Lifelong Learning Programme

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School and changing the Dynamics of cultural organization: the case of a Gipsy community
Vieira, Maria Madalena Cardoso Falcoeira
Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Departamento de Ciências Sociais Aplicadas
Lisbon, 2008
Integration of immigrants students
This research project explores the dynamics of organization of a Gipsy community and its expectations for the future. The main objective of the research project is to contribute to a better understanding about the will to change and the capacity for change of this ethnic group given their low schooling rate and their lack of professional experience in a world that is changing at a very fast rate.
Conceptually and theoretically a brief summary of the origin of this people, with roots in India, is presented, followed by contributions of national and international experts on the subject of inclusion and exclusion of the gipsy community from the various social domains, with a particular emphasis on school attendance.
The study offers a case study of a group of thirty gipsy people, of different ages and covering both sexes, with recourse to empirical research in two different phases. During the first phase, o qualitative research, the aim was to know, through interviews, what individuals thought of school now and in the future. The second phase, of a quantitative nature, analysed the variables that characterise each individual (age, gender, school qualifications) and the variables that enable understanding of the identity of the social group identity, by identifying trends within the defined sample.
The data gathered showed that the group wanted to change some intrinsic cultural values, but had no capacity to undertake it. It is society which will have to play a fundamental role to enhance that desired change.
This study was selected because themes like schooling, participation of Gipsies in school life an in society, as well as inclusion are all issues that have been approached in social terms but that still present major challenges.
Nowadays, with all the social, economic and political changes, it is important to promote more success at school of Gipsies, as well as their full social and cultural integration. In order to achieve that it is crucial to identify whether there is a desire for change among the Gipsy community.
This study highlights the need for similar studies in order to understand this kind of problems. Studies like this are socially and academically relevant for those who, in schools, take part in the integration of this particular minority. The study therefore presents some of the features to be adopted to become democratic and intercultural places, capable of recognizing and including differences. It is indeed a study which reinforces the need to fight off social inequalities, promotion and respect for cultural diversity, and the questioning of mono-cultural stances. It promotes the development of curricular and social justice as a means to integrate all.
It is true that societies still experience difficulties connected to integration of those that are different and sometimes demonstrates its incapacity to deal with difference. However, in order to act one has to know the several social, economic, cultural, educative, and familial dynamics of Gipsy children.
The study reinforces also the problem of school absenteeism in relation to Gipsy children, which is closely linked to community ways of living, and questions the rights of children to education as a right that has to be defended.
While at school and in the direct contact with students there is a favourable environment for the pedagogical, academic and social development of children, at home and within the family, children experience poverty and insecurity. The study thus highlights the teacher-student relationship as one that is professional and simultaneously affective, based on ties of friendship with the children as well as respect, honesty and solidarity to their families.
It is therefore of the utmost importance to make a detailed analysis of the integration difficulties of the Gipsy community in society in order to build proposals to eradicate social exclusion. Though there is a history and cultural modes of living, which are ingrained in this ethnic group, it is argued that schools may work together with it. It is not enough for the Gipsy community to desire to change; society itself has to trust this group.
Name of Compiler
Catarina Louro
Name of Institution
Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco
Role in the institution
Junior Researcher

20 December 2014

Final Partners’ meeting

The fourth partners’ meeting took place in Florence (IT) on 15 December 2014. The meeting had the objective to check the activities carried out since the third meeting of the project and share and assess the in progress results. A special focus has been dedicated to the presentation of the strategies to solve the case scenarios.