Filling the Gaps in Data Collection Practices on Roma in Europe

- Blog | SzilviaPallaghy

The collection of disaggregated data based on ethnicity is an issue of frequent discussion in the field of Roma socio-economic exclusion. The dearth of data is a direct result of privacy issues regarding the collection of such data and the misinterpretation of European Union law on data collection. This issue reflects a broader lack of data on marginalized groups in general. For instance, throughout the course of the “A Good Start” (AGS) pilot project, data that should have ideally been available from national statistical offices or public administrative sources had to be collected or substituted from available proxies.

To date, the gap in national census-taking data regarding ethnicity has led international organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank, and a smaller collection of non-governmental organizations including REF and its partners, to collect ethnically disaggregated data to be used in the design and development of evidence-based inclusion policies. A community assessment and detailed household survey on socio-economic features of Romani households, a children’s database, and an indicator worksheet were among the sources of new data created and utilized for the AGS project.

The survey of over 1,000 beneficiary families examined a wealth of data including: mother tongue, parents’ attitudes towards early childhood education and care, parents’ expectation towards their child’s future educational attainment, parent’s attitudes towards their child’s learning and development at home, reasons for participation or non-participation in formal preschool education, immunization and healthcare information, and limited socio-economic data. In addition to providing this baseline information, the survey helped identify attitudes towards preschool education and possible barriers to attendance. A significant focus was given to collecting data that would allow the project team to track and report progress on activities and outputs within the framework of the AGS project, and to identify effective strategies for scaling up the model at a European level.

AGS implementers had to consider a variety of issues throughout the data collection process including: how to design the questionnaire, translation issues, trialing the survey to examine potential problems, training local data collectors, time management during the conducting of the survey, social and cultural taboos and the protection of participants’ privacy. The participants’ responses were entered into an anonymous database and were used to tailor the design of local components around each community’s specific needs. The survey’s results were used to provide a comparison point to measure AGS’s impact and efficiency, while serving as a template for new efforts to scale up early childhood education and care for Romani children.

Please find the whole publication in pdf version ags_datacollectionguide