Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

Pre-Primary Education of Roma Children in Serbia: Barriers and Possibilities

Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

Pre-Primary Education of Roma Children in Serbia: Barriers and Possibilities

Article excerpt

In Serbia, as in the other countries of the Western Balkans and South-Eastern Europe, the most disadvantaged communities belong to the Roma minority. The present paper demonstrates the conditions of Roma preschool children in Serbia: primarily their early education, but also habitation and health in Roma settlements. The data highlight the under-representation of Roma children in pre-primary education, although their growing up in extremely deprived settlements would suggest a need for their earliest possible inclusion in pre-primary services. The paper analyses the following barriers to the access of Roma children to the system of pre-primary education: the poverty of Roma families; discrimination and prejudice towards Roma; the lack of intercultural provision; insufficient inter-sectorial cooperation; the underdeveloped network of preschool institutions; and the absence of kindergartens in Roma settlements. In addition, possible ways to increase the coverage of Roma children in pre-primary education are discussed. As a transitory solution, the paper proposes comprehensive community-based programmes that could contribute to the education, care, health and overall development of young Roma children before their inclusion in desegregated programmes in preschool institutions.

Keywords: Roma children; Pre-primary education; Comprehensive community-based programmes; Serbia

Predsolska vzgoja romskih otrok v Srbiji: ovire in moznosti

Suncica Macura-Milovanovic

* V Srbiji in tudi drugih drzavah vzhodnega Balkana in jugovzhodne Evrope je romska skupnost ena najbolj deprivilegiranih. Prispevek obravnava razmere romskih predsolskih otrok v Srbiji - primarno njihovo zgodnejse izobrazevanje, ob tem pa tudi bivanjske in zdravstvene razmere v romskih naseljih. Podatki kazejo, da je stevilo romskih otrok, ki so vkljuceni v predsolsko vzgojo, zelo nizko, ceprav bi - glede na to, da odrascajo v mocno nespodbudnem okolju - potrebovali cim hitrejso vkljucitev v predsolske ustanove. Prispevek analizira naslednje ovire, ki otezujejo vkljucitev romskih otrok v sistem predsolske vzgoje: revscina romskih druzin, diskriminacija in predsodki pred Romi, pomanjkanje medkulturnih predpisov, pomanjkljivo sodelovanje med ustanovami, nerazvita mreza predsolskih ustanov in odsotnost vrtcev v romskih naseljih. Prispevek obravnava tudi mogoce resitve za povecanje vkljucenosti romskih otrok v predsolsko vzgojo. Kot prehodna resitev so v prispevku predlagani obsezni javni programi, ki bi lahko prispevali k izobrazbi, negi, zdravju in k celostnemu razvoju romskih otrok se pred vkljucitvijo v vkljucujoce programe predsolske vzgoje.

Kljucne besede: romski otroci; predsolska vzgoja; celostni programi za skupnost; Srbija

Introduction

Research-based literature clearly shows that high quality pre-primary education, e.g., early childhood care and education (ECCE) (an international phrase that emphasises the continuum of education and care needed for young children) does benefit children in the long term, particularly the most disadvantaged children. Therefore, ECCE is explicitly defined "as an effective means to establish the basis for further learning, preventing school drop-out, increasing equity of outcomes and overall skill levels" (Eurydice, 2009).

There are, however, some intermediary factors that influence the effects of ECCE. For example, it must begin as early as possible: at age two or three (Eurydice Network, 2009; Sylva et al., 2004). Also, high quality ECCE provided on a large scale (in a sufficient 'dose') forces the emergence of certain school skills in the areas of language, literacy, maths and science, as well as supporting the development of young children's learning-related social-emotional skills, in particular self-regulation and social competence (McClelland et al., 2006). If ECCE programmes are expanded by incorporating strategies to work with parents and families in order to support and empower them, the effect on IQ and school achievement is stronger and more durable. …

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