DESCRIPTION OF THE EXPERIENCE
School has a great importance for gypsy children. It practically represents the only way to escape from the vicious circle of social exclusion: poverty, indifference towards school, illiteracy, unemployment.
Unfortunately, the attitude of gypsies towards school and education is still a negative one. When it is not compulsory, formal education is rejected by gypsies even if it is free, such as kindergarten, high school, vocational school or public universities. School is not seen as having a contribution to social and professional improvement, but rather as a way of escaping the comunity, to belong to the „white” population. School is not relevant, the financial resources being used by the family and not for school.
These sorts of aspects represent a reason of social exclusion, as those who don’t go to school are deprived from the possibility to be part of the working class in the future and to have a better life.
- case detection;
I have also studied the documents and the data from children’s and their families’ social files.
I have chosen information for three subjects. My research lasted for five years, during my activity in the educational process. I have studied every case, using different strategies, such as: the observation, the interview.
CASE STUDY NO. 1
FLORENTINA is a nine year-old gypsy girl. She comes from a big family and she has three brothers and two sisters. They live together in a small house, having inappropriate conditions of living. Her family is very poor.
Florentina is a first grade pupil at the local village school. She has repeated the first school year, because of illnesses and poverty.
Although this year she went to school regularly, Florentina could not fit in the class, because her classmates exclude her and call her „a poor, dirty gypsy”.
Therefore, little Florentina is one of the cases of gypsies’ social exclusion. This is caused both by ethnic stigma and the poverty, but also by ignorance and indifference.
CASE STUDY NO. 2
Ion and Bubulina Mocanu live in the gypsy community from Slobozia village. They have three children: Andrei – Roby, Stefan and Esmeralda. The boys are in the fourth and in the third grade and Esmeralda goes to „Alexandru cel Bun” High School. She told me that she is not going to go to school anymore. She considers that she does not have enough information for her final exams and she does not have a place to live anymore. The headmaster wanted to prevent that she quit school and she received social and psychological asssitance. We convinced her to prepare herself for her final exams, which she successfully graduated. After the exams, Esmeralda tried to find a stable job, to ensure herself a decent living. Esmeralda is now proud that she gratuated high school and that she can help her family. She also convinced her brothers her little brothers that they must study, she took them to „Centrul de Zi”. We communicate, we collaborate, she believes in me, she is a real friend.
A place to live
The Mocanu family and their underaged children live in a very small house made from clay and straw and covered with cardboard, with only one room and a hall. They have poor hygienic conditions and they do not have a decent way of living. Therefore, Esmeralda had to move to Botosani and live with a relative, in order to go to high school. The financial sources are the unemployment benefits and the allowances.
CASE STUDY NO. 3
MARIN is a 23 year - old young man and he is also a gypsy. He has two sisters and a brother, all younger than him. Their parents died when he was 18. Grandchildren take care of them, but Marin earns the money for their house, he works in the village and he collects recyclable materials. They live in a small, but clean house.
Marin has recently decided to find a stable job, to ensure a decent living for his family. However, he has been rejected and humiliated, he has not been accepted because “he is not trustworthy” and “gypsies are not employed”.
He has not fallen into desperation, he has been looking for a job, hoping that he will find someone who will cross this limits. And he has been. In the present, Marin is going to the evening high school.
One can send the most effective messages about the consequences and the dangers of employing children through schools and teachers.
Day Centres offers social and psychological assistance in special places from schools or high schools, in order to keep children in school and to avoid school abandonment. They also prevent family abandonment.
Difficult life conditions, bad health, hard access to education and identity crisis, plus discrimination endanger the existence of the gypsy nation and their possibility to affirmation. The best solution to improve the gypsy situation is to help them on every plan.
Concerning educational topics:
- the answers to the school needs of the gypsy population does not usually exist. In most cases, social actors who fight the most against finding a local solution are schools themselves. This attitude is supported by the schools rules or by the central education politics.
- many children find it difficult to fit in because they do not speak an appropriate language and therefore they are sent to special schools, although they are able to handle a normal school schedule.
- parents’ hesitation to send their children to school is caused more by poverty than by being gypsies.
- we can observe gypsy parents’ lack of education, they do not understand the importance of school.
- there are many cases of discrimination from teachers who negatively influence the other children’s actions.
Concerning the identity aspect:
- there are prejudices, racism and xenophobia, discrimination on the one hand and the way the gypsies judge themselves on the other hand.
- the identity is very important with the gypsies, not as much concerning language, but concerning the group unity towards the people who see gypsies as a threat.
- the ignorance towards the uniqueness of gypsy culture – their values, their traditions and diversity.
- health is influenced by the living conditions and by poverty. We can also observe the general exclusion of gypsies from society.
- in Romania, due to some researches, it was shown that mortality level is higher among gypsies; there are no appropriate hygienic conditions, which cause diseases, for which a doctor is not required. Gypsies consider that doctors are hostile towards them. They also can't pay their medical insurance and they use empirical methods of healing.