ECMI Director visits Roma Education project in Kosovo

On 6 October 2011, ECMI Director Tove H. Malloy visited the Roma community camp in Plementina just outside Kosovo’s capital Prishtina. The camp takes part in ECMI Kosovo’s project “Building Sensitivity for Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities in Schools.” The project is implemented with funding from the Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. The aim of the project is to get the children of these minorities integrated into the regular school system in Kosovo.  

The Plementina camp is home to over 100 Roma families. Before the start of the ECMI Kosovo project in June, the children were educated within the camp by the community’s own teachers. In order to support integration of Roma in mainstream Kosovo society, the ECMI Kosovo project facilitated contact between the leaders of the Roma community and the directors of the two local schools in the area. Over the summer break ECMI Kosovo staff met with the families and the school directors, and by the beginning of the school year in September, 65 Roma children had been enrolled in the two local schools and now participate in the regular classes with Kosovar children.

Many issues remain outstanding to secure the success of the project, however. The camp where the Roma children live is very poor, and aid from the Kosovo government is minimal. Thus, the Roma children lack essential school materials, such as textbooks and pens as well as warmer clothing for the upcoming winter. Most Roma families in Kosovo survive on money sent by their relatives in Western Europe.     

During the visit to the camp, Director Tove H. Malloy met with the leader of the camp Mr. Bajrus Berisha who showed the Director the dire conditions of the camp. The Roma families live in derelict barracks previously used by the UNHCR as returnee housing. Two regular buildings were built and provided in 2006. Unfortunately, one is already near collapse due to poor construction. Nevertheless, it continues to be used by the Roma families. Those families that do not find room in the buildings live in tents. The camp is furthermore a major health danger to the children as it is located within 500 meters of one of the most polluting power plants in Kosovo.

The ECMI Kosovo site can be found here.
The OSCE HCNM site can be found here.

Plementina, Kosovo, 6 October

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