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Roma parents in Slovenia are seeing the value of early education and care

In the period between the end of 2021 and spring 2022, National REYNs conducted research in their own countries on the situation of Roma families with young children (REYN Research Study). In Slovenia, the Educational Research Institute led this unique process in the country, which implied involving members of the Roma community along the development of the study. They gathered data from Roma parents, ECEC practitioners, professionals who work with Roma families, and from local and national policy makers.

In this article, we would like to highlight some interesting information obtained through questionnaires and focus groups with Roma parents. Mothers and fathers from Prekmurje and Dolenjska, two Slovenian regions with large populations of Roma, participated in the research which examined various topics, such as health and wellbeing, hygiene and nutrition, play and early learning, responsive parenting, family and living conditions, safety and security, and accessibility, availability and affordability of ECEC services. The main focus of this piece will be on how Roma parents feel about early childhood education and care.

Through the research it became evident that Roma parents are aware of the significant impact that they have on their children in the early years. This is illustrated by one of the fathers who said, “If I were to raise my voice to my wife, the children would hear us and this is not right. What kind of a message am I sending to my children with such behaviour?”

The parents also demonstrated an awareness of the importance of being caring and attuned to their children’s needs. It is important for parents to show affection to their children through a caring attitude, talking to them, and spending quality time with them. Especially for younger children, who cannot yet express themselves verbally, it is very important that parents do their best to interact and connect with the child in order to understand what it is they need. Many parents — mainly mothers — confirmed that they had no problems understanding their children and that they had a feel for what their children wanted to tell them. “A mother just feels what the child needs,” one mother said.

The value of preschool

We often emphasize how important it is for parents to view education as a value and to enrol their children in preschool early — enabling them access to quality education and care, and a supportive learning environment.

Participants in the studies agreed that attending preschool indeed supports children’s development. They witnessed advantages in the children in their acquiring a new language, understanding the daily routine, learning about tolerance and good manners, as well as improving their independence during meals (table preparation, serving the food, cleaning the table after eating etc.), hygiene, and dressing. Additionally, parents recognised that in preschool, children are able to make new friends, and learn how to act in society. All of these skills help children have a smoother transition into school.

Another huge benefit parents in the research saw in preschool education was that it gave their children an opportunity to learn the language of the majority. This is one of the most important factors in helping children to be successful later in school. Otherwise, it is likely that they would have difficulties with understanding the teachers’ lessons, their learning outcomes would be lower, and peers might tease them. All of these things have an impact on the child’s development and level of self-esteem.

Furthermore, some parents were inspired by the amount of effort that certain teachers and peers put into helping their children feel welcome at preschool. One couple shared that, ”Our daughter could not speak Slovene, when she entered school. One boy really tried to help her with the language as much as he could understand her. Then her teacher decided to attend a Romani language course to be able to help our children. All of us respected this noble decision. We also had another teacher, who regularly took our children to the playground and worked with them on their physical condition.”

However, there were also parents who expressed uncertainty about preschool. They feared that their children might not be given as much care as they receive home. For other parents it is difficult to take their children to preschool due to their demanding living conditions. In such cases, it is the duty of REYN Slovenia and the other national REYNs to work for and with these parents with the aim of empowering them, gaining their trust, and ensuring adequate conditions to enable them to enrol their children in preschool as early as possible. 

Authors:
Petra Zgonec, Mateja Mlinar
Researchers at the Educational Research Institute, coordinating institution of REYN Slovenia

The condition of Roma and Sinti early childhood in Italy

The position of Roma and Sinti communities in Italy is a direct consequence of various migratory flows that have affected the country from the 15th century to the early 2000s.[1] As a result of these flows, it is possible to identify 22 communities of  Roma and Sinti populations.

As it is impossible to carry out censuses on an ethnic basis in Italy, there are no concrete numbers about the members of the different groups. According to the Council of Europe, the number of Roma and Sinti living in Italy could be between 110,000 and 170,000.[2] However, only a small proportion of them live in a condition of hypervisibility because they reside in formal camps —settlements designed, built and managed by local authorities according to ethnic criteria — and informal settlements.

Formal and informal settlements

The latest report presented last November 4th in the Senate by Associazione 21 Luglio states that 11,300 people live in the 109 formal camps on national soil — half of them hailing from former Yugoslavia. Of these, some have Italian citizenship and others have Romanian citizenship.[3] There are also 6,500 people, with Romanian or Bulgarian citizenship, living in informal settlements.

Without precise data relating to those Roma and Sinti people who have ostensibly integrated into Italian society (who live in conventional homes, do not wear traditional clothing, speak fluent Italian, and send their children to school), the only studies and analyses about the condition of Roma and Sinti early childhood in Italy refer to the 15% of Roma and Sinti living in mono-ethnic settlements — in conditions of extreme segregation, exclusion, physical and relational isolation. As a result, this group cannot be considered representative of the majority.

“The Campland”

Since 2000, Italy has been referred to by the European Roma Rights Center as “The Campland” because it has used by far the most economic and human resources to maintain ethnic-based housing arrangements of any country in Europe.[4] The daily realities of life in these formal and informal settlements makes the promotion of actions that affect childcare particularly complex. The absence of electricity and drinking water, air pollution, living inside a caravan or container, the absence of safe spaces for play, economic precariousness, real and perceived exclusion, distance from the school, are all elements that hinder the healthy growth and development of a child from birth.

In such residential contexts the social elevator remains stuck. From birth, the fate of Roma and Sinti children is influenced and guided by these harsh statistics. According to a study conducted in 2016 by Associazione 21 Luglio, the life of a child born within a mono-ethnic settlement immediately appears to be an “obstacle race”.[5]

For example:

  •  A Roma child who lives in a formal or informal settlement in the city of Rome is 30-40% more likely to be estranged from their family and declared adoptable that a non-Roma child.
  • The practice of early marriage has strong physical, intellectual, psychological and emotional repercussions among the adolescents involved;
  • Children, known as “white orphans” — who are left behind in Romania when their parents emigrate to Italy in search of jobs and resources that will help give their children a better future — experience strong repercussions on nutrition, sanitation and psycho-physical development in the absence of a maternal care giver.
  • In 2015 in Italy, an average of 40 children, aged between 0 and 3, led a life as “prisoners” in jail with their mothers. The majority of these were of Roma origin.

From the limited data available, it appears that children in “Roma camps”[6] have a shorter life expectancy and higher infant mortality than the reference populations. They are born underweight more often than other children and suffer from respiratory diseases in greater numbers than their non-Roma peers. Moreover, these children  are often affected by poisoning, burns and domestic accidents. Discomfort or degradation diseases or “diseases of poverty” are increasing — such as tuberculosis, scabies, pediculosis, as well as viral, fungal, and venereal infections, which occur with ever greater frequency than in the past[7].

Associazione 21 Luglio has developed a full website to present the state of affairs of the camps in Italy. Navigate throughout Il Paesi dei Campi (The Campland).

How is REYN Italy responding to these challenges?

The work of REYN Italy and other organizations in this network has been pivotal in promoting equal rights for Roma children over the past few years. However, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the cohesion, sense of belonging and functionality of the Italian network. It is, therefore, necessary to reinforce and rebuild the REYN Italy which, in turn, will have a significant impact on the lives of Roma children living in Italy.

That’s why we plan to:

  • build cohesion and participation inside the REYN Italy network while increasing the number of its members. REYN Italy aims at revitalizing, reinforcing and broadening its membership, and engaging institutions such as municipalities, schools, health and family counselling centers.
  • advocate for access to inclusive, quality and non-discriminatory early childhood development for Roma children. In the Italian context, these objectives are crucial in continuing to promote and facilitate the social change that we are seeing in regards to Roma settlements with knock-on effects on their standards of living, and the protection of the rights of Roma children.

In order to support the rights and lives of Roma children, REYN Italy activities will highlight among decision-makers the need to guarantee, protect and promote the rights of Roma children.


[1] The Sinti are to be found primarily in the German-speaking regions (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) where they settled in the 15th century, and in Benelux and Sweden. There is a southern sub-branch of the Sinti in northern Italy (Piemont, Lombardy) and in southeastern France (Provence), whose language comprises a partly Italian-based vocabulary. In France, they are also called Manush. Sinti/Manush represent 2 to 3% of the total Roma population (generic sense) in Europe.

[2]   http://www.coe.int/t/dg3/romatravellers/default_en.asp.

[3]   Associazione 21 luglio, L’esclusione nel tempo del Covid, Roma, 2021.

[4]   ERRC, “Campland”, Budapest, 2000. http://www.errc.org/uploads/upload_en/file/00/0F/m0000000F.pdf

[5]   Associazione 21 luglio, Uscire per sognare, 2016.

[6] Some Roma in Italy live in a state of separation from mainstream Italian society. These Roma live segregated on ethnic basis in some areas, excluded and ignored, in filthy and squalid conditions, without basic infrastructure. They “squat” abandoned buildings or set up camps along the road or in open spaces with tents, caravans or shacks. They can be evicted at any moment, their settlements are often called “illegal” or “unauthorised”. Other Roma live in “camps” or squalid ghettos that are “authorised and provided with caravans or prefebricated buildings”. The smaller camps, home to only fifteen to thirty people, are generally unauthorised. Authorised camps tend to comprise at least one hundred people.

[7]UNAR, Strategia Nazionale per l’Inclusione dei Rom sinti e caminanti, Roma, 2012.

Smoothing the Transition of Roma Children from the Trailer Park to School

In the city of Leuven, Belgium, many initiatives have been taken over the years to increase the participation of children of the Rom Traveller[1] families in the nearby schools. The efforts of different welfare organizations ensured that by September of 2021 90% of the Rom children were present by the start of the new school year. Various efforts contributed to this success, including exchange visits organized by REYN Belgium and providing insights and inspiration from the REYN network. The strength of the experience in Leuven is that different social organizations work together towards the same purpose: to ensure that Roma children attend school regularly and feel comfortable there, and that there is good school-parent cooperation. 

At the residential trailer park in Leuven, 30 Rom Traveller families are living permanently. The city of Leuven has made a conscious decision to invest in the establishment of social support services for the Rom families. In concrete terms, this means that two employees of the city are responsible for the entire functioning of the trailer park in consultation with the Rom families. As the employees of the city of Leuven are regularly present at the trailer park, trust has been formed between the families and them over time. Two staff members are the Roma families’ point of contact for support questions in different areas of life. Because of the diversity of questions, there was the need to start a broader network of social professionals. This network –  the so-called ROL team – consists of staff from Agency Child and Family, staff from the family support organization ‘De Mobil’ and social workers from the public centre for social welfare . With this group, two times a week they organize on-site consultations. In this way, they can take concrete action with regard to the families’ requests for support on different life domains, each on the basis of their own expertise. They work together with partners on housing, health, leisure activities for the youngsters. More and more parents by now are convinced that these services might be beneficial for them and their children and are willing to make contact.

Residential trailer park in Leuven

Involving parents in the transition

These partners are also involved in creating smooth and warm transitions from home to the schools in the neighborhoud, and they do it by motivating and reassuring families along the process.

A couple of years ago, members from the family support organization ‘De Mobil’ started to regularly organize a play-and-meet-moment for young parents and their young children (0-5 years). These pre-school activities are still going on where children can play with toys and games, while parents chat and discuss topics on education and family life. Parents can work out a picture book on their families, as a starting point for conversation. In the future, they will be able to lend the toys for a certain period. 

In organizing these activities on a regular basis, the professionals of ‘De Mobil’ have built a strong relationship with the families and have gained their trust. They also support the conversations between the parents themselves. One of the topics is going to school. Parents have many questions: how does it work, a school day? What do children there? How will the teachers react on children’s needs?

The staff of the local Agency Child an Family, who are also members of the ‘ROL team’ are involved in motivating and reassuring the families for school.

“While parents come to our consultation office for the medical check-up of their babies and toddlers, we talk about schooling. At first they think it’s too early for their child, but later they change their mind. We provide information on how to register, when school starts etc. Because they are not familiar with our education system, you’ve got to give them time.”

Hanne, nurse from Child and Family Agency

To put further trust in going to school and as an action due to the pandemic, two schools in Leuven took the initiative to  organize temporarily ‘homeschooling’. Two teachers came to the trailer park with lots of toys and playing-learning materials that are usually present in a toddler’s classroom.

“Parents have many concerns about the school: ‘What if my child is hungry or thirsty? Will somebody notice it and take care?’ By showing in their own environment how a toddler’s class is organized – with lots of toys and playful learning moments – they get acquainted with the benefits of schooling: ‘Look, it seems that he is just playing with little boxes, but he’s learning to count at the same time!’”

Lies, homeschooling teacher

Homeschooling had a positive effect. Parents and children got a better idea of what happens at school. They started to foster the idea of sending their children to school more regular and were more and more reassured that early school participation was important and an added value.

“The homeschooling period was a very good warming up, building positive experiences and gaining more trust in ‘the real thing’. Because of the support of many services and people, this was successful. Other practical problems still remain, such transportation to the school.”

Tim, social worker, city of Leuven

Due to these actions, the school supporting part of the project has been very successful: 90% of the children of the trailer park were attending school on September 1st, 2021. This is the result of many persistent actions of the ROL-team, two homeschooling teachers, other school teachers and directors.

“In August I went to visit all the families at the trailer park. You can call it a ‘motivation visit’. I wanted to prepare them that the first school day is coming. That helps a lot. On the first school days it is important to take away the worries of parents. We send them pictures and texts  to show them that their child is happy here and he’s got a lot of friends. Many parents can’t imagine their children sitting next to non-Travellers-children…”

Annick, school director

Thanks to the efforts of many, the transition from the trailer park to school is now much better. Still, it remains a precarious process, partly due to the corona pandemic, but there is much motivation among all partners to keep up the efforts when children talk about their experiences at school positively.


[1] Rom is one of the three groups of Roma population in Belgium. The other two are Travellers and Manouches/Sinti.

Up to 75% enrolment target for young Roma children in ECEC in Slovakia

Specific Steps of the Slovak Roma Inclusion Strategy 2030

The Strategy for Equality, Inclusion, and Participation of Roma 2030 was approved by the Slovak Government on 7 April 2021. This framework material forms the basis for action plans, which will always be drawn up for a three-year period, i.e., 2022-2024, 2025-2027, and 2028-2030. Representatives from REYN Slovakia have been actively involved in the development of the Strategy and Action Plans.

The Strategy is a framework document that defines the direction of public policies in order to achieve a visible change and improvement in the field of equality and inclusion of Roma in Slovakia. It presents a set of starting points and objectives that aim to stop the segregation of Roma communities and to make a significant positive turn in the social inclusion of Roma.

“The areas of employment, education, health, and housing are key to the fulfillment of the Strategy’s objectives, and special emphasis is also placed on stepping up interventions to combat anti-Roma racism,” state the submitters of the material from the Office of the Plenipotentiary of the Government of the Slovak Republic for Roma Communities.

The subsequent Action Plans propose measures in the same five priority areas that were previously stated in the Strategy.

Strategy and Action Plans

Education


The vision of the Strategy in the field of education is to increase the real participation of children from marginalized Roma communities in care and education. The share of the youngest Roma children under three years of age participating in early childhood education and care programs is to reach at least 30%.

“The proportion of Roma children aged 3-6 in pre-primary education is to be increased from the current 25 to 75%, ” the submitters state.

The Strategy also aims to halve the proportion of children from the marginalized Roma communities who repeat a year in primary or special primary schools, as well as halve the proportion of pupils from the marginalized Roma communities who drop out of school. Conversely, the proportion of Roma with completed upper secondary education is to be doubled to 45% for males and 40% for females.

In the education field, the proposed action plan focuses on the need to improve the results of children from marginalized Roma communities. Besides, it aims to improve the quality and number of teachers and assistants in the education of Roma pupils, to increase the capacity of schools and kindergartens in areas with Roma communities, and support measures for children and pupils from Roma communities with insufficient knowledge of Slovak, which is not their mother tongue.

Housing

The Strategy aims to eliminate significant inequalities in housing between members of the marginalized Roma communities and the majority population of Slovakia.

“By 2030, all residents of the marginalized Roma communities, and therefore all citizens and residents of the Slovak Republic without distinction, should have proper access to safe and potable water. Closely related to this challenge is the gradual legalization of technically compliant dwellings and the settlement of land on which illegal dwellings of marginalized Roma communities residents are located,” the material states. 

With regard to segregated settlements, the vision is to reduce the proportion of Roma living in segregated communities, as well as to reduce the total number of segregated settlements.

As stated in the proposal of the action plan, priority tasks in the area of housing are to reduce the number of illegal dwellings, to improve technical infrastructure and amenities in localities of marginalized Roma communities, but also to implement measures aimed at reducing residential segregation of Roma, for example through the promotion of rental housing in municipalities.

Employment

The Strategy aims to reduce the proportion of Roma aged 16 to 24 who are neither employed nor already in education from the current 68 to 40%, as well as to increase the employment rate of Roma aged 20 to 64 from the current 20 to 45%. In particular, the Strategy and its action plans will address the issue of Roma women’s employment, which is significantly lower than that of men.

The proposed action plan defines measures to increase the chances of Roma on the labor market, but also, for example, targeted support for equal access to self-employment and entrepreneurship, including social entrepreneurship, for persons from marginalized Roma communities.

Health

The global objective of the health strategy is to reduce health inequalities between Roma and the general population of the Slovak Republic, with the aim of reducing the gap in life expectancy between the general and Roma population by 50% over the course of a decade.

The tasks related to health in the action plan are designed to improve health conditions at the community level, and also aim to strengthen the professional qualifications of community health promotion workers.

Anti-Roma racism and support of participation

Besides, the Strategy sets targets for eliminating anti-Roma racism, with the ambition to halve the proportion of Roma who have felt discriminated against in the last 12 months. The Strategy will also use supportive anti-discrimination instruments to reduce the proportion of Slovak citizens who would not want a Roma neighbour from the current 54 to 20%. The aim is also to increase by 30% the confidence of Roma in the police.

In the proposed action plan, the section on combating discrimination against Roma and increasing their inclusion in mainstream society calls for anti-Roma racism to be legally recognized as a specific form of racism. One of the other measures proposed is to increase the participation of young Roma and Roma women in policy-making at all levels.

The Strategy and action plans were developed by thematic working groups in each area, with representation from different government departments and institutions, NGOs, the academic sector, and local authorities.

After a long period of participatory preparation of all materials, and a recent personal change on the position of the Plenipotentiary, the drafts of action plans proposing measures in five priority areas for the period 2022-2024 have been submitted by the Office of the Government of the Slovak Republic for the inter-ministerial comment procedure.

More information about the materials and recent developments can be found here.

Photo source: Facebook of Mrs. Andrea Bučková, former Plenipotentiary of the Government of the Slovak Republic for Roma Communities.

Roma Professionals in Slovenian Preschools

A research that analysed the number of Roma professionals in Early Education and Care (ECEC) and their employment possibilities was conducted by Slovenian REYN Network in 2018. According to the results, there were 12 Roma professionals employed in preschools in Slovenia, among which one preschool teacher, three preschool teacher assistants, and eight Roma assistants (additional person in preschool groups, which includes Roma children).

No opportunity to enter the ECD workforce

REYN Slovenia interviewed different Roma professionals – preschool teacher assistants and Roma assistants – and asked about their roles at work, cooperation with children, parents, and other co-workers. Besides, REYN Slovenia was interested to hear about the opportunities for professional development they have and any potential challenges they face in finding a job. Their responses showed that they do not feel being treated the same way as their non-Roma colleagues.

“I wish that the society was aware that I am equally qualified for my job as other teacher assistants,” said one of them.

Moreover, many of them expressed frustration about the fact that there are educated Roma professionals who have difficulties finding a job in preschool.

“There are at least six girls with an adequate education in our settlement, who are interested in entering the ECD workforce, but they do not get the opportunity,” shared another Roma colleague.

REYN Slovenia gathered further information on the situation of Roma professionals in preschool through focus groups with 13 leaders from nine different preschools. Discussions were focused on the changes that need to be implemented to enable employment opportunities for Roma professionals and the role of preschool principals in this process.

The outcomes of these debates confirmed the significance of Roma professionals being present in the preschool group, in which the Roma children are also included during:

  • the introductory period when children are newly enrolled in a preschool group:
    • “When children enter preschool for the first time, they feel scared, uncomfortable. Some of them are not familiar with a new language. This can lead to shock, distress, which children do not understand. If there is at least one familiar person to whom they can return to and be comforted by, this transition can be much easier for them.”
  • the transition from preschool to school:
    • “The presence of Roma assistants in preschools can be mostly noticed in the phase of changing the learning environment from preschool to school. They know me already, our relationship is completely different, more relaxed, trustful.”
  • building trust with parents:
    • “My presence in the group has largely contributed to the fact that the parents trust us more, there are more children being enrolled in preschool than in the past.”
  • understanding the Roma language and culture.

Guidelines on tackling the challenges with employment

The research also indicated some challenges that Roma professionals are facing in their professional lives. They mainly refer to their limited possibilities of being involved in the whole process of work in preschool, in fewer opportunities for continuous professional development and fewer opportunities for acquiring the desired employment.

This research resulted in a developed report and guidelines on how to tackle the challenges in employing Roma professionals in our preschools, which was also presented to the authorities on the national level. Besides, a video was made to promote the awareness of the importance of employing Roma professionals in ECEC. Moreover, two Roma professionals conducted workshops in Roma settlements and presented their profession to Roma children, students and parents.

“We, the Roma, can also work in a preschool?” asked a very surprised local girl during one of these workshops.Such a question is an important signal for REYN Slovenia that they still need to put a lot of effort into promoting the profession of preschool teacher among the Roma. Furthermore, they should outline the positive impact of having Roma professionals in the preschool group and empower preschool leaders to be aware of giving equal opportunities for employment to the Roma professionals. All of these are priorities in the work that REYN Slovenia Network does now and in the next years.

Read more about REYN Slovenia and follow their Facebook page

REYN Academy: series of ten online workshops for REYN members in Hungary

More than 250 members participated in the REYN Academy in Hungary at the beginning of this year. The success is measured in the fact that the first REYN Academy hosted 15 participants, and the last one more than 45 participants. As one of the members wrote: “REYN Academy was the best thing that happened to me during the pandemic”.

Early childhood professionals often lack the possibility to participate in capacity-building workshops for various reasons: long distances they have to travel, lack of time and money. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this changed dramatically, as the online platforms became available from one day to the other. Therefore, the REYN National Network in Hungary decided to launch a mini-workshop series for the early childhood workforce to strengthen their capacity and advocate for their well-being.

One of the main goals of REYN Hungary is to build the capacity of early childhood professionals who work with Roma children and families in the country. Each year REYN Hungary launches an online survey and asks 700 members about their needs and topics they would like to learn about.

The list is endless, but there are certain patterns that always appear in these online surveys. In 2020, REYN Hungary had the opportunity to satisfy almost all of the needs that members signaled. Each of the topics – resilience, emotional intelligence development, early diagnosis, sexual education, kids coaching, conflict management, working with Roma families, early pregnancy in Roma families -was presented during 1,5 hours.

REYN National Network in Hungary plans to continue having REYN Academy and will offer a series of 10 REYN Academy every year.

Read more about REYN Hungary and follow their Facebook page.

Online Forum “We are all Children” Took Place in Ukraine

“2020 is a year of challenge for each of us and for our network in particular,” said REYN-Ukraine national coordinator Eleonora Kulchar during the online forum “We are all Children” that took place on November 24-25. “Unfortunately, we cannot look in the eyes of each of you or hug you. But I thank each one of you that you were able to find time for this forum and that you are ready to remember that children have no nationality, social or economic status. All of them are just children who deserve love and support from us, adults.”

During the forum, organized by the Transcarpathian Regional Charitable Foundation “Blago”, the host organization of REYN, participants discussed strategic goals of the REYN-Ukraine network and how they resonate with the draft of the new National Roma Integration Strategy  in Ukraine. REYN International Coordinator Aljosa Rudas spoke about the challenges faced by Roma communities, families and children and highlighted how National REYNs support them. Open Society Foundations Program Officer of Early Childhood Program Szilvia Pallaghy outlined the child’s interests in the new EU Roma strategic framework on equality, inclusion and participation for 2020-2030.

Distance learning is hard to access

The results of a joint study by REYN-Ukraine and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine on Roma children’s access to education during the pandemic were also discussed during the forum. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Roma children experienced bullying and not fair treatment at school. With the pandemic, this challenges became more severe.The study shows that 51.8% of parents reported that their children were bullied by the teachers, and 47.9% said that children were bullied by other children. In the whole country, distance learning was almost inaccessible to Roma children, as only a third of respondents had a smartphone, tablet or laptop and only 27% use regularly internet. In large families, one device was available for all children with repercussions on their online attendance and performance. In almost every third family, children did not do homework at all.

Encouraging children to dream and grow

This year, under REYN Ukraine, Transcarpathian Regional Charitable Foundation “Blago” supported financially six projects, and provided advice to two more. These projects were designed and implemented by REYN members in different Ukrainian cities, who  shared their experience and best practices during the forum. Among the projects, there is a street school of primary socialization for Roma children living in temporary settlements in the Lviv region, made possible by the integrated work of social workers, juvenile prevention officers and Roma volunteers.

“Children can and should dream about more things than what they have now!” the project implementors said.

Besides, this year, thanks to REYN, the following initiatives started in Ukraine:

  • An interactive summer camp in Odessa region for Roma and Ukrainian children took place. The main idea of the camp is the belief that friendship begins in childhood.
  • A center for preschool development now exists in a Roma cultural center in Zolotonosha, Cherkasy region.
  • Bilingual cartoons are disseminated between the professionals who work with Roma children and also in the schools where Roma children study and in the Roma organizations
  • REYN donated notebooks and laptops  to preschool age Roma children to support their development and the gradual acquisition of the Ukrainian language.
  • An alternative school during pandemic appeared in the Odesa region.
  • Because of distance learning, computer literacy courses for parents started in Kharkiv region.
  • The promotion of online local initiatives, models and methodologies of preschool development has begun  in Uzhhorod.

It is also worth mentioning that in 2020 the REYN-Ukraine network has significantly expanded. Currently, it consists of one national coordinator and three regional coordinators in different parts of Ukraine. The network management includes eight organizations from different regions of Ukraine. The network has 698 members and covers 14 regions of Ukraine.