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Joining efforts to ensure that all Roma children attend school

The school situation of Roma children was discussed today at a roundtable organized by the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and the Roma Education Fund in Chisinau  

CHISINAU, 25 June 2014 - Moldova has made significant progress in enrolling more Roma children into education but additional efforts are needed to make sure all Roma children go to school and enjoy the same learning opportunities as other children.

Nune Mangasaryan, UNICEF Representative in Moldova (centre), at the round-table meeting in Chisinau - UNICEF Moldova / 2014

This was concluded today at a roundtable, organized by the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and the Roma Education Fund (REF) in Moldova’s capital, Chisinau. The roundtable followed a recent study visit of Moldova’s national experts to Bulgaria and Serbia, organized by UNICEF Moldova in cooperation with REF and extensive support from UNICEF Bulgaria and Serbia, to learn from the good practices of Roma inclusion in those countries. 

According to the Ministry of Education, there have been important advances in strengthening inclusive education for Roma children. In 2011, the Programme for the Development of Inclusive Education was adopted, and includes among other categories, education of Roma children. In 2011 an action plan to support the Roma population, with a focus on education, health and social services, was also adopted. Community mediators were put in place to facilitate social inclusion and increase Roma children’s access to education and other services.

Only half of Roma children in Moldova attend primary and secondary education, compared to almost 100 per cent for non-Roma children, a study conducted in 2013 shows 

Despite these achievements, many Roma children are still missing from school. In communities that are almost exclusively Roma, only half of children attend primary and secondary education, compared to almost 100 per cent of non-Roma children. The situation is even worse in pre-school education, where only 1 in 5 children go to kindergartens.

Nune Mangasaryan, UNICEF Representative in Moldova, stated that in 2014 the world celebrates 25 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which stipulates that all children, regardless their ethnicity, have the right to education. “Huge progress has been achieved over the time in children’s education. In Moldova education is universal and almost all children go to school. However many children, like Roma and children with disabilities are still out of school. We need to join forces to ensure that no child is denied the basic right to education”.

According to educational specialists, many Roma children do not attend school because education is not considered to be important or useful in Roma communities. Parental illiteracy, ethnic segregation, discrimination and poverty further discourage children from enrolling in school. In the Gymnasium of Vulcăneşti (central Moldova), for example, where 180 Roma students are enrolled, only 13 to 15 students actually attend classes.  

Alla Marin, president of the Tarna Rom Association, who participated in the study visit to Bulgaria and Serbia, said that those countries have good practices of school inclusion of Roma children.  

“For example, in Bulgaria, social benefits are paid to families on the basis of school attendance by their children, while in Serbia, mothers are attracted to information and education activities through toy libraries, spaces where children can come to play or rent cognitive toys. Those practices could be further analyzed in the context of Moldova,” suggested Alla Marin. 

The roundtable “Experiences on desegregation process and access to quality education for Roma” brought together officials, representatives of international organizations, civil society, local authorities, and leaders of Roma community in Moldova. The meeting ended with a call to action to central and local authorities, district education departments and schools to further promote and implement Roma inclusion policies in Moldova.  

For further information, please contact:

Irina Lipcanu
Media Officer
UNICEF Moldova
Tel. 269 235

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