Classrooms beyond Race - Integrated Education for Romani Children - A Conference Organized by the European Roma Rights Centre

The Roma Education Fund presented its programs in the area of accessing rights for quality education of Roma children during the conference “Classrooms beyond Race - Integrated Education for Romani Children,” organized by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) on October 5-6, 2015 in Belgrade, Serbia.

The aim of the conference was to discuss different aspects of discrimination against Romani children in accessing quality education, including segregation in education and discriminatory practices that exist across Europe. The conference gathered participants from Western Balkan/EU candidate countries who work in area of Roma Inclusion in order to discuss the challenges of rights violations, including court cases, and to share good practices of Roma inclusion programs from their countries. 

Dragana Vukcevic-Radoman and Admir Hadzibegovic from REF Branch Office in Montenegro presented a successful desegregation project implemented in Montenegro in the frame of the IPA funded Program for Integration and Return of RAE and other I/DPs residing in the Konik area. REF designed and implements the educational integration program of Roma and Egyptian children living in the Konik Camp in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education. Since the conference revealed that there are still many examples within Europe where Romani children attend segregated schools and classes, REF Montenegro presented the steps towards a successful a desegregation process, as well as the challenges and lessons learned. Conclusions were made that establishing close relationships with educational institutions, securing participation and support from Romani and non-Romani parents and detailed planning, including the support of Roma assistants, will ensure systematic changes and have long term impact on increasing access to and preventing the dropout of Romani and Egyptian children from primary education. 

Senad Mustafov, REF Country Facilitator for Macedonia, presented a policy paper that was developed together with the Ministry of Education and Science and the NGO National Roma Centrum from Kumanovo as a tool to improve and strengthen cooperation and coordination between all institutions and individuals involved in the educational system, aimed at ensuring equal conditions and opportunities for quality education for all students and preventing discrimination in the Macedonian educational system. The manual for prevention and protection from discrimination in the educational system in the Republic of Macedonia includes a comprehensive collection of domestic and international legislation, an overview of practical discriminatory cases in education, as well as processes and procedures in dealing with discrimination in schools.