Using educational initiatives, Roma Learning to Fly is helping to break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness among the Roma so that they might thrive and have the opportunity to fully contribute to their communities. Key initiatives are centered around Digital Village Learning Centers.
Digital Village Learning Centers
Roma Learning to Fly is launching Digital Village Learning Centers in Roma communities to help prepare Roma children for success in school. These Centers are designed to provide tools, remediation, coaching, and mentoring for Roma parents and students to help maximize academic success.
Two key initiatives are supported by the Centers:
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About the Centers
The Roma Learning to Fly team has a heart for Roma youth and believes there is an urgency to providing access to tools, mentoring, and educational support to this at-risk and under-represented group. In partnership with Roma and Slovak community leaders, this vision has resulted in the creation of digitally enabled community centers, called Digital Village Learning Centers, in key locations in Slovakia.
Each Center is being launched in a village or camp with a high percentage of Roma children and will include computers, wireless capability, and the capacity for video conferencing. The Centers will house educational resources and provide support for key Roma Learning to Fly educational initiatives.
The first Digital Learning Centers are being established in Vtackovce, Sabinov, and Slavosovce. (See map.)
Why education? Understanding the need
In Slovakia, where the Roma people are 8% of the population, chronic school failures for children and 90% unemployment of Roma adults is the norm. European Roma leaders agree that a key component to a bright future for the Roma people is educational improvement.
Roma kids often enter school without knowing basic skills such as the alphabet or with limited proficiency in the Slovak language teachers use to instruct. As a result, 40% of Roma kids end up in “special schools,” the equivalent of special education. After nine years, most students have the equivalent of a fourth grade education, with little future hope of job prospects. Most have experienced significant discrimination beginning with the school evaluation process where the lack of preparation is often seen as long term learning disability.
In 2014, the EU Education and Training Monitor described this phenomenon as “processes of assessment which unjustly perceive some children as less educable than others and lead to organizational segregation.”
Studies conducted by the United Nations, the Council of Europe and Amnesty International further describe the challenges for Roma youth as a result of substandard education. “Romani children across Slovakia remain trapped in a school system that keeps failing them as a result of widespread discrimination” states David Diaz – Jogeix, Amnesty International’s Europe Deputy-Director. “It deprives Romani children of equal opportunities and sentences them to a life of poverty and marginalization,” he added, “Segregation in education means a life-long stigma for children whose future chances are brutally limited.
This is the setting in which Digital Village Learning Centers will make a real and lasting change, in conjunction with key educational initiatives and strong community partnerships.
More projects by Roma Learning to Fly: