Discrimination against Roma children in MK continues
Back in 1993 there were only 3 Roma students in Macedonian universities, and today, thanks to the quota aimed to encourage higher education of minority communities and the several private universities, this number is around 150. However, many of them do not graduate due to their low standard of living in FYR Macedonia.
Thursday, 10 June 2010
According to the Macedonian statistics, 73% of the Roma children who enroll in school never finish it, and according to an assessment conducted by UNICEF of primary schools, the estimated average national dropout rate is 2%, however among children from Roma and rural Turkish communities this rate is as high as 10%.
This is mainly due to lack of easy access to schools in rural areas, poorer quality of teaching in schools attended by Roma and rural Turkish children, traditional attitudes towards the education of girls, early marriage for girls as well as the work in the grey economy for boys.
"The biggest problem is the delayed enrollment of Roma children and the fact that many parents do not enroll their children in primary education at all. Then, it's the very high dropout rate", said Dragan Nedeljkovic from the government body for education of minorities, for the research center Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso - OBC.
"It can happen that up to 3-4 children from a family are of school age. The books and the school kits are expensive. It is impossible for the parents to sustain this economic burden", said Saip Iseni, principal of a primary school in the largest Roma community in Macedonia, Suto Orizari.
- Need for more effective implementation of the National Strategy for Roma
In this context, the national strategy for the Roma currently being developed in the Republic of Macedonia, has an important role to play in breaking down the barriers with which Roma children are confronted in the education sphere. Under this program, the government have to adopt and over a ten year period, implement national strategies aimed at advancement of Roma in their societies. The Macedonian strategy has four priorities: housing, education, employment, and health protection.
Although the government officials are rather optimistic regarding the implementation of this strategy, Ramadan Pilji from one of the largest Roma NGOs "Mesecina", stated that "the government to date hadn't done much for the Roma’’.
"We are not content" says he, "but we are optimists and want to believe. We will have to work hard in the next 10 years."
- HCHR in MK pressures the Government
The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in the Republic of Macedonia, with concern continuously points out the same problems regarding Roma education, and reminding the competent institutions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that strictly prohibits discrimination regardless of the race, the colour of the skin, the gender, the religion, the political or other convictions, national, ethnic or social origin, disability, background or other status of the child.
HCHR has publicly addressed in April this year, to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Government of the Republic of Macedonia with a request to inform them which are measures they have undertaken based on the given recommendations in order to provide proper protection of the rights and the interests of the children at these schools, primarily having in mind the best interest of every child individually.
“Roma children are among the most deprived members of society. Through education today’s children will be able to enjoy better living standards tomorrow. Education can open new opportunities that have been denied to so many Roma people for so long,” said Ms. Hongwei Gao, UNICEF Country Representative, in a recent appeal for Roma parents to enroll and keep their children in school.