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Roma Early Childhood Inclusion (RECI) Report: Promoting Quality ECD services for Roma children (REF/UNICEF/OSI ) Mihai Surdu, consultant, Roma Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Roma Early Childhood Inclusion (RECI) Report: Promoting Quality ECD services for Roma children (REF/UNICEF/OSI ) Mihai Surdu, consultant, Roma Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Roma Early Childhood Inclusion (RECI) Report: Promoting Quality ECD services for Roma children (REF/UNICEF/OSI ) Mihai Surdu, consultant, Roma Education Fund June 4, 2012 Brussels

2 Presentation content 1. RECI PROJECT IN BRIEF Rationale of RECI research Overview of the RECI project Main questions to answer National reports validation Expectations from the research process and report 2. KEY FINDINGS OF THE RECI OVERVIEW REPORT (1 to 6) 3. CONCLUSIONS AND PRINCIPLES OF ACTION The seven principles of action (1 and 2) An early childhood development agenda for Roma children Difficulties ahead in inclusion of Roma children

3 RECI PROJECT IN BRIEF

4 Rationale of RECI research Conveying a common message of the 3 organizational partners about the importance of ECD for the social inclusion of disadvantaged Roma communities The research process in itself - bringing ECD policy debate at national and European level - reuniting the expertise in regard with social inclusion, ECD and research and policy making The understanding that the early childhood period is the foundation stage not only of individual development but also of lifelong health and education. Investments must be made from the beginning if disadvantaged Roma children are to acquire the knowledge, attitudes and skills to continue education and become part of a skilled European workforce Evidence-based policies: stock tacking about the current situation in regard with disadvantaged Roma and ECD and about existing initiatives at governmental and nongovernmental level

5 Overview of the RECI project The RECI Project was sponsored and managed by the Roma Education Fund, the Open Society Institute and UNICEF The RECI Project was sponsored and managed by the Roma Education Fund, the Open Society Institute and UNICEF The purpose was to gather data and information about the inclusion of young Roma children in the early childhood services of four Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries: the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Serbia and Romania The purpose was to gather data and information about the inclusion of young Roma children in the early childhood services of four Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries: the Czech Republic, Macedonia, Serbia and Romania For each country, a National Report was researched and written by national experts, with the purpose of identifying the priority early childhood policy issues for Roma families and children For each country, a National Report was researched and written by national experts, with the purpose of identifying the priority early childhood policy issues for Roma families and children Each report was guided by a Report Format and common questionnaire. The final version of each National Report was commented on and validated at a national meeting of stakeholders, organised by the sponsoring organisations Each report was guided by a Report Format and common questionnaire. The final version of each National Report was commented on and validated at a national meeting of stakeholders, organised by the sponsoring organisations

6 Main questions to answer Do specific policies or strategies for the early development and education of Roma children 0-6 years exist? What are the initial qualifications required in the early education system? Does kindergarten pedagogy stress holistic development or does it focus more closely on preparation for school? Have kindergartens put into place structures and strategies to encourage minimum parental involvement? Is the transition of Roma children from kindergarten to school properly taken in charge? What are the challenges for the present kindergarten system to practice diversity and inter - culturalism ? Special themes of the report: pre school and school segregation and transition from kindergarten to primary school

7 National reports validation Written by two authors from each country, one an expert in early childhood policy and the other an expert in Roma education Each report is validated by: Each report is validated by: Conformity to the Report Format and questionnaire A national meeting of all the stakeholders in each country, including government representatives and international experts Agreement among the staff of three agencies at national level about the usefulness of the report The final chapter (conclusions and recommendations) of each report are written only after the national consultation meetings The final chapter (conclusions and recommendations) of each report are written only after the national consultation meetings A synthetic Overview Report was written by the lead ECD expert -John Bennett - corrected and validated at a review meeting bringing together the country authors, Roma representatives and government officials. The overview report was launched in March this year in Brussels. A synthetic Overview Report was written by the lead ECD expert -John Bennett - corrected and validated at a review meeting bringing together the country authors, Roma representatives and government officials. The overview report was launched in March this year in Brussels.

8 Expectations from the research process and report To have better data on Roma families and young children in regard with all aspects related with ECEC and ideally on a comparative perspective To encourage co-ordination between Ministries, international organisations, academics, NGOs and Roma communities To encourage the European Commission and governments to provide significant financing and ensure an accessible kindergarten in every community To raise general awareness and among Roma families of the importance of giving a good educational start to their young children To encourage isolated rural communities to establish mothers groups and informal play groups for young children To avoid segregation in kindergarten and promote access and substantial duration for Roma children to national education services

9 KEY FINDINGS OF THE RECI OVERVIEW REPORT

10 Key findings (1) Progress in policies - slow with large gaps in implementing legislation. Existing legislation rarely requires public authorities to take specific actions or to achieve measurable results Extreme poverty, intolerable living conditions, low educational levels and lack of employment undermine Roma family life and the health of young children in many Roma communities The social exclusion of Roma is greatly reinforced by majority discrimination and prejudice and range from negative stereotyping to political extremism In policies targeting Roma, a lack of indicators, institutional audits and evaluations severely hamper knowledge of which policies work and which not. Ministries and organisations working for social inclusion do not know what measures are successful, or whether they were implemented effectively

11 Key findings (2) The early development of Roma children, during infancy and the pre-kindergarten period, is not sufficiently supported because: 1) general under-estimation of the importance of the period 0–3 years 2) under spending on public health, social protection, and family policies Weaknesses in national legislation: young children do not receive a fair share of investment or services in contexts where funding is scarce and where the equitable and universal provision of pre-school services is not a statutory obligation for local governments

12 Key findings (3)

13 Lack of capacity to coordinate policy initiatives in support of Roma inclusion coming from external sources. Insufficiency of competent administrators to absorb effectively European Union and other sources into national policy. To justify the practice of segregation, children are tested at the age of 5, 6 or 7 for entry into primary school. Defectology tradition is still influential in CEE countries, these tests look for weaknesses and not strengths. In addition, they are generally culturally biased in the sense that they are designed with the majority child in mind and are administered through the majority language (few psychologists speak Romani languages). According to the National Reports, the time spent with each child may be as short, as 15 minutes. Key findings (4)

14 National kindergarten and primary education systems are failing to recruit, include, retain and educate Roma children by comparison with their non Roma peers Key findings (5)

15 Key findings (6) National kindergarten systems tend to be highly mono-cultural. Few Roma staff are employed and frequently, according to the focus groups, open prejudice is shown toward Roma children by teachers and majority parents. If she had good grades, the teacher uses to say: You see, she gets good grades even if she is a gypsy. Focus group parent, Craiova, Romania We love them [the Roma children], we help them but at school their colour starts to matter; the children start to separate, to marginalise Roma, to be unwilling to sit in the same bench with them. Focus group, teacher, Bucharest, Romania Children start going to [regular] school, attend it for a while, then become less and less successful and they start to feel neglected, unwanted. They dont have things that other kids have. Everyone avoids them. So the child doesnt want to go anymore, simply refuses to go, so his parents transfer him to a special school, where they also get benefits. Health mediator, Novi Sad, Serbia

16 CONCLUSIONS AND PRINCIPLES OF ACTION

17 1. Roma children are a valuable asset - investments in developmental readiness of Roma children and eliminating the many barriers experienced by Roma families to access public services will produce returns 2. Governments need to invest in communication and education to renew majority notions of citizenship and democracy and to change negative majority attitudes toward the Roma 3. The major responsibility for early childhood policies remains with national government. Their efforts will be more effective if linked closely with the Roma initiatives of the European Union. The mainstreaming of Roma inclusion issues into national policy areas rather than treating them as a separate issue. 4. In contexts of extreme poverty and exclusion, developmental readiness for school requires a multi-dimensional concept of early childhood programming that places a strong emphasis on early intervention and womens education The seven principles of action (1)

18 5. For successful policy implementation, effective governance of the kindergarten sector is critical: adequate financing, an ambitious vision, alignment and coherence with the national policy, effective use of resources, a commitment to equity, high quality school leaders and teachers, inter-ministerial co-operation, accountability and regular evaluation of policies 6. Effective kindergartens and schools for excluded children need clear goals, high quality, expanded services, outreach to parents and appropriate pedagogies. A free place in kindergarten should be provided for at least two years to every child coming from an absolute poverty background. 7. Evidence-based policy in the benefit of Roma children is urgently needed. Without research, consultation and data collection, effective policy-making cannot be achieved. The seven principles of action (2)

19 An early childhood development agenda for Roma children

20 Difficulties ahead in inclusion of Roma children The negative effects of out-of-school factors: family poverty and negative attitudes towards Roma, discrimination from institutions Political challenges as Roma represent a relatively small percent of voters Political challenges as Roma represent a relatively small percent of voters politicians do not see Roma inclusion as important. Decreasing number of jobs - jobs are the most important form of inclusion for any group including Roma Access difficulties - many municipalities without a crèche and even without a kindergarten, most of them being a poor Roma settlements Low levels of trust in national early childhood services and in school. Devalued image of school in general. Language development challenges - little understanding of the importance of birth to 3 years for the development of language (concepts, cognitive development) or of the importance of supporting the home-learning environment and mother tongue acquisition Low expectations of teachers, many of whom teach in appalling conditions or have difficulty in distinguishing their professional role from their personal opinions. Lack of appropriate training Exclusion by other children, continued segregationist practices and not applying inclusive legislation where existing, postponed intercultural exchange until late stages in school.

21 Thank you! The report can be accessed on: iles/publications/reci-overview-final-web.pdf iles/publications/reci-overview-final-web.pdf


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