EU Platform for Roma Inclusion 2017, a missed chance for children’s education

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EU Roma Platform 2017The EU Platform for Roma Inclusion 2017 mainly focused on Roma people and the job market. Discrimination was recognized as being a main obstacle for Roma, others pointed out that more efforts are needed to equalize opportunities in education. It was hardly mentioned, however, that young people’s success starts with education at birth.

The main topic of the European Platform for Roma Inclusion 2017, held in Brussels on 27 to 28 November, was the “transition from education to employment”. As the EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, highlighted, Europe cannot afford to let the young Roma not fulfill their potential.

There was a general understanding at the meeting that the disadvantage at the labor market is rooted in the lack of quality education. Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, Head of Department for Equality and Citizens Rights at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), asked: “Can anyone claim that segregated education can provide people with the skills for today’s competitive world?”

EU Roma Platform 2017 Unfortunately, the situation of the youngest children was hardly discussed. The event also failed to recognize that the best education starts at birth. As the evidence shows, the brain reaches its development peak at one year of age, and it is in the first years of life that education has the most impact on a person’s life.

If the EU wants Romani and Traveller young people to be freed from the vicious cycle of poverty and to develop their full potential, the answer is affordable quality education and care at birth.

Recently, REYN co-signed a joint statement to the European Commission. Together with other 50 civil society organizations, we called for a stronger recognition of Early Childhood Development and Health in the current policies as well as in the post-2020 EU strategy for Roma inclusion.

Romani Early Years: Status Quo 2017 roundtable meeting

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The Romani Early Years: Status Quo 2017 meeting is a joint event hosted by the Romani Early Years Network, the Forum for Roma Inclusion and the European Public Health Alliance. The meeting will bring together Brussels-based civil society organizations, foundations and representatives of the European Commission to discuss steps toward increased access to quality early childhood education and care for Romani children.

The event, held April 10, 2017 in Brussels, will summarize the current challenges Romani children and families face and address the effective implementation of the policies aimed to lessen these challenges.

Event hosts have identified several key issues with the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS). The first of these issues is that the strategies focus on kindergarten and preschool education, which narrows the target age group and ignores informal settings for children (playgrounds, libraries etc.). Further, the assessment of the NRIS found that some areas that impact early childhood development, such as housing rights for parents or employment, have been overlooked. Health services, like vaccinations and preventative care for marginalized Roma communities are also lacking in the strategies. Lastly, funding for grassroots programs must be systemic and there should be stronger involvement from governments in order to promote sustainable solutions.

Participants at the roundtable will discuss these gaps and the need for continuing approaches for Roma inclusion past 2020.

For inquiries about attending or for more information please contact Stanislav Daniel, Program Manager and REYN Coordinator, via the email address

For more information on our co-hosts please follow the links to their websites below.

European Public Health Alliance

The European Foundation Centre’s Forum for Roma Inclusion