“Education is for Everyone”: combatting early school leaving among the Roma in Romania
A new project for the Order of Malta’s Romanian volunteer corps
With around 15 million people this is the largest ethnic minority in the old continent. Often forced to live on the margins of society, the children are the first to suffer from lack of education and social exclusion.
Romania with its two million Roma is the European country with the greatest presence of this ethnic minority originating in northern India. The Order of Malta’s volunteer corps here – Serviciul de Ajutor Maltez în România (SAMR) – has launched an ambitious programme to give Roma children access to education. “Education is for Everyone”, as the initiative is called, is financed thanks to the efforts of the Order of Malta’s ambassador to the Roma people, an institutional function created two years ago that highlights the Order’s support for the integration of this ethnic group.
The project started up a few weeks ago and currently involves 30 children aged between 7 and 14 years, living in the small town of Satu-Mare in northern Romania. After school each day these children go to one of the Order of Malta’s centres with a team consisting of a coordinator, two social workers, four volunteers and teachers who help the children to do their homework, read, write and do arithmetic. At the end there is recreation with games and singing as well as a hot meal.
The “Education is for Everyone” project also provides free dental care for the children and paediatric dermatology services will shortly also be available.
The initiative will last for three years and not only encourages the Roma families to integrate in the social fabric but also addresses the school drop-out issue, with a very high rate among these people.