FRA: Covid-19 sorely impacted Roma and Travellers


A new FRA bulletin reveals the severe impact of COVID-19 on Roma and Traveller students who remain excluded from educational activities due to the lack of electronic devices and limited access to internet and electricity. The FRA urges governments on the implementation of immediate and long-term policies to tackle the issue. In the view of the incoming EU post-2020 Roma equality and inclusion policy and in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, ETUCE calls for measures explicitly supporting Roma and Travellers inclusion in education and highlights the importance of the education system as part of the wider social support system, including additional financial and professional support.

As already shown in the FRA annual report on Fundamental Rights in Europe, ethnic minorities are regularly victims of discrimination, harassments and inequalities.  
Now, the evidence shows the Covid-19 displayed its worst effects on communities that already lived in conditions of poverty, social exclusion and limited access to hygiene, health care and education services. FRA data shows that an increasing number of Roma and Travellers are currently excluded from the educational activities due to the lack of electronic devices and limited access to internet and electricity. For example, a survey conducted in Spain shows that only the one third of Roma and Traveller students were equipped with electronic devices. In Czechia, half of the students did not take part in distance learning, while, in Slovakia, the majority of Roma students did not have access to internet. Following the pandemic lockdown of the educational institutions, the early school leaving rate among Roma and Traveller students has also increased. Some Member States attempt to ensure the participation of students with socio-economically disadvantaged background in online distance-learning activities by issuing additional regulations or funding (e.g. Bulgaria, Romania, Ireland), but the responsibility to apply for this support remain largely with the families and schools. Furthermore, the lack of data disaggregated by ethnic origin prevents an assessment of the impact of these measures.

In a recent Statement on Roma inclusion, ETUCE underlines that providing high-quality education is crucial for eliminating poverty and ending the exclusion of Roma and Travellers. In view of the adoption of the EU post-2020 Roma equality and inclusion Policy expected for the end of the year, ETUCE calls on the European Commission and the Member States to develop and implement educational policies explicitly targeting Roma students at every educational stage, with a focus on early-childhood education, including monitoring of the enrolment, attendance and educational outcomes of Roma students. Furthermore, national governments provide practical and urgent solutions to socio-economic and other non-educational challenges faced by Roma and Travellers communities, including housing, living standards, health and safety, as well as traditional gender roles, that have a strong impact on access and participation in education and labour market, especially in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.