Addressing school segregation: promoting inclusion of Roma communities

In many European countries, school segregation remains a serious problem, with Roma communities being disproportionately impacted.

Challenges faced by Roma communities

Long-standing social marginalisation and prejudice against Roma people has resulted in considerable educational inequalities. Due to restricted access to quality schooling, numerous Roma children face greater dropout rates (70 % compared to 9.7 % in the rest of the population). Despite some improvements – predominantly in education – Europe still has a long way to go to achieve real equality for Roma people. While marginalisation persists, many continue to face a combination of discrimination, anti-gypsyism and socio-economic exclusion. These difficulties prevent successive generations from moving up the social ladder and continue the cycle of poverty.

Europe takes action

The European institutions have been actively addressing the issue of Roma equality, inclusion and participation and promoting access to quality education particularly for disadvantaged learners, for example through the Pathways to School Success initiative.

Access to early childhood education and care, high standards of instruction for all, targeted assistance for children at risk of exclusion, and diversity programmes are some of the key measures used to strive for the inclusion of Roma children. This requires member states applying universal and targeted measures that guarantee equitable access to education for Roma learners.

From policy to practice

Several projects and initiatives across Europe address prejudice and ethnic segregation in schools against Roma children. The Amalipe organisation in Bulgaria works to promote inter-ethnic dialogue and tolerance among Roma and other population. The organisation works with a network of nearly 300 schools to reduce the school dropout rates, introduce intercultural education and raise the educational status of the Roma.

The INSCHOOL project (Inclusive Schools: Making a Difference for Roma Children) supports the design and implementation of national inclusive education policies and innovative inclusive education practices in six countries.

Photo: Dusan Petkovic / Adobe Stock