The case study on enrollment of Roma children in preschool education in Bosnia and Herzegovina

There were 12,583 Roma living in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), according to the official statistics from the 2013 population Census. Many civil society organizations working with Roma claimed that the actual number of Roma in BiH is much higher – from 40,000 up to 50,000. The social exclusion of the Roma population in BiH means that individuals, whole families, including settlements, are on the margins of society. They are unable to participate in the economic, social, and cultural trends. Therefore, they lack basic educational opportunities and employment.

Preschool education in BiH is a major weakness of the education system, having the lowest preschool participation rate in the region. According to Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys – MICS 4, only 25% of all children in BiH attend the preschool education. For Roma children, this number is even lower, as only 2% of Roma children, aged from 3 to 5 are enrolled in an organized early childhood education program. High fees, insufficient preschool capacities, uneven distribution of the network of preschool institutions across the country, lacking primarily in small towns and rural areas, a limited number of qualified staff, lack of awareness of the importance of early years education, and stigma and discrimination towards Roma and other marginalized groups are the main reasons for low enrolment in preschool education.

That is why the Kali Sara Association within the REYN BiH network has started conducting the case study that will set the ground for a successful campaign to enhance the participation of Roma children in preschool education.

“This case study will research enrollment of Roma children in the education system, focusing on the compulsory preschool program,” says director of Kali Sara Association Sanela Besic. “We will conduct analysis in nine target municipalities. We will analyze legal and procedural bottlenecks regarding access to preschool education, and will validate the findings with the key stakeholders. Based on the results of the study, we will define a set of recommendations that will hopefully remove legal and procedural barriers for the inclusion of Roma children in preschool education. Besides, we will share these recommendations with relevant government partners.”

The findings of the case study will also be used for UNICEF and REYN evidence-based programming to support the inclusion of Roma children in preschool education. The report is expected to be published in May 2021.