Empowering Roma in Education

The ‘Empowering Roma in Education’ Conference aims to bring academics, school staff, policy makers and members of the Roma community together to tackle bullying and discrimination against Roma in school systems across Europe.

The UN Convention on the rights of the child is clear that all children, regardless of background, race, culture or identity have a right to education. However, existing economic, social, political, and educational discriminations, as well as bullying and victimization can sometimes disempower or disengage Roma children from pursuing their education. This conference will encourage the sharing of knowledge and expertise on the topic of Roma in education and contribute to the promotion of engagement and empowerment of Roma communities in society. It will merge perspectives from international and multidisciplinary speakers and create a powerful and open dialogue on the issues facing Roma children in schools today.

This is a virtual conference taking place on 24th February 2021.

The ‘Empowering Roma in Education’ Conference is part of the BReAThE project (preventing bullying and discrimination of Roma children). BReAThE is funded under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Programme of the European Union and part of a collaborative research project between the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at DCU (Ireland), Musicantia (Ireland) and KISA (Cyprus). It is also part-funded by the Department of Education and Skills, Ireland.

We are delighted to have the following speakers participate at the forthcoming conference:

Dr Niall Muldoon

Dr Niall Muldoon is Ireland’s second Ombudsman for Children. Niall, who is a counselling and clinical psychologist and was previously Director of Investigations at the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO), was appointed by President Michael D Higgins on February 17th 2015. As Ombudsman for Children Niall has focused on generating an Ireland where children and young people are actively heard, particularly those who are most vulnerable.

During his tenure the Office has sought to give voice to those children who are often not listened to. In that time the Office has consulted with young people availing of Ireland’s Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), Direct Provision, those in children’s hospitals, young people living in Family Hubs and young people affected by Brexit.

The OCO has also published a range of special reports on topics such as Education, Scoliosis Treatment and School Transport, as well as investigations highlighting cases where children’s rights were not respected in the provision of disability supports, in the care system and in housing.

In 2019 the OCO hosted “Beyond Limits: Empowering young people with disabilities” the first event of its kind bringing together 1,000 people in Croke Park for speakers, demonstrations, information and activities – all focused on children with disabilities. Working with others, Niall has contributed to i) the introduction of the ‘Barnahus, Onehouse Galway’ model to ease trauma for children who have been sexually abused and ii) bringing an end to young people being held in adult prisons.

He is also a member of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children (ENOC) where he holds the role of Secretary on the Bureau.

Prof Colin Clark

Colin Clark is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of the West of Scotland. He is a first-generation University student and from a Scottish Traveller background. His PhD was undertaken at the University of Edinburgh (2001) where he was supervised by Professor Judith Okely. Colin’s academic and activist work for more than 25 years has been principally in the field of Romani, Refugee and Migration Studies. Colin sits on the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights and is a Trustee of Romano Lav (Roma Voice). He also acts as adviser to the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Traveller Movement and the Advisory Council for the Education of Romanies and Other Travellers. Recent publications include: Clark, C. (2020) ‘Stay or Go? Roma, Brexit and European Freedom of Movement’, Scottish Affairs , 29(3): 403-418; Clark, C. (1998) ‘For work, we came here to find work’: migrant Roma employment and the labour of language. In P. Beresford, & S. Carr (eds.), Social Policy First-Hand: An International Introduction to Participatory Social Welfare Bristol: Policy Press (p.107-117) and Clark, C. (2018). ‘Sites, welfare and ‘barefoot begging’: Roma and Gypsy/Traveller experiences of racism in Scotland’. In N. Davidson, M. Liinpaa, M. McBride, and S. Virdee (eds.), No Problem Here: Racism in Scotland Edinburgh: Luath Press (p.145-161). Colin tweets at: @profcolinclark

Is ‘Empowerment’ Enough? Dismantling the Structures and Language of Anti-Traveller Racism
in Neoliberal Education

In this presentation I will unpack and problematise the concept of empowerment and suggest that, a little like the concept of ‘resilience’, there is an undue focus, both consciously and unconsciously, on the narratives of individual ‘heroic struggle’ rather than underlying structural barriers. It will be argued that the road to emancipation and liberation in the field of institutional, state-provided education – from primary school to University – lies in a radical combination of 1) decolonising a racist curriculum that is still exclusively determined by the experiences and agendas of country people, non-Travellers, as well as 2) tackling the politics and economics of neoliberalism that constrains what is possible in our educational settings. Overall, this presentation argues that individual and community Traveller empowerment is unduly limited in educational settings by
underlying structures that, in sum, aim to control, pacify and assimilate learners. This is a model we desperately need to liberate ourselves from to achieve a genuine equality of access and outcomes that means young Travellers can, in educational settings, flourish.

Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre: Towards Realising Traveller and Roma’s Right to Education

Jenny Liston​ is Pavee Point’s Roma Project Coordinator. Jenny is a qualified social worker with an MA in Gender, Globalisation, and Rights. She has previously worked in homeless and domestic violence services, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, and with the International Rescue Committee in Sierra Leone.

Gabi Muntean​ has been a community development worker with the Pavee Point Roma project since 2013 . She works to promote the human rights of Roma in Ireland. She was a researcher as part of the National Roma Needs Assessment in Ireland which was published in 2018. She has been a long-time volunteer working with schools and services in order to promote Roma inclusion. Gabi is originally from Romania and has lived in Ireland for over 20 years.