The COVID-19 crisis has once again proved that Roma communities may be poor in money, but rich in empathy and solidarity. No one was left without food, water or medicine during the crisis, thanks to the community support.
We believe that this empathy can be converted in the field of education also. The project envisions more gifted Roma students to help their more backward neighbours and relatives with school homework and lessons. This will reduce the number of early school drop-outs.
Roma neighbourhood “Iztok” (10 000 inhabitants) in the city of Kyustendil, Bulgaria.
Education is a key prerequisite for democracy and social cohesion. Lack of good education is a cause of social and economic isolation, marginalization and poverty. More than two thirds of Roma children in Bulgaria drop out of school prematurely, which significantly reduces their chances for sustainable social, political and economic integration. That is why the current project seeks to prevent early school drop-outs. The project introduces the children-to-children educational model. In this model, more advanced children help their more retarded friends. This is a sort of "domestication" of education. Through educational games and simulations, children manage to "translate" educational messages into the “language” of Roma culture.
Poor and illiterate people are the easiest victims of political manipulation and abuse. A society full of misery, alienation and anomie cannot promote civil activism, entrepreneurship, civic participation and political responsibility. That is why our project is aimed at education as a key long-term prerequisite for overcoming social and economic marginalization. Only a supportive and cohesive local community can develop civil activism and participation. The children-to-children education initiative contributes both to improvement of the quality of education and to unification of the community. We believe that our efforts today to educate students will be rewarded tomorrow as more responsible and active citizens.
Our long term experience in the community shows that the most excluded people are the most vulnerable. At the same time, the state's attempts in recent years to return Roma children to school with the police force have only widened the gap between educational institutions and the Roma community.
Our project uses a completely different approach. We are not trying to exclude and enforce decisions, but to convince and integrate. The children-to-children educational approach tries to build bridges between Roma everyday life and mentality and the educational system. This approach offers a kind of "translation" that brings educational messages into the homes and hearts of Roma students.
Now the state is trying to separate Roma children from their families. We do the opposite.
The proposed project idea includes: 1) Preparation of a methodology for children-to-children educational training with the support of three educational experts (duration - 1 month); 2) Approbation of the methodology in small groups (1 month); 3) Conducting children-to-children education (at homes, in the building of the local reading club, and in LARGO’s office) - with the help of school principals, teachers and Roma educational mediators, 12 student-tutors and at least 30 students at risk of dropping out will be recruited (8 months); 4) organization of public awareness informational events in the community; 5) conducting a media campaign; 6) results dissemination campaign.
We expect to mobilize local community resources (solidarity, empathy, supportiveness) in the name of reducing the share of Roma students who drop out of the educational system prematurely.
If the project is supported and implemented, we will prove that being a “Roma” and being a “pupil” are not two incompatible social roles. We will refute the statements of some ruling politicians who insist that the DNA-structure of the Roma people is "wrong".
We will have developed and tested a methodology for children-to-children education, which we will spread to other minority communities in the country and Europe.
We will have evidence-based arguments for an advocacy campaign that will contribute to the establishment of a more inclusive educational model.
Today many Roma people feel ashamed to be Roma. The more educated or wealthier even begin to deny their ethnicity and claim to be part of the majority. As long as it is unprestigious to be a Roma, there can be no successful social cohesion, civic integration, and political participation. We at LARGO believe that our model of children-to-children education will contribute to Roma throughout Europe to realize the strengths of Roma culture and use these strengths for a better life - solidarity, empathy, supportiveness.
Many Roma may not have the money to donate, but they have hearts and hands, ready to help. This is true for the whole of Europe, for the whole world.
LARGO Association has been working actively in the Roma neighbourhood of Kyustendil for almost 15 years. Over the years, our team has involved more than 20 participants - mostly young people and Roma students. About 50 young volunteers usually take part in our local community initiatives.
Currently our team consists of 5 people. We actively maintain two local partner networks: 1) the Healthcare Network includes GPs, nurses, experts from the Regional Health Inspectorate, and 2) the Education Network includes school principals, municipal officials, teachers, pastors from the local churches, community opinion leaders, and others.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Seminars for students (4 for one day): 2400
Community information events (4 issues): 2000
Community sports events (4 pieces): 2400
Conducting educational quizzes (2 pcs.): 1200
Event equipment (board games, sports equipment): 850
Equipment for students (10 tablets): 4300
Preparation of methodology (for 3 educational experts): 3600
Issuance of a booklet with the methodology (in a circulation of 1000 copies): 4800
Building a partner network (5 organizations): 1860
Dear friends, colleagues and partners, how do you cope with the rising wave of bureaucratic hypertrophy, neo-nationalism and xenophobia that are undermining the foundations of civil society, neglecting the rule of law, and breaking down the bridges that connect the different social groups?