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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 3 April 2014

Education is the only way out of poverty and exclusion for Roma

Around 90% of Roma pupils leave school before the completing their studies in Member States such as the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. In some of these countries, around 50% of Roma children are in segregated schools.

Tomorrow (4 April), Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will discuss what the EU is doing to help address this problem and other issues which affect Roma integration when she takes part in the European Roma Summit in Brussels.

"Providing quality education for all is not only a question of human rights. It is the only way out of poverty and exclusion for millions of Roma. I find it unacceptable that in some countries around half of all Roma pupils are in special schools. We have to join forces to fight segregation and discrimination, including by looking at the way in which schools are funded, set up and operated," said Commissioner Vassiliou ahead of the event.

Since 2011, Roma education integration measures have been implemented across the EU with the support of the European Social Fund and the former Lifelong Learning Programme.

In addition, the ROMED programme, jointly funded by the European Commission and Council of Europe, has trained around 1 300 Roma mediators whose aims include encouraging Roma families to keep their children in education until the completion of their studies.

In 2013-2014, the European Commission is allocating €1 million for 'ROMED II', with a special emphasis on promoting the role and influence of women, in contacts between Roma communities and local municipalities and as mediators for young girls.

The European Roma Summit will also take stock of how national Roma strategies are being implemented and if they are improving the life of Roma communities. The event will be streamed live online.

Other speakers at the event will include European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, the President of Romania Traian Băsescu, Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria Zinaida Zlatanova and Ministers and State secretaries from nine other EU Member States. Non-government speakers include George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Foundations and Zoni Weisz, survivor from the Roma holocaust (see IP/14/317).

Last month, Commissioner Vassiliou visited a number of education projects in the Roma communities of Bucharest with Mr Soros and Remus Pricopie, the Romanian Minister of Education.

For more information

European Roma Summit

EU and Roma


European Social Fund

Androulla Vassiliou's website

Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58); Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

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