Better education key to breaking roma poverty cycle


A recent EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s report on ‘Transition from Education to Employment of Young Roma in Nine EU Member States’ (July 2018) explores the factors that are holding Roma back from receiving a good education and jobs. The analysis (2011-2017) focuses on nine EU Member States: Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.

It compares the situation in these EU countries between 2011 and 2016. The report shows that employment for young Roma, particularly women, has scarcely improved, although education is slightly better.

Indeed, living in overcrowded housing, in segregated areas or at risk of poverty tends to increase the chances of young Roma leaving school before finishing upper secondary or vocational education. As 80% of Roma are at risk of poverty, addressing poverty is key to helping Roma achieve better in education.

For young Roma aged 16-24 the situation is particularly acute; as many as two-thirds of young Roma are not in work, education or training. This is over three times the level of similar age groups among the general population in the countries FRA focused on.

Traditional gender roles also play a role. For example, there are twice as many working Roma men as women. This underlines the importance of providing early childhood education and care to allow more Roma woman to work.

The analysis also underscores how education can help Roma escape the poverty cycle. As increasingly more Roma women are being higher educated, it appears they are more likely than men to be in skilled permanent work.

ETUCE constantly emphasises the persisting concern on early school leaving and segregation among Roma students. A better and inclusive education can help break Roma gender stereotypes; find fair and more secure jobs;  fight against anti-Gypsyism prejudices and prevent labour discrimination and lower employment prospects which result in poorer jobs with less job security, benefits and pay.

With the view to promoting Roma educational inclusion, ETUCE conducted an EU project on “Developing non-discriminatory quality education for Roma children”.