Early childhood project gives a good start to Roma children in need



 9 November 2011

Early childhood project gives ‘a good start’ to young Roma children

According to existing data, a maximum of 20 percent of Roma children across Europe are enrolled in preschool. It is estimated that only one Roma child in four completes primary school in Central and South Eastern Europe. —Unicef 2010

“In spite of any stereotypes, it is clear from our results and research that most Roma parents are very keen to educate their children.”  —Costel Bercus, Chair of the Board Roma Education Fund

A Good Start will be holding a critical three-day meeting on the future of its early childhood development and care pilot programs for Roma children under age six in Romania on 9‒11 November 2011.

Working in two small communities in Telechiu (Bihor County) and Mofleni, Craiova (Dolj County), AGS has enrolled nearly 200 pupils and their families in a complex intervention to improve the cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development of these children. This shows that it is possible to achieve a good start for the Roma children’s education.

In Romania pre-school enrolment and general education levels for Roma are poor. However, Romania’s new Education Act makes a year of preparatory schooling compulsory for all children.

“There are major returns in getting Roma children into early education, the importance of this is acknowledged in the recent Communication on the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (EC 2011).  It is essential the Government of Romania keeps its commitments and creates the spaces and means for these children to attend.”
— Costel Bercus, Chair of the Board Roma Education Fund
In discussing results so far and opportunities to ensure that governments across the region honor their commitments, A Good Start hopes that its Fourth Transnational Workshop on 9‒11 November 2011 at Hotel President in Baile Felix will bring more positive changes for Roma families. The Workshop will provide an opportunity for NGOs from Romania, as well as Hungary, Macedonia and Slovakia, and government representatives to share experiences from the project and discuss how to reach more disadvantaged children.

A Good Start is funded by the European Commission and the Network of European Foundations. Ruhama Foundation is the implementer in Telechiu and Romani Criss leads in Craiova. As well as promoting enrolment and attendance, activities include information and counseling services, material assistance, transportation, and a mother-child story-telling group.

A Good Start is coordinated by Roma Education Fund and a team of international and local implementing partners. AGS targets over 4,000 Roma and non-Roma children and their parents or guardians.
Media Contacts:
Semsi Sainov, Country Officer, Roma Education Fund:
Tel: + 36.13270618
Email: Sainov@romaeducationfund.org

Szilvia Pallaghy, Project Manager, Roma Education Fund:
Tel: + 36.12358034
Email: szpallaghy@romaeducationfund.org
Margareta Matache, Executive Director, Roma Center for Social Inclusion and Studies (Romani CRISS)
Tel:+ 40.213107070
Email: magda@rommanicriss.org

Tina Daragiu, Ruhama Foundation
Tel:+ 40.722673794
Email: fundatia@ruhama.ro