Learning without age limit
6 – 50 > Six years is the age of the youngest and 50 that of the oldest pupil who are attending classes for Roma in a suburb of Athens. Together with its Greekpartner, wortundtat started an educational project of its own for the minority ethnic community, which has been discriminated against throughout Europe. The aid organisation wants to use this new facility to ‘help, where other aid does not arrive’.This is the reason why the educational material for children, young people and adults, apart from academic basic skills, also consists of rules to be applied to interpersonal dealings outside the Roma community.
For many Greeks, prejudices and fears dominate the image they have of the Roma. As in the rest of Europe, hardly any other ethnic group is regarded as much as the main culprit when it comes to thefts, the transmission of diseases and many other negative events. Hence, most Roma families keep their distance to the rest of the population – and, as a result, do not learn the basic rules applied to interpersonal dealings outside their own community. However, without them, their children are almost unable to succeed in the prevalent schoolsystem. The result: every third adult Roma can neither read nor write. And only every twenty-fifth embarks on a higher education course.
Initially, the staff of our Greek partner was also full of prejudices and fears, when they discovered a Roma settlement in their direct neighbourhood in 2011. First curious contacts – in particular by the children – made it clear that despite of all differences, there were the same sentiments: the desire to be loved and appreciated is as strong with Roma youngsters as it is with their Greek contemporaries. As is their thirst for knowledge.
Education becomes a bridge of understanding
It has been a long way full of makeshift solutions from these first contacts to the emergence of an education programme. In September 2016, the organisers had achieved their goal. The new educational facility started with a comprehensive advanced education programme and especially rented rooms, where teachers now prepare children from the age of six to attend a regular school. However, young people and adults, who would like to catch up on what they missed during their childhood, are also welcome. Many of them hope that this step will at last bring them recognition outside their own community– maybe even a job.
And indeed, first successes give reason to feel confident. Meanwhile, some children and young adults have found a place at the local regular school. These successes – and the growing appreciation of each other – give rise to the hope that it will be possible to permanently improve the life situation of the participating Roma and their families.
You would like to know more about our new education programme for Roma? You find additional information on the project, on further plans and the situation of this ethnic group in our Magazine 2016 Edition 4 (german version).
Those involved in the project and the ones concerned still have many plans. They are grateful for any donation, however small.