A great start and a long run for Romani and Traveller children! – International Roma Day

- News

On the occasion of the International Roma Day, the Romani Early Years Network (REYN) is launching its new strategy for 2017-2020, which will provide guidance for national activities in 10 countries – Belgium, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

Our strategy at a glance:

Five years ago we initiated REYN to promote professional development opportunities to practitioners working with young Romani and Traveller children. Around the same time, the European Union had freshly launched their 2020 agenda together with the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies.

Five years later a lot still needs to be done. In the EU, 80% of Roma are at risk of poverty and every third Romani person lives in a household without tap water. Segregation in Roma-only classes is striking in spite of the Member States’ commitment to reduce the number of courses with only Romani pupils.

Children who are given a great start can go far. We strongly believe that championing Romani and Traveller children’s inclusion through education and care will substantially address increasingly troubling issues like discrimination and stigma, as well as lack of access to the labor market, healthcare services and housing.

Today we renew our commitment to advocate for an increased access to quality education and care for young Romani and Traveller children. We believe as well that Europe needs to embrace diversity in the early childhood workforce. Our vision is a society with equal opportunities for all and where all children have access to quality education and care services from birth.

Download the REYN Strategy.

The letter adventure: Learning to read is fun!

- Blog | Noeleen OHara

boy Aventura worksheetHe is 10 years old and smiling proudly: ‘I can read!’  He has just read his first reading card. The card consists of a short story made up of a few simple sentences. This is enough to give him the experience of reading and the motivation to learn more letters in order to read more. How beautiful to see children developing reading skills, children who thought they would never be able to learn to read at all, especially when they have been part of a class in which most of the others learned to read more easily.

To teach children to read and write in a class with different levels of competency is not easy, especially when most of them have difficulties with concentration for various reasons. In the educational program of the Association Laleaua in Tarnaveni, Romania, Roma children who attend the local primary school get daily remedial lessons after school hours. In 2009 the teachers at Laleaua struggled with the question: ‘How can we help the Roma children who attend our program to learn to read and write in the most efficient and successful way?’ They realized that lessons should be manageable for the children – not too difficult – that a considerable amount of repetition was needed for reinforcement, and that progression through the lessons should be paced for each individual child. A safe environment would be helpful to reduce fear of failure.  Based on these principles, key elements for their proposed way of teaching were:

  • immediate results by enabling children to read simple sentences
  • using stories from the children’s’ own life and environmenttwo boys worksheet
  • individual progress records
  • opportunities for repetition as needed

After starting to write the curriculum and teaching with it, the teachers were motivated to develop it further when they saw how the children were genuinely enjoying reading and writing. As familiar pictures and words from their own environment were used, the children were able to relate to what was taught.  For example, one of the words used is ‘mac’ (Romanian for ‘corn poppy’). A boy who had learned this word, came to the program the following day with a corn poppy in his hand: ‘Look what I found!’

The new curriculum is called Aventura Literelor, ‘The Letter Adventure’. An important guiding principle is: to give children experiences of success in accomplishing a task will lead to competence. Some of the children in the program learned more than the teachers first anticipated and were able to read simple children’s books. There are also some children who make little progress even after years of working with this curriculum. Maybe they will never become fluent readers and writers, but doing the exercises and being part of the class does increase their skills and they will know that it is okay to learn in their own tempo.

Jorine Steen, July 2016.

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Aventura small

Romani Early Years Network on Facebook

- Blog | Valery Novoselsky

Romani Early Years Network is the joint initiative of the Open Society Foundation’s Roma ‘Kopaçi’ initiatives at the Early Childhood Programme (ECP) and the International Step by Step Association (ISSA).

The goal of the Romani Early Years Network is to empower Roma and non-Roma Early Childhood Development (ECD) professionals and para-professionals working with Romani communities, offering them opportunities for professional development, study visits, and international networking across the early childhood development sector.

This Network had been officially launched on 15 October 2012 on ISSA-DECET Conference 2012 in Opatija, Croatia.