Roma children

Inclusion and reintegration of Roma children into the education system

Roma girl going to school
UNICEF/Moldova/2018/Munteanu

The challenge

Stigma and discrimination affect the enrollment and the school attendance of Roma children

The Roma are one of Moldova's most disadvantaged minority groups. Most Roma families live in poverty and lack the basic services they need, including access to healthcare and education. Roma children face discrimination to the same extent adults do, being denied the right to a safe, healthy and educated childhood.  

The problems Roma children face can start early in life. They are less likely to be registered at birth. Because many lack the birth certificate that signals their right to a whole range of services, including early education programmes.

Only one Roma child out of five attend a pre-school compared to four out of five non-Roma children.

At all education levels, Roma children attendance rates are much lower. Stigma and discrimination affect the enrolment and the school attendance of Roma children, who on average enter the educational system later and leave it earlier than others do. 

Only every second Roma child is enrolled in primary and secondary education as opposed to the majority (90 per cent) of non-Roma children. They also drop out of school significantly more often than their non-Roma peers.

Child marriage may be perceived as a way to protect young girls, and as a valued tradition. In reality, such marriages deepen the disparities experienced by girls, and narrow their opportunities in life. Child marriage and school drop-out are closely linked, particularly for girls, and such marriages also expose girls to the dangers of early pregnancy and childbirth, as well as a high risk of violence

By the time they reach adulthood, one in five Roma will be iliterate.

The solution

UNICEF initiatives are helping Roma children get an education.

UNICEF works together with education professionals, local NGOs and parents to make sure schools and preschools are welcoming places for all children. It strives to address the inclusion and reintegration of Roma children into the education system, as well as promote the value of education in Roma communities. Roma community mobilization is expected to help create greater understanding and trust between schools and families, ultimately increasing Roma children’s school attendance.