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The Fundación Secretariado Gitano presents the first desk that fights school dropout [editar]

"The Roma school desk", new awareness campaign of the FSG


The Fundación Secretariado Gitano presents the first desk that fights school dropout
  • The objective is to sensitize society and public authorities to work on measures that ensure equal real opportunities for Roma students.
  • 6 out of every 10 Roma girls and boys leave before completing the Compulsory Secondary School, compared to 2 out of 10 of the general population. Among many factors that cause this situation is the absence of referents, low expectations and confidence in their abilities or school segregation.

  • With “The Roma school desk”, the Fundación Secretariado Gitano calls for specific measures and a plan to combat the drop out of classrooms, in favours of school success, and guarantees the continuity of Roma students in the education system.
  • The campaign has begun with a presentation to the Minister of Education, Isabel Celaá, at the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and has continued with a street event in which public, political and political representatives, representatives of NGOs have been convened, among others.

The Fundación Secretariado Gitano has presented “The Roma school desk”, the desk created specifically to show the difficulties that Roma girls and boys face in the educational system every day and that leads them to an early drop out; difficulties that are often invisible to the rest of society. The objective is to raise awareness among society and public administrations about the need to guarantee the right to education and equal real opportunities for Roma students.

The desk, which at first glance seems normal, is designed with various imperfections (limping legs, inclination, etc.) that represent the different causes and barriers that Roma students have to overcome in their day to day, such as segregation school, lack of references, low expectations of success, or stereotypes, among others. The reality is that 6 out of every 10 Roma girls and boys (63.4%) drop out before finishing Compulsory Secondary Education compared to 2 out of 10 of the population as a whole.

Mayte Suárez, member of the Management team of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano, affirmed during the presentation that these “alarming percentages show that specific measures are necessary and a crash plan against school failure and dropout is urgently needed to guarantee the continuity of Roma students in the education system. Without the Compulsory Secondary education title, your chances of progress in the future are totally diminished.”

According to data from the Comparative Study on the situation of the Roma population in Spain in relation to employment and poverty presented by the Fundación Secretariado Gitano at the end of this month of September, only 17% of Roma people have compulsory secondary education or higher , compared to 77% of the general population as a whole, which evidences the existing gap. With regard to higher education, only 3% of Roma women and 5% of men have a higher degree, compared to 50% of men and women in the general population.

In this regard, Mayte Suárez has indicated that the latest data show a “certain progress”: In 2005, 6.4% of the Roma population had (or passed) the compulsory secondary studies; in 2011 this figure increased to 10% and in 2018 17% managed to finish their studies. However, Suarez stressed that "there is still a lot to be done and progress is very slow," and has pointed out the responsibility of the public authorities to guarantee the right to education, also for Roma students. Suarez has appealed to the possibility of an educational reform that contemplates the situation of Roma students and gives a specific response, incorporating a Plan of shock against school failure and measures to reverse and combat school segregation that affects Roma girls and boys.

In the act of launching the campaign, “The Roma school desk” has been placed in the center of Madrid at the confluence of Alcalá and Gran Vía streets, to also sensitize the citizens, inviting them to sit on it and feel their own skin imperfections. The desk will now travel through Spain to extend the awareness action and make visible a reality unknown to most.

The campaign has an info site, which shows testimonies of young Roma they are studying, as well as graphic and audio-visual content to deepen the topic.


Ankward imperfections

During the presentation to the minister, Miguel Jiménez, educational counsellor of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano and Lola Romero, member of the group Roma Ambassadors for Education of the FSG, were responsible for telling their personal experience around the education system, analysing one by one the various imperfections of the desk. These imperfections represent a simile of both individual and educational and socio-economic factors and barriers that, for the most part, have to do with the lack of opportunities that Roma students face because they belong to a very stigmatized ethnic minority and whose schooling has been historically late.

Some of the most frequent barriers facing by Roma students are the lack of guidance, support and educational reinforcement measures adapted to the needs of Roma students to ensure that they finish the compulsory stage and continue studying; the school segregation that occurs in many educational centers and classrooms, where a high percentage of Roma students are concentrated, or the low expectations and confidence in their abilities by their environment, teachers, their family and themselves for achieving educational success. The short educational trajectory in many Roma families entails a low valuation of studies and the absence of figures to follow.

The situations of poverty and exclusion, which affect many Roma families, represent another disadvantage, which joins the bad social image and discrimination that still persist towards the Roma community.

The act of the Ministry of Education had a capacity of more than 80 people, including prominent personalities of politics and social organizations. It should be noted the presence, in addition to Minister Isabel Celaá, the Secretary of State Alejandro Tiana and several General Directors, three Roma deputies (Beatriz Carrillo, also 2nd vice president of the State Council of the Roma People), Sara Giménez and Juan José Cortés, as well as the Roma senator Carla Santiago and the director of the Institute of Roma Culture, Diego Fernández. A broad representation of the Board of Trustees of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano also participated, including the president, Pedro Puente and the secretary Valentín Suárez, as well as the management of the entity.

Así es el Pupitre Gitano

Impact of the campaign

The new social awareness campaign of the FSG is having a considerable impact on both the media and social networks.

The newspaper El País published in its paper edition today, September 12, an extensive report entitled with the phrase that one of the young Roma interviewed from a career partner heard: "Why do you enrol, if you are not going to come to class" .

On the other hand, the presentation acts (prior to Minister Celaá in the Ministry and later between Alcalá and Gran Vía streets) were covered by numerous media, both televisions (Telemadrid, Antena3), and radio (RNE 1, Radio 5) , agencies (Europa Press), written and online press (HuffingtonPost), as well as specialized media in advertising.

In social networks it is worth mentioning the support for the campaign by Minister Isabel Celaá herself and numerous politicians, public officials (Nacho Sola, General Director of Equal Treatment) and those responsible for NGOs, among which we can mention former Minister Ángel Gabilondo; the Roma deputies Sara Giménez and Beatriz Carrillo, Susana Obiang of the State Confederation of Deaf People; Injuve; Movement against intolerance; Luis Cayo of CERMI; High Commissioner against child poverty; the NGO Platform; José Javier López, director of EAPN_es; Luciano Poyato from Third Sector Platform and Volunteer Platform; Save the Children; Marisa Gómez Crespo from the NGO Platform; the National Institute of Educational Evaluation; Javier Palop, director of the SM Foundation; Concha López, director of the International Plan; Pablo Navajo, from the Red Cross; among many others, as well as celebrities like Marina Carmona and others who are also showing their support by sending their signatures.