Romania 'Driving the Roma away is useless'

Project : Romania 2 May 2012 education roma social exclusion inclusion

2998_aguettant2_smallThe head of the Terre des hommes delegation in Romania, Joseph Aguettant, replied to questions of Le Matin. He recommends tackling root-causes of the problems, by promoting quality education in Romania.

Q:Joseph Aguettant, isn’t there access to education in Romania?
A: Access to quality education has never been easy, whether for Roma or non-Roma Romanians. A Roma child has six-times less chance of being enrolled in this country, where there is a real problem of access to services in general. This is true for schools as well as healthcare.

Q: How do you explain the massive emigration of this part of the population?
A: At the end of the Ceausescu regime, the Roma were the first ones to lose their jobs. Their only future hope of being able to feed their family was to emigrate to the West: to Italy, France, England as well as Switzerland. But the Roma have not always been beggars. The parents and grandparents of these children were not beggars!

Q: You recommend getting to the roots of the problem. What exactly do you mean?
A: What I want to say is that it is not Brussels or Strasbourg who will solve the problem. For Terre des hommes, the question does not lie at the level of security, even though we do not deny that offences may be committed. To put it clearly, this is a national issue transferred to a European level: social inclusion. And inclusion begins at school.

Q: What can Terre des hommes do?
A: We fight against poverty, segregation, and the social exclusion of these vulnerable children who live – sometimes without their parents – in conditions of extreme insecurity, sometimes in slums. The fact that these youngsters are left to themselves and without a future, is a time-bomb.

Q: And in practice?
A: With our programme we have succeeded in reducing school drop-outs by 80%. One franc invested in a kindergarten is a 7 time return on investment as the child has far more chances of continuing his education and finding a job.

Valérie Duby for Le Matin

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