Romani People, Educational and Housing Policies: Key Links to Share

El proyecto pretende reforzar el compromiso político de todos los actores relevantes implicados en la integración de las poblaciones romaníes mediante el intercambio de información y buenas prácticas en la implementación de acercamientos innovadores e integrales a las condiciones educativas y de vivienda de los inmigrantes romaníes del Este Europeo, incluyendo medidas de creación de las capacidades (capacity building). Se pretende alcanzar tal objetivo a través de un consorcio interregional fuerte, implicado en la promoción a largo plazo de un ciclo virtuoso de aprendizaje político mutuo en las áreas mencionadas. Para esto, se creará una red Europea compuesta por actores institucionales diferentes – institutos de investigación, autoridades locales y regionales, organizaciones de la sociedad civil, incluyendo a organizaciones romaníes. El rol jugado por procesos de racialización/etnicización de las necesidades de los Roma del Este Europeo y de su exclusión en los debates públicos, así como las recientes recomenda-ciones en torno al Marco UE para las Estrategias Nacionales de Inclusión de la Población Gitana hasta 2020 serán considerados cuestiones transversales de análisis a lo largo de todo el desarrollo del proyecto.

Duration 1.1.2013 – 31.12.2014

During the last decade, the improvement of the living conditions of EU Romani citizens has progressively turned into a priority for the EU. The most recent step in this direction is represented by the call of the European Commission (EC) to ‘National Roma Integration Strategies’ (COM/2011/173/4). Hereby, the EC accepted to play a stronger role in coordinating the action of Member States, resting the primary responsibility for Roma integration with the national governments. Member States were requested to prepare or revise their National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) by the end of 2011. From that moment, different levels of state and non-state governance have a joint responsibility for the inclusion of Roma in the areas of education, employment, healthcare and housing. The experiences and knowledges collected until now by national and local entities, put them in the condition to play a proactive role in the progressive advocation of the NRISs. For this reason it is extremely important to create sustainable intra-national and inter-national mechanisms of bottom-up-bottom mutual interchange of policies and good practices on Roma inclusion.

A non-discriminatory access to quality education represents undoubtedly a key-element to break the vicious cycle of poverty moving from one generation to the next. The implementation of the measures on education foreseen by the NRISs will represent a fundamental step to generalize also to Roma the access and permanence in compulsory education cycles and ensure the achievement of satisfactory educational results. However, the multi-dimensional disadvantages characterizing many Romani citizens requires to address their social inclusion in a very holistic way. As our action-research experiences demonstrate, the access to quality housing is a key element for a satisfactory inclusion of Roma children into the mainstream education systems. On the contrary, a failed access to a decent and adequate housing (e.g. the lack of basic material condition and overcrowding) and a high residential mobility (which is frequently linked with the primary necessity to satisfy the basic housing needs) are often connected with absenteeism or disruption in school attendance. For that reason, initiatives in the field of education are doomed to fail unless these are underpinned by a strong policy coordination among different areas of welfare and a long-term commitment of policy makers, bureaucrats and public servants

Nevertheless, a quality access to education and housing is not sufficient at ensuring the socio-economic inclusion of Romani citizens. The lack of mutual recognition could lead to the ineffectiveness of even coordinated educational and housing measures. As a matter of fact, many times the professional working in the sector of education and housing ascribe to Romani families a lack of willingness or even cultural deficits vis-á-vis their educational and housing incorporation. Likewise, the perceived distance in particular of the educational institution from the specific needs of Roma families contributes at strengthening their mistrust in the mainstream education system. For that reason, it is necessary to develop mutual capacity-building activities in order to meet the gap between conventional educational, housing resources and family patterns, providing the actors involved in the inclusion processes with a ‘cultural’ capital which make them able to make a better use of welfare resources. The stakeholders responsible for the development and implementation of practices (of coordination) in the field of education and housing should be made acquaint with the need for a two-way process of empowerment and also be provided with the instruments for a better development of such measures.

Both the multidimensional disadvantages related to the access to quality education and the gap in the mutual understanding between Roma families and professionals, are especially pronounced among Romani people from Eastern EU countries (i.e. Romania and Bulgaria) living in Western EU. During the last 20 years these migrant groups experienced a high transnational mobility characterized by strategies of settlement often characterized by poor housing conditions and a high residential mobility. This, in conjunction with the lack of schooling of the first migrant generation, negatively affects the schooling of Eastern EU Roma (EER) mobile/migrant children. Public bodies are not always prepared to respond to the multidimensional needs planted by these migrants. Many times, a racialized understanding of their educational and housing patterns serves as an alibi for not to consider the real motivations behind their exclusion. In a context characterized by a high politicization of the ‘Roma issue’, the success of ordinary and targeted inclusion policies closely depends on the way in which stakeholders comprehend certain social dynamics commonly or supposedly typifying EER groups (i.e. socio-economic exclusion, housing segregation, residential mobility). Therefore, it is extremely necessary to encourage a virtuous cycle of comparisons, debates and reflections among the most relevant actors facing EER exclusion, particularly emphasizing the role played by ethnicity in the development and implementation of inclusion policies.

Moving from these considerations, the REdHous NET project aims at:

  • reinforcing the commitment of all relevant actors for the integration of Roma trough the creation and expansion of a solid EU Network for the mutual policy learning and cooperation;
  • raising the awareness of decisional actors (i.e. policy makers, bureaucrats and public servants) vis-á-vis the most successful practices of coordination in the areas of education, housing and empowerment towards EER;
  • improving the capacity of the actors involved in the Network to implement in their territories successful actions of coordination in these fields, providing them with specific inputs, methodological tools and useful knowledges for the development of better policy frameworks;
  • monitoring and advocating the implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies towards EER migrantsin countries of the project partners.

During the life of the project, the consortium will meet the following specific needs:

  • create moments of encounter and contact, virtual and concrete, as well mutual learning opportunities for the exchange and comparison of experiences among the partners and other stakeholders vis-á-vis the local practices of coordination in education, housing and empowerment initiatives (i.e. capacity-building, participation, dialogue and mutual learning);
  • support the participation of regional, national and international bodies to the project/network activities in order to ensure a multi-level approach to the Roma-issue and encourage bottom-up-bottom debates and exchanges of information;
  • promote a virtuous cycle of debates and joint reflections vis-á-vis specific topics such as: the multi-level and intra-sectorial policy coordination; the state of art and quality of implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies towards EER migrants; the racialization of the educational, housing and empowerment practices towards EER migrants.

The creation, formalization and extension of an EU Network, which will assume the task to match these goals even after the life of the project, represents the central objective of our purpose. The Network will reproduce the conditions for a long-term bottom-up-bottom policy cooperation among all the stakeholders in order to develop a better practices and policy frameworks for the inclusion of EER migrants after the life of the project. It will comprise: national, regional and local public bodies; social research institutions; international agencies; civil society (including Romani) organizations.


Associated Partners

  • Dipartimento dei Servizi Sociali e della Salute del Comune di Roma (Rome, Italy);
  • Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona – EMIGRA Research Group (Spain);
  • University of Freiburg – COME Research Group (Germany);
  • Collectif Romeurope Nantes (France);
  • Municipality of Strazhitsa (Bulgaria);
  • IOM Lisbon (Portugal);
  • European Accademic Network on Romani Studies (EU);
  • Consejería de Educación, Junta de Andalucía (Spain);
  • Regione Umbria (Ital7);
  • Volkshilfe Österreich;
  • ACIDI – High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue.