Terre des hommes Foundation Romania, December, 2019 (EN/RO)
The study report in Romania presents the Obstacles faced in school (re)integration by Roma children in international migration.
The present report is produced within an intervention project as support for the organisation of an advocacy campaign addressed to Romanian and European relevant institutions addressing the structural obstacles faced by Roma children who migrate to various countries accompanying their families in seasonal or temporary work. The report develops mostly a practical approach, and less an academical one. It synthetises information collected in Romania, based on interviews and focus-groups with 35 teachers, school principals and other education specialists, as well as an online questionnaire completed by 116 teachers from schools with at least 50 Roma children at the national level. The report provides a synthesis and an analysis of testimonials collected from experienced specialists, and it provides recommendations and topics for advocacy targeting Romanian and other relevant European institutions.
This report starts with an analysis of the Romanian teachers’ and Roma parents’ view on the seasonal and temporary Roma migration trends in the EU and the children involved. The paper then discusses the educational impact of these migration cycles on Roma children in foreign countries and in Romania, having returned from migration.
A first set of conclusions indicate that the migration context is marked by unpredictability, precarious living conditions and low integration of Roma families abroad (in terms of language, housing and institutional experience). This context makes school integration of Roma children in foreign countries difficult. When living conditions are too precarious, children are left at home with grandparents. When better conditions are available (housing, labour contracts), smaller children are taken with their parents and supervised by one of them, up to the reach of school age. At school age, only a few children are registered in local schools abroad, while most of them are sent back in Romania. In many cases, they are sent back at higher ages than the one necessary for preparatory class, thus requiring adaptive efforts or risking entering the “Second Chance” Programme (when educational delays exceed three years). Some children come to Romania with previous school education experience abroad, especially those who are born in other EU countries. When a foreign school background exists, Roma children, attempting to register in Romanian schools, grapple with the inability to validate abroad schooling due to lacking documentation. The Romanian school system imposes their insertion in classes immediately. In 30 days, the family together with the school and the county school inspectorate must clarify the child’s previous school education abroad based on documents provided by the parents.
Analysing the Romanian legislation, regulations and procedures related to school to school transfers, including those made in international migration contexts, a second set of conclusions was formulated. It was found that there are available and specific mechanisms for proper school integration in most case scenario possible, including instances when no previous school documents are available. The equivalating procedures are not very complicated, involving school and county school inspectorate support. Yet, these procedures are often an obstacle for Roma families involved in circular migration. The procedure requires parents’ involvement in interactions with local institutions, which is often an impediment for many Roma families who are rarely available (because of migration) or able to conduct institutional procedures (writing requests, filling files, providing documents upon request, requesting documents from foreign schools). According to Romanian schools’ representatives, “the weak link” in the school to school transfer procedures consists in parents’ difficulties in following these procedures. In order to fill this gap, the schools in Romania initiate direct communication with schools abroad. Yet, this communication is rare and not regulated at the institutional level, placing those who initiate communication in risky situations. Increased cooperation during a child’s school transfer is required by Romanian schools regarding the information transfer of a child’s school history abroad and requisite documents for school registration in Romania. Schools also highlight the need to transfer information related to education contents and of information related to psycho-social environment previously experienced by children. This seamless sharing would facilitate a non-disruptive reintegration for Roma children who returned in Romania from international migration.
The final conclusions and recommendations indicate the need for international and interinstitutional regulations for the direct cooperation between schools in Romania and abroad. These conclusions also highlight the importance of a previous parents’ agreement for the interschool cooperation in general, based on which, technical and institutional cooperation should be carried out directly by specialists, especially when parents unable or unavailable to intermediate it.
This report, as the base for an Advocacy campaign, indicates the major recommendation of upgrading the SIIIR (Integrated Informatic System of Education in Romania), in the sense of developing an operational function, next to the current statistical function. The SIIIR already collects consistent data related to the educational background of each pupil in Romania. Were new functions made available in SIIIR, based on previous parents’ agreement, each school would be able to verify the educational history of a newcomer. This can be facilitated through various channels: through school access to SIIIR, the county school inspectorates or other existing or newly created contact points at the national level. Thus, the technical and institutional load of the process would be managed by specialists and not by the parents, who often do not have time, resources or do not understand the entire process. Moreover, interconnecting the SIIIR with other countries’ similar monitoring systems would enable the transnational cooperation between schools in various countries, directly or mediated by internationally agreed, secured and accredited contact points.
Upgrading SIIIR to acquire an educational profiling option based on parents’ previous agreement and interconnecting within a European network of similar systems are the major recommendations for the advocacy campaign to follow. Achieving this point would remove, at least, the administrative obstacles faced by (Roma) children involved in international migration and allowing a more consistent cooperation on other topics indicated by schools’ representatives.
II. STUDY OBJECTIVES
V. PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED BY ROMA CHILDREN ABROAD
V.1. General statistics regarding Romanian Roma migration
V.2. Schools’ perspective on Roma (children) international migration
V.3. The school education incentives and risks abroad
V.4. The types of school education abroad
VI. ROMA CHILDREN COMING BACK IN ROMANIA AND IN SCHOOLS
VI.1. Lack of documents for schools abroad / in Romania
VI.2. Migration impact on Roma children education
VI.3. General view on challenges faced by children when returning
VI.4. Difficulties in school adaptation upon return
VII. INSTITUTIONAL SETTINGS ANSWERING CHILDREN MIGRATION
VII.1. Equivalating procedures when documents are available
VII.2. Equivalating procedures when documents are missing
VII.3. The “Second Chance” Programme
VII.4. Conclusions regarding available institutional settings
VIII. SCHOOLS’ DIRECT (TRANSNATIONAL) COOPERATION FILLING “THE WEAK LINK”
IX. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
X. MAJOUR TOPIC FOR ADVOCACY: UPGRADING AND INTERCONNECTING THE “SIIIR” (Integrated Informatic System of Romanian Education)
This report was produced by
Terre des hommes Foundation Romania
Bogdan Romanică - Project Manager (research coordinator, PhD Sociologist)
With support in data analysis from:
Oana Ghiocea - Education Expert (data analysis assistant)
With support in data collection from:
Marius Cernușcă - Field Education Expert (field data assistant)
The report is available in two languages: EN / RO.