The EU Platform for Roma Inclusion 2017 mainly focused on Roma people and the job market. Discrimination was recognized as being a main obstacle for Roma, others pointed out that more efforts are needed to equalize opportunities in education. It was hardly mentioned, however, that young people’s success starts with education at birth.
The main topic of the European Platform for Roma Inclusion 2017, held in Brussels on 27 to 28 November, was the “transition from education to employment”. As the EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, highlighted, Europe cannot afford to let the young Roma not fulfill their potential.
There was a general understanding at the meeting that the disadvantage at the labor market is rooted in the lack of quality education. Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, Head of Department for Equality and Citizens Rights at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), asked: “Can anyone claim that segregated education can provide people with the skills for today’s competitive world?”
Unfortunately, the situation of the youngest children was hardly discussed. The event also failed to recognize that the best education starts at birth. As the evidence shows, the brain reaches its development peak at one year of age, and it is in the first years of life that education has the most impact on a person’s life.
If the EU wants Romani and Traveller young people to be freed from the vicious cycle of poverty and to develop their full potential, the answer is affordable quality education and care at birth.
Recently, REYN co-signed a joint statement to the European Commission. Together with other 50 civil society organizations, we called for a stronger recognition of Early Childhood Development and Health in the current policies as well as in the post-2020 EU strategy for Roma inclusion.