News

The children’s gift to Pope Francis

- News

Pope Francis appreciated receiving the decorations prepared by the children of our Play Hub in Slovakia. “The pope urged parents to find time for their children… he wants them to “play together”.” The Slovak President Andrej Kiska said.

The President of the Slovak Republic, Andrej Kiska visited Pope Francis in the Vatican and presented him with the Christmas tree ball prepared by the children of the TOY for Inclusion Play Hub in Spišský Hrhov.

During their meeting at the Vatican, last Friday, the two had the chance to talk about inclusion and integration among other things. Mr. Kiska informed the pope about the work done in Spišský Hrhov.

According to Mr. Kiska, much of their discussion centered on the family. He recalled how the pope urged parents to find time for their children. But not only with technology; he wants them to “play together.”

The balls will be hanging on the Christmas tree in the House of St. Martha, where Francis will serve mass every day until Christmas.

The Play Hub in Spišský Hrhov is situated in the local school and kindergarten. “Our children talk about the Play Hub during the day and plan meetings there after school. In this way, meetings among Roma and non-Roma families become part of the education system”, says Peter Strážik, school principal and local team coordinator.

Over the past months, the TOY for Inclusion Play Hub in Slovakia has been receiving appraisals by high level politicians, families and children.

REYN Italy and REYN Croatia event: Comparing Educational Practices

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REYN Italy and REYN Croatia start the autumn season with a joint event called “The Romani child between school and family: comparing educational experiences in Italy and Croatia.”

The event will take place in Rome (Italy) on November 17-19, 2017, focusing on the exchange of innovative educational practices in the two countries.

Associazione 21 Luglio, REYN Italy‘s coordinator, will present some experiences of Italy’s education system. At the same event Sanja Brajković, Psychologist, Open Academy Step by Step Croatia and REYN Croatia, will share innovative practices of her country of origin.

Entrance is free of charge, seating is limited and available on a first come first serve basis.

Find out more in Italian here.

Roma children’s education in Italy: from ‘gypsy pedagogy’ to innovative educational practices

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Luca Bravi, Historian, University of Florence

The ‘gypsy pedagogy’, which in the last half century has hindered all pedagogic actions directed at Romani children in Italy, marks a sad era that we must overcome. This is the conclusion reached by “The Roma child: from gypsy pedagogy to innovative educational practices” conference, held in Sesto Fiorentino, Italy, on May 19-20. The event was held by REYN Italy and in collaboration with other associations, and saw the attendance of about 60 participants.

Luca Bravi, Historian at the University of Florence, presented an important report. He highlighted the red thread linking the extermination of Roma families in Auschwitz and the “re-educative” approach conceived by some Italian pedagogues in the 1960s, which was then applied by institutional bodies and private social organizations in the 1980s. The “nomadic camps” and the “separated classes” represented discriminatory practices that have always considered the Roma child as a different child: coming from a distant culture and with an IQ below the norm.

“We cannot build new inclusion policies without having the deep knowledge and awareness of the history of “re-education” towards Roma people in Italy,” Mr. Bravi concluded.

Separated pedagogical approaches are still in use in different parts of Italy. Often they are difficult to recognize and criticize because they are disguised in practices that retain the label or the idea of ​​inclusion, but they always end up structuring around the theme of ghettoization.

It is no coincidence that still today in the guidelines of the Minister of Education, Research and the University, the Roma child is presented as “little inclined to pay attention to the anonymous and abstract speech addressed by the teacher to the entire class.”  For this reason, the Ministry recommends that “working with Roma, Sinti and Traveler students and families, requires a great deal of flexibility and willingness to set specific and personalized learning paths.”

All this has been proven wrong by the twelve stories of Roma children presented during the conference, which from North to South and from East to West of Italy, demonstrate the importance of a change of approach by operating a profound discontinuity with the past.

Today, those Roma boys and girls who attend Italian universities are no longer an exception. This has been possible because innovative approaches and non-segregating policies have prevailed.

The Formula? Putting the child at the center and working with parents; fostering an integrated approach targeting the whole class and not the children from Roma origins exclusively; supporting the family with parenting guidance and housing. The prospects opened in Sesto Fiorentino have been many and exciting. Once again, most likely, the problem is not represented by the 28,000 Roma living in the outskirts of the Italian metropolis (only 0.05% of the majority population) but by a culture, ours, heavily impregnated with prejudices and fears. That’s what we have to start addressing again.

Written by Carlo Stasolla,  president of Associazione 21 Luglio, REYN member in Italy.

Read more about the event on REYN Italy’s blog here.

Getting Out to Dream: simple dreams of home

- News

In 2007, after my university studies and a short experience of working in a segregated Roma community in Slovakia, I started my internship at the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre. Among my very first tasks was being sent on a mission to Rome to map the situation of Roma, seeking better living conditions, who were arriving there from other parts of Europe. I saw extreme living conditions, people literally living just from day to day, harassed by the police and still hoping for better lives for their children. I saw big men crying and concluding that even if it was difficult, it was worth it.

Many years have passed since those times, but the recently published report by Associazione 21 Luglio reveals very little, to no, improvements at all. In many aspects, the situation of Romani families, in formal (designed and managed by authorities) or informal (established spontaneously) camps may have worsened significantly. According to findings of Associazione 21 Luglio a Roma child who is born in this environment has almost zero chance of going to university and their chance of going finishing high school remains below 1%.

Research estimates that in Rome alone there are approximately 4,100 Romani children, of different nationalities, living in horrendous conditions: as many as 1,350 of them under six years old. These children are growing up in alarming, unhygienic conditions, among piles of waste which represent a constant threat to their immediate well being and their healthy development.

In addition to abysmal conditions, Associazione 21 Luglio has also pointed out how a lack of security of tenure for Romani families living in camps increases their vulnerability. In 2013 the number of recorded force evictions in Rome of Roma families was 54. In 2014 the figure dropped to 34 evictions but rose aggressively in 2015 when a total of 80 forced evictions from informal camps – which affected 1, 470 people, of which 810 were children – was recorded.

Difficult living conditions may serve as determinants for low school attendance. Mapping of school year 2014-2015, shows that among the Romani children enrolled in school, one out of five never showed up in class.  Out of approximately 1,800 children enrolled, only 198 attended classes regularly. With a new law in place, which implies that children with low attendance may not be admitted to the grading meeting, 90% of Romani school children are at risk of failing the year and having to repeat it. In this situation, where children do not have access to primary – mandatory – education, early childhood services are virtually non-existent.

The report by Associazione 21 Luglio  “Getting Out to Dream” and is a compilation of dreams. Simple dreams of home – of not seeing your home destroyed-  and dreams of going to school, makes brutal reading as the children fantasize about the fulfillment of their fundamental rights. Only by fulfilling their fundamental rights can children dream of higher and better things and only then can they imagine a fulfilling and fulfilled future.

Associazione 21 Luglio is the host of Romani Early Years Network Italy. Check their website, become a member and see how you can help.

You may want to start by signing a petition against forced evictions.

Creating Equitable Societies through Personal Transformation

- Blog | REYN Admin

Embracing Diversity – Creating Equitable Societies through Personal Transformation

Diversity RomaUnder the auspices of ISSA and the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s (BVLF) partnership project, “Capacity Building of Roma Supporting Partners”, ISSA Senior Program Manager Zorica Trikic, and Professor Jelena Vranjesevic from the University of Belgrade delivered training on “Embracing Diversity – Creating Equitable Societies through Personal Transformation”, in Rome in early November.

Embracing Diversity training promotes anti-discrimination and demonstrates how to build a society respectful of diversity. Hosted by ISSA’s Italian member, Associazione 21 Luglio, the three-day event welcomed 30 Roma and non-Roma trainees from all over the country, including some young Roma and Sinti activists.

The training was a poignant and rewarding experience both for trainees and trainers. Based on the honest exchange of first-hand experiences participants unpacked their personal stories highlighting how bias and stereotypes are taught, reinforced and perpetuated before working on how to uses their experiences to promote a more equitable society where diversity is valued, respected and protected.

Professionals from different universities and NGOs, including OsservAzione Popica Onlus, ABCittà, Mops (Movement for International Cooperation), ASCE (Association of Sardinia against marginalization) and University of Salento also participated.

ISSA trainers are available to delivering Embracing Diversity Training throughout the network.