'The right to education for Roma children in Romania' by Georgiana Dragu

23rd October 2007

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Tuesday 23 October 2007 19.00 – 21.00, The Romanian Cultural Centre, 8th floor, 54-62 Regent Street, London W1B 5RE; Tel. 020 7439 4052, ext 102; e-mail: mail@ratiufamilyfoundation.com; Entry is free but booking is essential. “Problems that Roma children face with regard to education range from de facto discrimination in schools that usually translates into segregation, a low level of enrollment due to lack of identity certificates (over 22% of Roma population), geographic isolation, lack of sufficient food and clothing (and school supplies) to attend classes, the process of decentralization, early marriage and early pregnancy among Roma girls etc. The available data still indicates a highly difficult situation for Roma children despite various actions undertaken by the Romanian government as well as by non-governmental organizations. There is a high percentage of drop-out and no enrollment in schools of Roma children: between 12-20% drop out of primary and secondary schools (Ministry of Education and Research), 18.3% never enroll into schools (Research Institute for the Quality of Life, 2002). Also, Roma children are more likely to abandon school than the majority of their peers (UNDP survey, 2005). The percentage of Roma who have no graduation certificates has risen in ten years from 25.1% to 34.3% and the number of illiterate Roma has increased from 57,100 to 104,737 (Save the Children Romania). The right to education is a prerequisite for the realisation of other human rights and it has been recognized as an empowerment right for economically and socially marginalized individuals (in this case, the Roma population). Hence, this presentation will attempt to analyse to what extent the state, with primary responsibility, is fulfilling its obligations in accordance with international human rights legal standards as enshrined in the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although the Romanian government has adopted several measures, there still remains a major and challenging gap between the de jure and de facto realisation of this right to education for Roma children in Romania.” (Georgiana Dragu) Georgiana Dragu has just completed her MA in Human Rights at University College London (School of Public Policy) which offered a wide perspective on human rights issues. She is especially interested in children’s rights and more specifically in their right to education as enshrined in the economic, social and cultural rights framework. Georgiana’s research interests are focused on the division between the de jure protection of human rights (i.e. the state’s compliance with the obligations) and de facto realisation (i.e. enjoyment of human rights). Georgiana has a BA in Social Communication (1998 – 2002) from the University of Bucharest, the Faculty of Letters with an ERASMUS scholarship at University of Bordeaux 3 (Michel de Montaigne); her practical experience includes working in communication before joining Save the Children Romania where she was introduced to children’s rights issues. Background in UK includes training and work as a volunteer with Children’s Society, New Londoners. David Webster, Director of the Anglo-Romanian Economic and Political Forum, will chair the discussions. Organised by The Ratiu Foundation UK www.ratiufamilyfoundation.com; www.romanianculturalcentre.org.uk