REF and EU DG NEAR Partner for Roma Education in the Western Balkans and Turkey

On April 9, 2018, the Roma Education Fund (REF) signed an agreement with the European Commission Directorate-General European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) to implement a 39-month, multi-country Roma education project in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

Financed by a EUR 3 million contribution from the European Commission, together with EUR 800,000 in funding from REF, the EU Regional Action for Roma Education: Increased Education Opportunities for Roma Students and Roma Youth in Western Balkans and Turkey seeks to reduce the gap between Roma and non-Roma in participation and completion of quality education through gender-sensitive programming, to improve Roma students’ transition between education and employment and to promote durable systemic change and desegregation of education systems.

Specifically, over the next 39 months, it aims to promote equal participation in quality education for Roma children and youth at all educational levels (pre-school, primary, secondary, university and vocational), and to improve educational outcomes (including preventing school drop-out) with a special focus on reducing the wide gap between male and female education levels; to improve Roma youth employability and smooth transition between end of studies and employment market; and to promote desegregation and systemic durable change for Roma in the education sector by producing a change of attitude towards Roma and Roma communities; by strengthening the capacities of relevant central and local institutions; and by using Roma role models as actors of change.

This action is based on long-term implementation of actions aimed at supporting Roma children and youth at all educational levels, with the aim to introduce an integrated approach in the countries where REF already implements activities and to expand the activities to new areas/countries with a significant number of Roma population.

The project is designed in a way that will address and help reduce the substantial gap still existing between Roma and non-Roma in the Western Balkan and Turkey. It includes a regional dimension and aims to connect and strengthen similar projects that are being implemented bilaterally in the targeted countries. By including national and local level decision-making stakeholders, it will contribute to the reinforcement of policies for these critical issues of Roma education and employment. The action is focused on enhancing the political commitment to reduce the educational gap between Roma and non-Roma and to improve Roma youth's chances to enter the labour market, and to promote regional networking and exchange of practices. In addition, it includes regional visibility and awareness raising actions, regional knowledge sharing and mutual learning as well as regional dialogue. The implementation will be based on stakeholder consultations and a participatory approach, where all the potential stakeholders, including municipal authorities, county school inspectorates, head teachers, parents, local implementing NGOs, and other local actors will be approached and consulted.

The project is to be implemented by REF in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

For more information, stay tuned to REF’s website and social media for calls related to this project, including vacancies

This project is co-funded by


European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations

Action ID: IPA 2017/039-402.08/MC/Roma Education || EuropeAid/154870/DH/ACT/Multi