» Education of Roma children among the subjects of World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education
24.09.2010 - UNESCOPRESS

Education of Roma children among the subjects of World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education

With more than 10 million members, the Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe. Despite the efforts to expand and improve education for Roma children, as many as 50 per cent of those in Europe fail to complete primary education.

These findings are included in the Early Childhood Care and Education Regional Report - Europe and North America, which will be presented and discussed at  the first World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education (Moscow, 27-29 September). The report is one of five regional reports on Early Childhood Care and Education prepared for the conference, which is organised by UNESCO, the Russian Federation and the City of Moscow.

    “Children are our most precious resource, and education is a basic right” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova prior to the Moscow meeting. “The denial of this right leaves everybody much poorer. It creates exclusion. It creates unacceptable inequality. It nurtures social tensions. Let us seize the opportunity this conference offers to renew and expand our commitment to a healthy, happy start for all children – including and especially those who are currently being left behind. Everybody will reap the benefit.”

    According to the Regional report for Europe and North America, “among all the European populations, the Roma are at greatest risk of being poor, uneducated and unemployed.” It points to European and national opinion surveys that show many European citizens have negative views about this group that are often based on stereotypes and prejudice dating back several centuries.

    “To meet the challenge of Roma exclusion and continuing deprivation,” the Report states, “governments need to employ upstream fiscal, social and labour policies to reduce family poverty and give young children a fair start in life.”

    UNESCO and the Council of Europe are finalizing guidelines for policy-makers towards ensuring the right to basic education for Roma children, with particular emphasis on improving access to early childhood educational opportunities and their transition to quality primary education. These guidelines, entitled “Including Roma and Traveller Children in early Childhood Education Services” are expected to significantly contribute to making Roma’s and Travellers’ rights to quality and successful early childhood education a reality, and to guarantee a seamless transition to primary school

    UNESCO is also one of the co-signatories of the International Task Force for the Education of Roma (ITFER), whose mission is to develop and ensure close coordination of the international initiatives regarding the specific domain of the education for Roma, Sinti and Travellers (early childhood care and education, schooling, out-of-school education, vocational training, adult education…).  This Task Force will hold its first meeting in Strasbourg (France) on 28 and 29 October, 2010.

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