic origin.” (EC Directive 2000/43/EC). “The law should provide that the prohibition of racial discrimination does not prevent the maintenance or adoption of temporary special measures designed either to prevent or compensate for disadvantages suffered by [Roma and/or Travellers] or to facilitate their full participation in all fields of life. These measures should not be continued once the intended objectives have been achieved.” (ECRI General Policy Recommendation No. 7 on national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination, paragraph 5). (...)".
Article I .2 – Acknowledging diversity, in particular linguistic diversity
24. The activities concerning the education of Roma children conducted since the first seminar held by the Council of Europe in 1983, have clearly highlighted the principles and relevance of intercultural education.
25. The texts adopted on the education of Roma children, particularly those cited in the Preamble to the Recommendation and in the above comments, have regularly underlined the importance of teaching the Romany language and in the Romany language.
26. Other texts, which have been signed and ratified by an ever-growing number of states, provide a framework of reference for the principles underlying the policy to be followed. For example, the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, which came into force in 1998: the Roma are directly concerned by this text, and it makes explicit reference to education issues, namely in Articles 6, 12, 13 and 14, which contain specific recommendations.
27. The same applies to the Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which came into force in 1998: although Romany is considered to be a “non-territorial” language it can, nevertheless, be one of the languages covered by the Charter, in particular from the standpoint of Article 8 concerning education (the language used to teach, the training of language teachers and the teaching of history and of the culture which is reflected by the minority language). Some states already apply the Charter to Romany.
28. The principle of acknowledging diversity can also been seen in a wider context: for example, the theme of the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education, in Athens in 2003, was Intercultural education: managing diversity, strengthening democracy, an approach which is becoming increasingly important factor in the management of education systems. The documents produced at the Conference confirm that the Ministers’ priorities include activities relating to the education of Roma children.
29. In 2008, the Council of Europe White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue (CM(2008)30 final) summarises the situation and offers strong and coherent political support for the development of an intercultural market.
Article I.3 – A holistic approach with the participation of the Roma
30. The proposed measures form part of the holistic approach referred to in the Preamble. The framework document (CD-ED-BU (2002)30), which was drawn up with a view to implementing Recommendation
No. R (2000) 4, is intended to give a coherent structure to any activities the Council of Europe might undertake.
31. The effective participation of the Roma is essential at all levels of the drafting and implementation of policies. The measures taken are most likely to be appropriate if they are based on Roma input and active participation and on the principle of co-decision. Roma/Traveller parents are likely to feel greater responsibility for the education of their children if they are associated with the policy making and implementation of policies. Consistent policy in this field will create better awareness of their rights and responsibilities among Roma/Travellers, which in turn is likely to give better results and even reduction in the costs of education. Such reduction will obviously appeal to the decision-makers. To date, the Roma have rather been the objects of policies rather than active participants in framing and implementing those policies, and it is time that this changes.
32. Roma/Traveller children still receive little schooling and those who do, do so in unsatisfactory conditions; education is fundamental for securing access to citizenship and citizenship is fundamental for securing access to education; Roma have been unable to break into this circle, and activities need to be developed to improve the situation. The aim is therefore to ensure that the Roma have access to education to consolidate their status as citizens who are able to exercise their rights.
33. The Committee of Ministers took a clear stance on the subject of Roma participation in its reply (CM/AS(2003)Rec1557 final) to Recommendation 1557 (2002) of the Parliamentary Assembly on “The legal situation of Roma in Europe”:
"The Committee of Ministers finds that the approach suggested by the Assembly to elaborate and implement specific programmes to improve the integration of Roma and to ensure their participation in decision-making processes, is important in particular in the education field (...) by ensuring that Roma are actively involved through families, Roma experts and associations, in designing and implementing projects concerning them, particularly in the education field, on a genuine partnership basis."
34. The European Roma and Travellers Forum (ERTF), which maintains special relations with the Council of Europe, provides a sound partnership for the adoption of appropriate and practical measures.
Article I.4 – Adequate resources and flexible structures
35. When implementing Recommendation No. R (2000) 4, the Bureau of the Steering Committee for Education said that the implementing project
"it will guide member states in setting up a global and comprehensive programme that takes into account all (and not a selection of) measures and specific needs identified to integrate Roma into mainstream education. The programme should be sustainable, backed by secure funding from the ministries and be implemented uniformly throughout the education system." (see CC-ED-BU (2002)13).
36. If the proposals and activities are flexible, the chances of meeting needs in an appropriate manner, in keeping with the diversity of situations, are greater. For example new information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be used to meet the needs of itinerant families. Distance learning and training are particularly suited to scattered populations with no fixed geographical base, including groups with an itinerant or semi-itinerant lifestyle. ICTs provide a technical response to requests which it was previously difficult to meet. Take for example the Charter for Regional or Minority Languages which considered that it was impossible to apply certain articles to peoples who did not live in a specific country; this is no longer the case now that modern communication tools make it possible to produce and disseminate training modules at both national and European levels.
Article I.5 – Legal measures and appropriate training to prevent discrimination in schools
37. The Preamble underlines the negative impact which discrimination against Roma can have on their schooling. There are many texts which make this point, in particular those of the Commissioner for Human Rights.
37bis. As to the Framework Convention of the protection of national minorities, it should be recalled that in Section II, Article 4.1 it states: “The parties undertake to guarantee to persons belonging to national minorities the right of equality before the law and of equal protection of the law. In this respect, any discrimination based on belonging to a national minority shall be prohibited”. This article, as well as the following 4.2 on adequate measures to promote equality emphasise clearly that the Framework Convention presupposes that States having ratified this instrument actively pursue the goals embodied in the Convention, and that a passive attitude, such as absence of legislation to prevent and prohibit discrimination may amount to a violation of the obligations provided for under the Convention.
38. In General Policy Recommendation No. 3 (1998) of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on Combating Racism and Intolerance against Roma/Gypsies, it is recommended to member states that they "vigorously combat all forms of school segregation towards Roma/Gypsy children and ensure the effective enjoyment of equal access to education ".
39. In Recommendation 1557 (2002) on “The legal situation of Roma in Europe”, the Parliamentary Assembly calls on member states "to guarantee equal treatment for the Romany minority as an ethnic or national minority group in the field of education".
40. In Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on policies for Roma and/or Travellers in Europe, the Committee of Ministers acknowledges that:
"Roma and Travellers have faced, for more than five centuries, widespread and enduring discrimination, rejection and marginalisation all over Europe and in all areas of life; and were targeted victims of the Holocaust; and that forced displacement, discrimination and exclusion from participation in social life have resulted in poverty and disadvantage for many Roma and Traveller communities and individuals across Europe";
"the existence of anti-Gypsyism as a specific form of racism and intolerance, leading to hostile acts ranging from exclusion to violence against Roma and/or Traveller communities."
41. It is therefore necessary to take legal measures to counter discrimination in schools, but also to raise the awareness of the general public and of families, and to give education staff appropriate training to prevent discrimination. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, clearly stated that it was necessary to address the roots of the problem through education. She was speaking on International Roma Day on 8 April 2006, before the resurgence of bad feeling against Roma in 2007 et 2008:
"Silence has always been an accomplice of crime and persecution and in this respect Europe has a debt to its Roma and Travellers population (...). We have a duty to educate. It would be difficult to find an example of more deeper rooted, more widespread and more persisting prejudice than the one against Roma which continues to blind so many of our fellow Europeans. The only way out is to teach – about Roma, about tolerance, about acceptance and about respect."
42. It is therefore essential to provide carefully co-ordinated, high-quality training. Prejudices and stereotypes often result in rejection and conflict, and unsuitable teaching methods. The measures required to improve the current situation undoubtedly include studying the origin of stereotypes and maintaining a carefully selected but steady flow of information. Both families and teachers must be given substantial help to improve the conditions in which Roma are educated by changing people’s perception of them. Teachers are particularly well placed to achieve this; they must therefore be given the opportunity to seek and receive information which they can use in their work and must pass this information on to all their pupils.
Article I.6 – Combating segregation within schools
43. Numerous reports have drawn attention to the tendency to place Roma children in special classes or schools, in particular schools for disabled children. Their placement is often based on inappropriate tests, particularly language tests.
44. Both the European Court of Human Rights and the Commissioner for Human Rights have addressed this subject. "Another major problem is the improper placement of Roma children in special schools or classes for pupils with intellectual disabilities (...). This discrimination is unacceptable," said the Commissioner ("Viewpoint" of 31/03/2008).
45. It is therefore necessary to foster a positive approach to pupils’ cultural, social and linguistic traits, and to assess their skills and commitment in intercultural education, with a view to using teaching methods that reflect these traits.
46. Likewise, it is important that administrative practices and the teaching methods used to educate Roma children should be clearly distinguished from the theory and practice applied in the case of "maladjusted children” and “juvenile delinquents".
Article I.7 – Co-ordinating activities
47. The Preamble of the recommendation and the first section of the Appendix concerning the principles of policies, stress the fact that, in implementing appropriate policies, it is important to create the conditions for Roma pupils to learn undisturbed. The fact that some Roma families are itinerant, even if they represent only a very small proportion of Roma communities, must be clearly acknowledged, and the way in which they are received by the local community must be improved: the schooling of Roma children depends very much on their parents having somewhere to stay in the local area, just as the schooling of children from settled families depends on their living conditions. In the field of social policies it is also important that the necessary resources are employed to maintain and develop the economic activities of the Roma to ensure their vitality and independence. In other words, intercultural education policies are necessarily part of a comprehensive intercultural approach to all the factors involved and, given that the different sectors are interdependent, it is important that these policies are carefully co-ordinated.
48. At local level random measures usually prove to be unsuccessful; a comprehensive and comparative approach is therefore necessary, which means that the different partners, in particular parents and Roma organisations, at both local and national level, need to come together and to co-ordinate their activities.
Co-ordination ensures that ideas, activities and funding interact and complement each other, in keeping with clearly defined objectives.
49. With regard to teaching methods, co-ordination means working in a team including not only teachers but also educational advisers, inspectors and other partners. This makes it possible to share tasks and provide mutual support and makes sure that those who specialise in this field are not isolated from their colleagues.
Article I.8 – Taking account of itinerant life-styles and migration
50. Some Roma families are itinerant, for occupational or other reasons. It is therefore essential that the existence of a nomadic lifestyle is accepted and that itinerant families are made to feel welcome in the community. It is often suggested that they should settle down somewhere for good and explicit or implicit action is taken to put an end to their nomadic lifestyle. This both deprives itinerant families of their choice of lifestyle and disregards their drive and energy and adaptability, for example with regard to the trades they work in and in the social sphere. In all countries where there are people who lead a nomadic lifestyle, they lead a precarious existence: they are often rejected by the remainder of the population and encounter difficulties in finding sites where they can camp. However, the schooling of Roma children depends essentially on their parents having somewhere to stay in the local area, just as the schooling of children from settled families depends on their living conditions. The way in which Roma are treated also has a decisive impact on the health of both Roma children and their parents.
51. In the case of families which are itinerant because they are forced to move from one country to the next and to be migrants, it is essential that the children have access to schooling.
52. The working principles recommended in the above paragraphs, namely the flexibility of proposals, the co-ordination of activities and the technical solutions that can be applied to such situations (teaching modules, involvement of Roma mediators, use of ICTs, etc.) provide possible responses to the need for appropriate forms of schooling in good conditions.
II. Provision for access to education
Article II.9 – Flexibility of teaching methods
53. Observations of actual practice often link the quality of education to the flexibility of teaching methods which show greater respect for children since it is the teaching method which can be adapted to the child and not the other way round. Reports show that in order to successfully complete their education, children have to go through a process which is sometimes long and divided up into several stages; this process involves various structural arrangements and teaching methods, both simultaneous and consecutive; there must be flexibility not only in the structures involved but also in the way they function. The content of children’s education has to be open-ended and must remain so. The aim is not to make the content uniform but to ensure that it is suited to the needs.
54. There is a wide range of structures and everything possible should be done to take account of educational, cultural, language and occupational aspects. There is no all-embracing "solution", no multi-purpose "recipe", and the recommendations should be based on pedagogical considerations, including the way Roma children are treated at school and what constitutes a successful education from the point of view of both schools and Roma families. Take for example the potential offered by information and communication technologies — ICTs.
55. ICTs are of particular importance for the schooling of Roma children: they facilitate not only the dissemination of teaching modules but also tutoring and co-ordination between teachers in respect of children who are constantly on the move. They are also very useful for the in-service or further training of education staff. They are useful both for scattered school populations and itinerant pupils, because of the identical access and greater flexibility they offer: the Recommendation provides further impetus for action in this area.
56. The use of ICTs is synonymous not only with technical transformations but also with a certain approach to teaching and the introduction of methods which take account of cultural diversity. In keeping with the current trend towards acknowledging personal experiences and towards taking account and making use of local history in teaching, it also helps to forge closer links between teaching content and the pupils’ personal experiences.
Article II.10 – Higher rates of attendance at pre-school institutions
57. It is essential to consider the conditions and the importance of the initial stage of children’s education, ie pre-school institutions. Children who attend pre-school institutions are still malleable. It is the age at which they can be taught and learn for themselves how to adapt to their environment and to their subsequent schooling, but it is also the age at which they can sometimes encounter difficulties as regards their linguistic and cultural development, if the gap between their family and school environment is too wide.
58. Teachers must receive appropriate training, as pre-schools are also the place and time when young children develop fears, which can result in their avoiding and sometimes rejecting other children in a multicultural context in which the class reflects the juxtaposition of cultures to be found outside the school.
59. But it is also the time and place where children are very open to new ideas and to others, and where multiculturalism at school can be transformed into interculturalism, which is synonymous with co-operation. In this respect teacher training and family support are essential. It is a well known fact that up to a certain age, owing to the mutual understanding that often develops between individual children and the empathy that they experience, they have no prejudices or those that they do have are so ephemeral and varied that they do not cause any general tension or group antagonism based on differences such as language, skin colour or behaviour. However as they grow older, social representations of others are gradually forged and these can become widespread, fixed prejudices and in the long run virtually indestructible stereotypes.
Article II.11 – The transition towards compulsory schooling
60. Attending pre-school institutions is also important for Roma children’s subsequent education because it improves their chances of successfully completing school. If Roma children, and their families, are provided with the conditions which make it possible for the children to attend pre-school institutions, they are less likely to need special support later in life.
61 In some states the number and percentage of Roma children arbitrarily placed in classes for mentally disabled children from the very start of their education is also a major cause for concern. Giving them access to pre-schooling helps avoid this problem, which stigmatises them and leaves them without a future.
62. Because it is seen to be an obligation, measures are sometimes introduced to increase the number of children attending schools without obliging the institution to provide suitable facilities and programmes, or to meet parents’ expectations. Roma parents are fully aware of the importance of education and they do not need to be subjected to threats to send their children to school. However, they want to exercise as much control as possible over the influences to which their children are subjected and they are therefore more likely to send their children to school if they can do so of their own free will and if they can choose a school which respects their children and teaches them things which they believe will be of value to them.
63. Voluntary and regular attendance is a good measure of the ability of schools and classes to adapt to the diversity of the pupils. The most important thing for the parents is the way their children are treated, the respect they are given and how useful they consider the basic education they are given to be. To prevent Roma children from dropping out of school, ensuring that they are well treated must be a priority in all types of class, in other words there should be no form of rejection, either physical or administrative. The culture and cultural practices of children are recognised first and foremost in the respect shown for them and in the way they are treated at school and is more important than the pedagogical uses to which they can be put.
Article II.12 – Access to vocational training
64. Roma have considerable potential in terms of drive and energy and occupational skills and the necessary resources must be employed to maintain and develop the economic activities of the Roma to ensure their vitality and independence: they should be given appropriate training and account should be taken of their qualifications and professional experience so that their value is acknowledged on the labour market.
65. For example, pre-vocational and vocational training should be provided which corresponds to the motivations of the Roma and should be carefully planned in terms of linking traditional practices to possible openings in the market. Vocational training, like the other measures proposed, requires flexibility and imagination, to reflect the family situation and the basic school education acquired, so as to provide young Roma with reliable means of earning their living and adapting to their environment. Any projects or achievements in this field, require direct, detailed consultation of the young person’s parents, to ascertain their wishes, and benefit from their advice and their capacity for innovation. As far as consultation and training are concerned, Roma organisations have a particular responsibility towards the families they represent and to those who propose training activities; Roma organisations should be asked to help and be given help in conducting training courses for young Roma. Given that some countries’ legislation imposes a high level of qualification as a prerequisite for obtaining permission to exercise certain professions, it is necessary to introduce structural arrangements and training programmes which enable young people to attain this level.
Article II.13 – Access to higher education
66. A very small number and percentage of young Roma reach higher education.
67. Several states have introduced positive measures, in different forms, which help improve their chances of getting into higher education. The impact of these measures should be studied and those which have helped improve the situation significantly should be reinforced. Further measures need to be taken such as student grants and more special support for pupils in secondary education who have the potential to go on to higher education.
68. Special support should also be given to certain career branches, so as to train young Roma who could in turn play a role in the education system: for example training for Roma students who are preparing to teach the Romany language, history or culture. Given the European nature of the activities and the lack of facilities which can provide suitable training, Roma students should be given mobility grants to enable them to register for courses at universities in countries other than their country of origin.
Article II.14 – Involving the parents
69. It is important to take account of both the children’s and the parents’ aspirations, as they are driving forces for the acquisition of education. Children cannot lead two distinct social and cultural lives and simply pass from one to the other when they walk through the school gates. Teaching methods must take full account of children’s cultural traits. Experience of intercultural education show that children’s experience at school cannot be separated from their experience in their personal social and cultural context.
70. The parents’ involvement is therefore essential and efforts must be made to ensure that they are employed in connection with their children’s schooling, as teachers or as non-teaching staff, for example in extracurricular activities. Given that this is an entirely new approach, the first thing that must be done is to ensure their training and recruitment.
71. Likewise, concerning the need for consultation, which has been underlined several times, Roma organisations should be regularly consulted and involved in the preparation of projects. Provided they are given the necessary resources, it would also be a good idea if some of these organisations were tasked with organising educational activities: taking part in the further training of teachers, preparing information and training material, developing extracurricular activities and so on.
72. The constitution of liaison and consultation groups also provides the opportunity to bring together representatives of parents’ associations, teachers and representatives of the local authorities. Such groups can supplement and facilitate the work of those responsible for co-ordinating activities; this helps in bringing the different partners together, in identifying the measures that need to be taken and in monitoring activities and analysing the results.
Article II.15 – Roma mediators and teaching assistants
73. The use of properly trained Roma mediators is fundamental to the implementation of the basic principles of the education process of Roma children. Among other things, it reflects the need underlined above to draw on the drive and energy of Roma communities.
74. Recommendation No. R (2000) 4 makes two references to the importance of the training and employment of Roma mediators. When implementing this recommendation, several activities on the training and employment of Roma school mediators, teaching assistants or school monitors were planned. The objective was to compare teaching experiences so as to take stock of the situation in Europe and disseminate the results so that they could be used as a basis for new practices. This database of examples and “good practices” has therefore been made available.
75. The validation of the qualifications of Roma mediators and assistants through the recognition of their qualifications and experience (which must therefore be seriously and officially assessed) and the conditions in which they are employed is fundamental. This is in keeping with the objectives and priorities of democratic citizenship, which aims to encourage the involvement of all the stakeholders (in the instant case, the pupils, their families and teachers) in the everyday running of institutions. Roma school mediators or teaching assistants –who have a different function – play a key role as facilitators and intermediaries.
III – Curriculum, teaching material and teacher training
Article III.16 – Promoting intercultural dialogue
76. The intercultural approach is necessary, promising and strewn with difficulties. It acknowledges cultural pluralism in schools and the cultural traits of children, irrespective of their origin; these serve as a basis for teaching and become one of the components of the school dynamic. This approach presupposes acknowledgment of children’s intellectual and physical experiences in their own living environment and an understanding of their experiences both at school and outside school in various spheres (economic, educational, living conditions, and so on) which forge children’s characters and influence their behaviour; it also presupposes respect for cultures and individuals and for the opinion of the parents, who ask that care be taken when talking about the various aspects of their culture. It is also important that Roma culture be accepted and acknowledged by non-Roma children and their parents as a means of countering prejudices through intercultural dialogue.
77. Appropriate teaching material meets several needs, as it can be used:
• in classes as a support for the teaching methods devised by the teachers;
• for training teachers and other education staff;
• and, in a more general fashion, to promote Roma history, culture and language. Bringing Roma culture into schools helps to raise the status of the Roma community.
78. Such material is therefore designed and disseminated as part of an intercultural approach to teaching aimed at providing teachers with the training they require to deal with pupils from a wide range of cultures. The teaching modules concerning history, language and culture must be designed for use by all teachers and not only those who have Roma children in their class. Some of the material can also be used as a basis for training teachers and all education staff and be disseminated to a broader public, either for training purposes (mediators, social workers, police officers, local elected representatives, journalists, and so on) or by way of information targeted at specific institutions (for example museums and other cultural institutions) or for the information of the general public. Teaching material should be developed with this in mind.
Article III.17 – Taking account of Roma history and culture
78bis The Framework Convention for the protection of national minorities states, in its Section II, Article 12.1: “The Parties shall, where appropriate, take measures in the fields of education and research to foster knowledge of the culture, history, language and religion of their national minorities and of the majority”. Given that the scope of the notion of education in the Framework Convention is not limited to the basic compulsory school system, but also embraces pre-schools, higher education, research, as well as vocational education and educational activities outside regular school hours, member states can introduce Roma history and culture in the curriculum in many different ways, taking account of their education system and their specific conditions. What is important is that Roma history and culture are appropriately reflected.
79. Recommendation No. R (2000) 4 considered the development of suitable teaching material to be a priority:
"The curriculum, on the whole, and the teaching material should therefore be designed so as to take into account the cultural identity of Roma/Gypsy children. Romani history and culture should be introduced in the teaching material in order to reflect the cultural identity of Roma/Gypsy children. The participation of representatives of the Roma/Gypsy community should be encouraged in the development of teaching material on the history, culture or language of the Roma/Gypsies."
80. Other texts have also underlined the importance of having knowledge of Roma history, language and culture; this necessity is also a response to the repeated recommendations from Roma organisations (particularly since the First World Congress of Roma and Travellers in 1971) and by the international institutions, with a view to promoting the development and “revival of Gypsy language and culture” (Recommendation 1203 (1993) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; other relevant texts include Resolution 249 adopted in March 1993 by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, the Resolution adopted in May 1989 by the Council and Ministers of Education of the European Union, as well as the various OSCE declarations).
81. General Policy Recommendation No. 3 (1998) of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) on Combating Racism and Intolerance against Roma/Gypsies also recommends "introducing into the curricula of all schools information on the history and culture of Roma/Gypsies and to provide training programmes in this subject for teachers ".
Article III.18 – Disseminating teaching material
82. The Framework Convention for the protection of national minorities underlines the need to “provide access to textbooks” (Section II, Article 12.2).Teachers need a certain minimum material on which they can base their teaching. This applies especially to teachers who do not have experience of teaching Roma children: they do not have the possibility of using material which they themselves have prepared and tried out with children over several months or years. This need also results from the fact that a growing number of parents would like to see their culture acknowledged by its presence in schoolbooks.
83. Changes have taken place over the past 20 years. Suitable material has been developed but, apart from a few exceptions, it is still at the experimental stage. There are quite considerable differences from one country to the next: in some countries there is no basic teaching material concerning the Roma culture, while in other countries there is already quite a lot of little-known material. This material is the outcome of various initiatives by educational authorities but also by Roma organisations, which play an important role in providing information and as a contact point (mediation between the school and the parents, information within schools or at meetings).
84. The framework document (CD-ED-BU(2002)30) drawn up for the implementation of Recommendation No. R (2000) 4 provided the starting point for the production of suitable material. A series of steps was established for preparing material on each of the major themes (history, language and culture). The aim was to produce new material suitable for use throughout Europe in an organised and recognised fashion within the framework of the Project to fill in the gaps (history, linguistics, politics, etc.) and to encourage innovative approaches linked with other activities being carried out by the Council of Europe (for example, personal and local histories). This material can take the form of books, but also of collections of pedagogical factsheets covering a number of fields, such as history, culture, cinema, literature, theatre, and so on. Links should be envisaged between several aspects of the Project, for example a Cultural Route on which the production of factsheets should find a place.
85. Preparatory activities, seminars and meetings (particularly with museums of Roma culture and history), have launched the work on the drafting of modules and material for classroom use and for the training of education staff. Documents and factsheets have been produced as part of the Project, and after an experimental stage, they will be finalised and disseminated. This will also contribute to the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)….
Article III.19 – Specialised training on intercultural education
86. The Framework Convention for the protection of national minorities emphasises, in its Article 12.2 the need to provide “adequate opportunities for teacher training” .Many documents other documents relating to the question of Roma (official texts, reports, etc) emphasise the importance of training for educational staff, which must be conducted alongside or even prior to any other activities.
87. New teaching methods have emerged as a response to multiculturalism, which is becoming increasingly widespread in European schools, and measures reflecting a project of intercultural education are paving the way for new teaching practices which enhance aspects of the various cultures represented in the classroom and take account of the abilities and experience of each child.
88. Intercultural education teacher training activities were first devised at the Council of Europe’s first seminar on training teachers with Roma pupils in 1983. Others have been organised since then and a body of knowledge has been built up over the years as the result of discussions between teachers and the other stakeholders.
89. It is important that Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)… should draw fresh attention to this line of action. Although no one denies the need for more, appropriate training of education staff, such training is all the more important once agreement has been reached on the need for “school desegregation". If all the partners concerned agree to avoid or to abolish special structural arrangements, which may be considered discriminatory or result in the marginalisation of certain pupils, and if the aim is to ensure that children and young people who have been isolated do not continue to be marginalised and have the same opportunities as everyone else, there must be high-skills training courses - which must also be recognised as a qualification for those who follow them – and tools of learning, evaluation, co-ordination and monitoring, which help to focus attention on the importance of equal opportunities.
90. ICTs can also be of great value to training: the use of telematic tools ensures a high-standard of production and facilitates the dissemination of training modules at national and European level, irrespective of the geographical location of the trainers and the trainees. They also make it possible to co-operate more closely in the production of the modules, by pooling the skills of the various training institutions.
Article III.20 – Co-operation between all of the education staff
91. Increasing reference is made to "education staff", taking account of the need for an approach that involves not only teachers but also mediators, inspectors, teacher trainers and sometimes also social workers.
92. In the context of the education of Roma children, mediators and teaching assistants can provide vital support to teachers. The use of Roma mediators and assistance, which is essential to Roma children’s progress and success at school meets the need, underlined above, to use an approach that takes account of the motivations of Roma communities. Recommendation No. R (2000) 4 of the Committee of Ministers twice mentions the importance of these intermediaries (see paragraph 14 above).
Article III.21 – Promoting good practices
93. To ensure that good practices serve as a reference and as a guide in introducing new teaching methods, a transversal approach is required to avoid the compartmentalisation of Roma-based activities. The latter can serve as an example for other minorities and for education in general. Intercultural policy is, by definition, a policy adopted by everyone for everyone. Good practices can provide the basis and general support for the education of all children; examples are easy to find given that intercultural education activities are often of a high quality, innovative and require the active participation of all stakeholders.
94. Isolated measures are nearly always doomed to failure or the experience is of no value to others. An integrated and comparative approach is therefore necessary, and this requires meetings and co-ordination between the different partners, in particular parents and Roma organisations, at both local and national level. Co-ordination, as was pointed out in one of the preceding paragraphs, is necessary because it ensures that ideas, activities and funding interact and complement each other. It avoids the need to grope around in the dark and continually return to square one. Highlighting good practices makes it possible to share information between regions and countries, which means saving time, energy and resources, while offering the best chances or proposing suitable activities which have already been tested in other places.
IV. European exchange, sharing experiences and good practices
Article IV.22 – Providing more opportunities to take part in national and European exchanges
95. The Roma have no country of affiliation or country of origin that has provided them with support or a development framework for their history, culture and language and education, which means that the role played by the European institutions is even more important.
96. Links between persons working on the same subject in different states must be consolidated. The framework document (CD-ED-BU (2002)30) drawn up for the implementation of Recommendation No.
R (2000) 4 outlined the basis for such an approach:
"Pooling experiences and their results, comparing them by way of various forms of co-operation provides a much needed and adequate response to the problems that have to be faced. Sporadic efforts, unconnected with any overall considerations or structural projects, despite the efforts made in every direction in terms of time as well as human and financial resources, at best lead to a few minor successes, but are mostly an expensive duplication of past experiences and, in many cases, a repetition of mistakes that could have been known to lead to failure.
Co-ordination, analysis and evaluation, along with the subsequent information and training activities, mean that concerted action at European level leads to results that are much more than the simple sum of the co-ordinated and evaluated activities. Apart from the fact that these activities can have a stimulating and rallying effect, the joining of their efforts and their complementarity strengthen their effectiveness.”
97. It is now essential
a – to ensure co-ordination and organise more exchanges at European level between projects on the same theme; which together form a coherent whole, focusing on this specific problem;
b – to ensure co-ordination and exchanges in each state with various initiatives on the same theme; it is important that the networks established remain flexible and open to similar experiences; this openness increases the number of partners and their involvement, ensures more consultation on activities, opens the discussions up to new ideas, etc. Pilot projects like these have to have a sufficiently wide geographical coverage to be considered valid and legitimate and it is therefore important to try to involve the largest possible number of people and to widen the circle.
Articles IV.23 and 24 – Exchanges and good practices
98. Information about “good practices” can be disseminated by means of exchanges and the pooling of ideas, projects, results and evaluations. It is important that there is "synergy" between activities.
99. This requires the confirmation of the working methods that are emerging in some cases, ie:
a – support should be given to the different players so that they can hold occasional meetings, more in-depth discussions and take part in meetings or seminars related to the theme in question;
b – the different players should be able to attend information and training sessions on the theme that concerns them so as to avoid duplication and take advantage of the results of other activities;
c – information must be disseminated and all stakeholders invited to take part in a wide variety of ways: newsletter, gathering information by means of a study, regional or national meetings, and so on;
d – meetings should continue to be held at European level to take stock of the progress made and to facilitate the exchange of information and to ensure the coherence and progress of projects. These meetings, which serve the purposes of training and the exchange of ideas, and increasingly to evaluate the results, also have a motivating effect on those taking part and are essential for the emergence and consolidation of networks based on contacts between participants.
Article IV.25 – Dissemination of material produced by the Council of Europe
100. It is necessary to construct, develop and organise knowledge of Roma history, culture and language, which is yet another reason for ensuring serious work in co-operation with all the countries of Europe.
Co-operation and the comparison of work in this field are essential. They are also essential with a view to ensuring high standards and ensuring that there is no duplication and no waste of time, resources and energy and that countries share information and ideas on this subject, particularly in view of the fact that there are Roma communities throughout Europe.
101. The Internet site on the Education of Roma Children in Europe lists the documents produced as part of the proposals for implementing Recommendation No. R (2000) 4. The Reference framework for educational policies in favour of Roma, Sinti and Travellers – DGIV/EDU/ROM (2005)8 also mentions some of the ideas proposed: education pack for Roma pre-school children, seminars, a common reference framework for Romani language skills, training handbook for Roma school mediators, educational fact sheets, project for the launching of a Roma/Gypsy cultural route, participation by members of the Roma community in the implementation of activities, synergies with the Education for Democratic Citizenship Project. All this material and other material produced in the context of other projects such as Dosta! or the Curriculum Framework for Romani should be disseminated in the different member states,.
Article IV.26 – Co-ordination at European level
102. This article underlines that activities which can be considered to have been positive should be taken further and links established between them so that they are mutually reinforcing. This would help avoiding duplication and give meaning and visibility to the action for education of Roma as a whole. It is therefore important that the member states of the Council of Europe actively co-operate on these issues, and, in particular:
• organise their cooperation activities around priority activities and pilot projects proposed by member states through thematic networks that are open and flexible;
• ensure that not only all those who take part in the activities but also all partners and interested parties have access to regular information and to working tools such as data bases and relevant publications.
103. There should be increased synergy between the growing number of Council of Europe activities concerning the education of Roma children and those undertaken by UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank, the OSCE and the European Union. Provided that co-ordination continues between the various institutions, their joint efforts can be a powerful force for progress on a European scale. The requests received from many partners, reflecting the actual situation on the ground, shows the need for a pan-European approach. Information, expertise and the exchange of views should not stop at borders, especially when those concerned are a transnational community of over 10 million people in Europe, more than half of whom are children of school age.
Note 1 This document has been classified restricted until examination by the Committee of Ministers.
Note 2 The term "Roma" used in this text includes Roma, Sinti, Kalé, Travellers and related groups in Europe and is intended to cover the great diversity of groups concerned, including people who identify themselves as “Gypsies” and those referred to as “Travellers".