Access to education

A long term perspective for Kelderari Roma is being undermined by the poor state of the education that Kelderari Roma children receive. Education is regarded a major issue, both among Kelderari Roma as well as those who show a positive attitude towards them. Despite of the Russian law on education, access to education for Kelderari Roma is often limited. In some cases, notably in Perm, Kelderari Roma children are unable to attend primary school, in other places, like in Solontsy (Emelyanovsky district, Krasnoyarsk), Konakovsky Mokh (Tver province) and Osel’ki (Leningrad province) Kelderari Roma children are segregated and kept apart in special classes. In Savvatyevo (Kalininsky district, Tver province) Kelderari pupils are studying in a segregated school housed in ramshackle condition building, that was long ago abandoned by Russian pupils.

In Nizhny Osel’ki, Leningrad province, the primary school for Kelderari Roma is also organized in a separate small building which is of a much worse quality than the bigger building for Russian pupils and since the year 2006 even those Kelderari Roma who attend secondary school were brought back to this same separate small building. As a result the Roma children attend school in three shifts.

The school in Kalinichy village, Tambov province is in a ramshackle building attended only by children belonging to Roma and Kurdish ethnic minority. No Russians go to this school. Parents and children complain about this school as a very bad one, with only five teachers for all the classes, but they have no alternative. The teachers and the administration of the school were too frightened to talk to us.

In Sviyazhsk (Tatarstan) Kelderari children go to school number 53, where all Roma children regardless of their age and level are segregated into one class whereas Russian children are divided, as usual, into classes according to their age. Twelve year old Albina Milanova complained: “I go to school for three years already and I’m in the same class as the children, who come for the first time. The director is unjust to us”. The same situation was found in Pashino, Novosibirsk Province, where  a rom-parent Mikhail Khristov even tried to complain about segregation of Roma children in school, but achieved no result.

A peculiar example of a segregated school is the primary school, situated in the Kelderari Roma settlement Plekhanovka (Tula), where the local administration chose to create a special segregated school after the building for Roma pupils belonging to a segregated Russian/Roma school had burned down. The administration was forced to take measures to secure education for the local Kelderari Roma but meanwhile faced protests from ethnic Russians against a mixed school. This made them decide to buy a house in the Kelderari Roma settlement from a Kelderari Roma Rom and creating a school there. They motivated this move by proclaiming it “a matter of prevention of ethnic conflicts”. Though the school is limited to primary education, the attendance is unusually high – though there are only 140 pupils registered, 160 children attend on a daily basis. The school delivers pupils a daily meal worth 13 rubles for free, which is regarded a very positive fact by poor parents. 

An example of deliberate segregations for educational reason is Volgogradschool number 46, where there are segregated Roma classes for the primary level, but where those Roma, who want to continue their education on the secondary level, are integrated into Russian classes. Director Ms. Semenenko regards this approach as a way to overcome the arrears in the level of knowledge and skills of Roma children, compared to average schoolchildren. She also stated that some Roma parents had told her that they prefer this situation to a more integrated approach. Another example of the organization of separate education for Roma is the initiative by school number 2 in the Traktorny village of the Lipetsk Province, that used to be a school for adults but especially opened a primary school department for the local Roma children.

   Sadly enough, non-segregated schools only account for around 10-20% of Kelderari Roma children attending school. The distance between home and school is often a crucial factor in making decisions on attending school or not. Kelderari Roma often lack money for public transport or winter clothes that are indispensable for reaching schools. The Kelderari Roma children that go to school face the problem of adaptation, due both to the fact that Russian is not their native language and to the circumstance that their teachers are generally unfamiliar with their cultural and social background, thus creating a serious barrier in communication. Many Kelderari Roma children start attending school once they are already older and very few leave school with a diploma. On many occasions the attitude of the teachers and school administration is of crucial importance.



General Policy Recommendation No.10 of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the Council of Europe

40 measures for combating racism at school / 40 mesures pour lutter contre le racisme а l'йcole

ECRI – 40 measures for combating racism at school

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the Council of Europe has published today its General Policy Recommendation No.10 on combating racism and racial discrimination in and through school education. 

This Recommendation proposes 40 concrete measures to member States for (1) ensuring compulsory, free and quality education for all, (2) for combating racism and racial discrimination at school and (3) for training members of the teaching profession to work in a multicultural environment.

Text of the Recommendation


ECRI - 40 mesures pour lutter contre le racisme а l’йcole

A l’occasion de la Journйe internationale pour l’йlimination de la discrimination raciale, la Commission europйenne contre le racisme et l'intolйrance (ECRI) du Conseil de l’Europe a publiй aujourd’hui sa Recommandation de politique gйnйrale No.10 sur la lutte contre le racisme et la discrimination raciale dans et а travers l’йducation scolaire.

Cette Recommandation propose aux Etats membres 40 mesures concrиtes pour (1) assurer une йducation scolaire obligatoire, gratuite et de qualitй а tous,  (2) pour combattre le racisme et la discrimination raciale а l’йcole  et (3) pour former les membres du personnel enseignant а travailler dans un milieu multiculturel.  

Texte de la Recommandation