Roma are by a common account the most marginalized community in the countries of Southeast Europe (SEE). Approximately 70% of Roma population in Europe is concentrated in Central and South-Eastern Europe (CSEE), and their vulnerability, which is to a large extent caused by the constant and severe discrimination they have been exposed to for decades (if not centuries) results with their deep social exclusion. This is reflected in many indicators ranging across employment, health, education, social mobility, and so forth.

The practices of segregation, the high dropout rates, the generally lower educational attainment of Roma, etc. are all indicative of this phenomenon. Attainment statistics in EU and OECD countries show that “the share of Roma that do not complete primary or lower secondary education in many countries in Central and Southeast Europe is considerable” (UNDP, Roma Education in Comparative Perspective: Findings from the UNDP/World Bank/EC Regional Roma Survey, 2012: 18). The report also indicates that “while nearly all Roma in the Central European Countries have completed primary education as of 2011, a considerable share of Roma in Southeast European Countries did not finish such education” (UNDP, Roma Education in Comparative Perspective: Findings from the UNDP/World Bank/EC Regional Roma Survey, 2012: 20). This results in very high illiteracy rates among Roma adults later in life in the countries of the region, especially in comparison to the general adult illiteracy rates which are generally low.

Roma non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have stepped in and tried to fill this gap. Many of them have taken the role of non-formal education providers in their communities, working with children, youth and adults. They have designed and delivered educational programs ranging from literacy and numeracy, vocational courses, employability courses, empowerment courses for women, entrepreneurship and business development programs, etc. A critical challenge to the education work with Roma has constantly been the lack of curricula and teaching materials which are adapted to the specific Roma needs and are in Roma language. At present, the number of curricula and textbooks in Roma language, and addressing specific priority needs of Roma, is close to non-existent in the target countries of Albania, Macedonia, and Bulgaria.

This is the key need that this project aims to address. The project partners, the Institute of Romani Culture in Albania (IRCA) from Albania, the National Roma Centrum (NRC) from Macedonia, and AKADEMIKA-245 from Bulgaria, will join their efforts to produce curricula and teaching materials which are adapted to the specific needs of the Roma communities in these three countries. The project partners have cooperated on a number of occasions in the past and they are in regular communication, and they agree that there are specific educational needs which are common to Roma in all of Albania, Macedonia, and Bulgaria.

The establishment of the consortium between the partner organizations represents a result of their mutual interests and efforts in improving the social inclusion of Roma. The focus of the proposed project derives from their broad experience in initiatives in the field of education, addressing different problems and needs of the Roma population.

The project design is a collaborative effort between the partner organizations, where the expertise of each partner organisation contributed to the identification of the project objectives, design of activities and intellectual outputs. The experience and expertise of the members of the consortium will also be incorporated in the design and production of the intellectual outputs: the educational curricula, non-formal educational materials, and the guide for youth workers, with reference to the specific needs of Roma youth.

The overall aim of the project is to promote new schemes and models for non-formal education of vulnerable Roma youth.

The specific objective of the project is to produce new and innovative non-formal education curricula and teaching materials which will be adapted to the specific needs of vulnerable Roma youth in the region.

The project is complementary to the priorities regarding non-formal education with Roma youth in the organizations’ respective countries: Albania, Macedonia, and Bulgaria.