There is still room for improvement in the promotion of education among Roma in the field of Early Education and Care (ECEC) in Slovenia. Some specific activities can help in promoting ECEC professions among Roma, and the research that analyzed the number of Roma professionals in the field, conducted by Slovenian REYN Network in 2018, proves it.
There are no recent data on the rate of successfully finished education on a higher level by the Roma students. An evaluation study reports that around 500 Roma children among 4 350 finished primary school in 2005-2009. This means that around 60% of Roma children, who were enrolled in primary school, successfully finished their primary education. Even though this information is not up to date, it still indicates that there is much room for improvement on the promotion of education among Roma in general or specifically in the field of ECEC.
The Educational Research Institute that led the research, invited two Roma preschool teachers to visit some Roma settlements in Slovenia and present their job and work experiences. 13 parents, 8 preschool children, and 24 school children attended these workshops in three different Roma environments. These activities introduced the profession of a preschool teacher to parents and children and encouraged them to apply for a secondary or higher school to employ in this field.
The preschool teachers spoke about their profession and shared a video, which showed their routine work in the preschool. The final part of the workshop was dedicated to creative activity, through which they presented an aspect of their work in the preschool. Children and parents together created, for example, a glass lantern.
Children were impressed by these presentations, and some of them even pretended to be preschool teachers during the discussion. They enjoyed watching the video and looking at how a preschool by the Roma settlement was working.
“We could also have such a preschool in our settlement!” said one of the girls from the audience.
After the workshop, some children’s mothers requested more information about vocational retraining in education, which would allow them to get a job as preschool teacher assistants.
In some settlements, though, parents did not show much interest in the presentation – in some cases, the workshop facilitators sensed that parents felt a bit inferior to them, in some cases parents sounded quite pessimistic.
“Education does not ensure you a job if you are Roma,” shared one parent, while some other parents would be eager to get educated in this field, but lack financial support in fulfilling this wish.
The preschool teachers plan to have the same workshops also in the future.
“When planning such events, it is important to carefully choose the facilitator, a secure and known place, and ensure an informal atmosphere. Then the participants are more relaxed and open to ask questions. If they receive relevant information in an appropriate manner, parents could be empowered to encourage their children to decide for the profession, which we present,” concluded the preschool teachers, who conducted the workshops.