According to data from the Council of Europe (“Towards quality education for Roma children: transition from early childhood to primary education”, DGIV/EDU/ROM(2007)5), 50% of the Roma children around Europe do not complete their primary education. Some of the reasons that educational research has pointed out in order to explain this phenomenon are that during the child’s early years at home, Roma parents may often lack information and parenting skills to support their children’s language and social development (ECDGroup), that the expectations from education are very low, that the social environment in which the children live is characterized by an horizontal way of learning without the rigid school rules, that the oral basis of the language and the absence of books make the school a very different and strange environment for the Roma children (Charoula Stathopoulou, “Roma students at school”, 2005) etc. While it is generally accepted that the pre-school education is essential for the preparation of the children for the school, (especially in cases such as the Roma children where the school environment is very different from the family environment where the Roma children have been used to), the ECDGROUP report mentioned earlier pre-school is often not available for the Roma children. According to the report “This lack of access has been identified by the Roma NGOs as a major contributory factor in the educational failure of Roma”. But even in the cases where pre-school education exists “Frequently, formal kindergartens and preschools do not offer appropriate programmes for children from excluded background [...] Young children coming cold, hungry and in ill-health to class will be unable to participate as they ought”.

Having considered these issues, the project has decided to tackle this problem by creating and implementing a model for the organization of pre-school centers especially designed for the preparation of the Roma children at pre-school age. In these centres, the children, under the guidance of two intercultural intermediators (one Roma and one non Roma) are going to participate in activities that are going to prepare them in order to participate more effectively in the school. The partnership has focused on these particular needs because it considers that the main source of the problems of Roma is in the absence of proper education. Because of this absence, the Roma do not have the skills and competencies to find good job positions and therefore they continue to live in the property expanding this vicious circle. The first measure that has to be taken in order to improve the lives of Roma is to improve the participation rates of Roma in the schools. Also, it has decided to tackle this issue because, even if it is a recognized priority, very few things have been made until now for the pre-school education of Roma. The project also aims to contribute to the existence of qualified personnel that will be able to support effectively these pre-school centers. That’s why it is giving particular importance to the training of qualified personnel that will work as intercultural intermediators through face-to-face training as well as online training. The existence of both a Roma and a non-Roma intercultural intermediator, together with the activities that will take into account their cultural background will give to the children a sense of familiarity but they will also integrate them gradually to the school environment.

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icon Project Coordinator
Kostas Diamantis-Balaskas
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Telephone: 0030 210 6822606