The rash of Roma children in the educational system in the Republic of North Macedonia

According to the data of the State Statistics Office, at the beginning of the 2022/2023 school year, the number of students in regular elementary schools is 185,099, which represents a decrease of 0.8% compared to the previous school year.

But for the Roma population in the Republic of Macedonia, that number is even more alarming. In primary education, the achievements of Roma students are worryingly low, proven by international tests. In 2015, the average score of 384 points in science, compared to 493 points in the OECD countries (OECD, 2016), indicates that students at the age of 15 from our country are four years behind their peers from the OECD countries.

An additional challenge in primary education is the lack of content in textbooks that would promote multicultural/intercultural education. The challenges outlined in the concept of primary education affect Roma students doubly. According to the 2017 UNDP regional Roma survey, the enrollment of Roma children in primary education is 78% compared to 88% of non-Roma.

The exact number of Roma students who are outside the education system is unknown. A large percentage of dropouts, that is, dropping out of education, and the low level of literacy among children of Roma ethnicity are also evident. The most common reasons for this situation are: the insufficient knowledge of the Macedonian language, the low level of education of the parents and the poor socio-economic situation of the family.

An example in primary education for Roma students at the state level

Educational

  I class

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VIII

IX

2016/17

1497

1332

1099

1115

941

946

840

811

747

2017/18

1361

1583

1253

1048

1037

964

861

691

696

2018/19

1441

1399

1420

1147

912

1044

785

758

596

2019/20

1574

1574

1310

1361

1064

977

819

701

644

Note: The data are from the State Statistics Office of the Republic of Macedonia

According to the data in the first grade in the last 4 years, an average of about 1468 children are enrolled, while in the ninth grade, an average of about 670 students are registered. These data show a decrease in the number of children from one school year to another school year by about 6%.

There are several reasons for this: emigration of Roma families to Western European countries, lack of personal documentation, segregation even in the earliest stages of education and in some parts of the country and lack of organized or public transport from Roma settlements (which are usually far away from educational institutions).

In addition, during 2020, the realization of online teaching caused the difficulty of the educational process for Roma children. Many Roma children who are part of families at social risk were not able to attend classes due to the fact that they did not have electronic devices (computer, tablet, smartphone) and internet network. According to the Regional Roma Survey, 42% of Roma have access to a computer compared to 72% of non-Roma.

Some of the textbooks are outdated and contain stereotypes, prejudices, stigmatization and they lack elements of coexistence, respect for diversity, integration, multiculturalism, which is further complicated by the demotivating legislation for making and revising textbooks.

In the context of raising the level of education in primary education, the Roma community also needs to improve secondary education. It is necessary to implement without delay the decision regarding the quotas for enrollment of Roma high school students, i.e. extra points. The same remark is in studying.

Otherwise, in this context, I would not mention the contribution of the Roma political bloc and Roma leaders, because their capacity and political power is equal to zero. So far, not a single example has shown any movement forward, especially not in the field of education among the Roma community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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