Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kosovo School for Roma Children

It was brought to my attention a couple of months ago a new make-shift school in Kosovo for Roma children. The school is run by Elizabeth Gowing, who's blog can be seen here. Elizabeth engages in lobbying efforts to change policy that forbids Romani children from attending the 'normal' schools where the majority population attends. This kind of segregation is not unique to Kosovo, as the Czech Republic is well known for putting Romani children in schools that are more appropriate for learning-challenged children. Roma children do not fall into that category, but are put there anyway in order to satisfy the xenophobic moods that permeate the halls of policy makers and the public alike.

A classmate of mine went back to Kosovo in March to continue research on her thesis and visited this school, returning with some photos of the kids taking part in a lesson. The building has no heat or electricity, so wearing coats indoors is the norm for these kids as they go about trying to learn something, so maybe, one day, they can break out of the cycle of poverty that is the norm for Roma throughout Europe.

As the blog explains further, some children have apparently lost there right to go to school because they missed the first two years when registration was open. Now, if they want to get in, they have to pass a test, which they can't pass without going to school. To run these classes, Gowing has calculated that it costs about 18 GBP to educate a child per month. All money is collected through donations, and the school is run by volunteers exclusively.

One would think that if the US can desegregate its society, bringing together Caucasians and African-Americans, then Europe can figure out a way to break out of its discriminatory ways and bring minorities and majorities together. It remains to be seen, after all it has been through with its genocides and campaigns to ethnically cleanse certain areas, if Europe, in this case the Balkans, can accomplish such a lofty goal.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points!
    I am in the middle of reading "Bury Me Standing" by Isabel Fonesca (1995). It was estimated at the time of the writing of the book that the diaspora accounted for approximately 12 million people with a poorly understood an undocumented culture. The author lived among and traveled with the Roma in order to write this book. I chose to read this book because I am awaiting departure for Macedonia and I wanted to know more about the culture and history of the Roma. Their are many cultural obstacles to be surmounted, especially regarding including the Roma children in formal education.