“I used to think, I didn’t finish school, why would my children have to?” says Ifet*, father of 9 year-old Muamera* and 7 year-old Muamer*.Today, he stands for his children’s education.
“I care for education of my children, especially my daughter’s. Often you will see that Roma girls are left out from education, but it is really important to me that she gets good education. I want her to be independent, because Roma girls are often suffering because they don’t finish their education. After six months going to the workshops, I was able to help my girl to learn to write and read. Now, she reads to me. She was behind her schoolmates, but we managed to catch up. Now my children skip school only if they are ill,” tells us Ifet*.
The workshops he mentions were conducted through Save the Children’s intervention in selected municipalities aimed to increase access to quality inclusive education for the most vulnerable girls and boys and develop models that will prevent their early school dropout and social exclusion. The workshops were designed to increase parents’ capacities to give their children necessary support in order for them to stay in education system and complete primary school education.
“I want Muamera* to finish primary school and then high school as well. There is one high school close by, so we would manage financially. For Muamer, we will see, he has some difficulties, but Muamera* helps him a lot. She helps him with learning letters and other things. My only wish is that they both finish primary and high school. I always tell my daughter, if you practice, you will learn something. And she does that, she practices a lot. She can now do the math and I helped her to get there. This is something I learned at the workshops,” proudly says Ifet*.
Muamera* is now a third-grader and a good student.
“My favourite subject is Bosnian language, I like it because we read a lot. I like (children’s) poetry. At home, after I finish my homework for school, I help my mum with housework. I also play with my friend, and sometimes she comes to my house and we do homework together,” tells Muamera* about her daily routine. She also helps her brother with homework. “We play the school, I’m his teacher and I’m giving him tasks to do.”
In the future she wants to be a make-up artist. For now, she has to settle to practice with her mother’s make-up, when she is allowed. “When I get good grades, she gives me her make-up to play with, when I get low grades, there’s no make-up.”
Muamera* is working hard to make good accomplishments in school, but her parents and school staff are worried about her health.
“Muamera* is a smart girl and she really needs support from her environment to continue on her way to better future. She has some health issues, she is underweight and she currently undergoes some medical tests, as she continuously loses weight. Her father is very active in the community, he is advocating for education of Roma children, and he is also a regular participant of the workshops we organize for parents within the project supported by Save the Children, stresses primary school Musa Cazim Catic pedagogue Ismeta Begic, adding that Ifet* is a positive example of not giving up and fighting for education of Roma children.
Muamera’s parents are unemployed and have no regular income. During the summers, they work on nearby farms picking fruits and vegetables earning some money that way. Ifet* sees education as part of the solution and he is now very active in the Roma community, trying to motivate parents to send their children to school regularly.
After Save the Children’s intervention, situation with Roma children’s school attendance in primary school Musa Cazim Catic improved. Through the project, this school received necessary equipment to increase accessibility and engagement possibilities for Roma children in order to ensure their better development and progress. Roma students received school bags and basic school equipment. Special training programs were organized for their teachers in order to better respond to their needs. And, lastly, workshops were organized for their parents to tackle all ongoing issues and help them provide better support to their children in the education process.
Inclusive and Quality Education for Roma Girls and Boys is a three-year project implemented since 2016 in 10 communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B-H) and Serbia. It tackles issues such as exclusion, discrimination and difficulties in access to basic services – education, health and social welfare – for Roma children and their families.
“The intervention, while mainstreaming non-discrimination and equal opportunities in all activities, pays particular attention to out-of-school Roma girls whose access to quality of education will be measurably improved, and to women/young mothers in settlements who will be empowered to become equal partners in promoting and sustaining their children’s learning.“ explains Save the Children Country Director Andrea Zeravcic.
With this project, Save the Children and partner schools and education institutions aim to increase access to quality inclusive pre-school and primary school education for the most vulnerable girls and boys and develop models that will prevent their early school dropout and social exclusion. Through the project implementation, accelerated learning program is provided for children left behind in Tuzla Canton in order to compensate for the missed time in school so that children can swiftly return to the regular education program.
The first two years of the project implementation included 60 schools, 28,478 students and 3372 parents as direct beneficiaries of the project. Moreover, 1149 education professionals participated in specialised training programs that enabled them to provide Roma students with learning assistance that meets their education and other needs. Such activities will contribute to reducing school dropout risk.
Project also aims to raise public awareness about negative effects of exclusion of Roma children and families, as well as about importance of equal access to quality education for #EveryLastChild, especially girls.