REYN - Croatia supports the initiative for the alignment of the Ordinance on the content and duration of pre-preparatory programme to the needs of the Roma children for preschool education and upbringing
Romani Early Years Network -Croatia joins the initiative of the "Oasis" Association to align the Ordinance on the content and duration of pre-preparatory programme (OG 107/2014) to the identified needs of Roma children for preschool education and upbringing of adequate duration - the needs described in the key documents such as the Action plan for the implementation of the National Roma Inclusion Strategy 2013 - 2015.
Romani Early Years Network-Croatia joins the initiative of the "Oasis" Association to align the Ordinance on the content and duration of pre-preparatory programme (OG 107/2014) to the identified needs of Roma children for preschool education and upbringing of adequate duration - the needs described in the key documents such as the Action plan for the implementation of the National Roma Inclusion Strategy 2013 - 2015.
Our experience of working with preschool and primary school educational institutions, as well as of our member's work with Roma children, families and communities unambiguously calls attention to the need for a more adequate integration of Roma children and their enrolment into quality programmes of preschool education and upbringing - and here the advantage should be given to regular programmes in full duration. Ensuring provision of adequate support to Roma children is of utmost importance, allowing the development of the first language and the acquisition of the second language as well as the mitigation of destructive effects of poverty by measures such as the free lunch.
Our experiences from the field as well as the data presented in the Roma Early Childhood Inclusion Study for Croatia (RECI+) also show uneven implementation of integrated preschool programmes - in smaller number of local communities Roma children attend regular preschool programmes integrated with the majority children, some attend reduced programmes, whilst in some local government units children do not attend preschool at all. Such discrepancy is caused by budgetary capacities, but also, determined by the political will of the local self-government units.
Romani Early Years Network –Croatia therefore deems that it is necessary to ensure structural preconditions in order to align the measures for ensuring equal access of children to quality preschool education and upbringing and the consistency of its implementation on the local level. Apart from this being directly linked to the main objective of the National Roma Inclusion Strategy 2013-2015 (decreasing the multidimensional socio-economic gap between Roma and the remaining population and achieving full integration of Roma into all segments of the society), it is also part of ensuring the fundamental children's rights.
The initiative for the alignment of the Ordinance on the content and duration of pre-preparatory programme with identified needs of the Roma children for preschool education and upbringing
we would like to inform you that The Association for homeless and socially deprived persons in Rijeka "Oasis", under the framework of the project Educating&Integrating, financed by the Roma Education Fund as a follow-up to the successful local campaign for the highest possible enrolment of Roma children in pre-preparatory programmes during the school year 2014/2015, sent an appeal to the Minister of Science, Education and Sports, Mr. Vedran Mornar, asking of the MSES to align the Ordinance on the content and duration of pre-preparatory programmes (OG 107/2014) with the Action plan for the implementation of the National Roma Inclusion Strategy 2013-2015.
Namely, the Article 3 (1) of the Ordinace stipulates that the "pre-preparatory programme is implemented from October 1st until May 31st, with a total duration of 250 hours annually for children who did not attend regular preschool education programmes". Paragraph (2) of the same Article provides that in, some circumstances, the "pre-preparatory programme may be shortened (but may not last less than 150 hours".
Both paragraphs of the Article 3 are in contradiction with the specific objective 2 of the Action plan which determines that the increase of the number of Roma children enrolled in integrated preschool programmes carried out by regular preschool educational institutions is necessary, as well as the number of children,who were not enrolled in integrated preschool education, into pre-preparatory programmes lasting "a minimum of 1 year, 5 hours daily during the pedagogical year until 2020". The Action plan recommends "a minimum of 2 years of pre-preparation programmes".
The ongoing pedagogical year 2014/2015; according to the Decision MSES on the start and finish of the pedagogic year, from 28th February 2014, paragraph II; lasts from 8 September 2014 to 16 June 2015, or according to the paragraph III, the classes are organised and carried out at least for 175 days.
This means that compulsory pre-preparatory programme for Roma children, according to the Action plan, should be carried out in the same number of school days, 5 hours daily, or in a total number of 875 hours. In practice, by the Article 3, of the current Ordinance, the Roma children who are enrolled in regular preschool education in very low numbers were deprived of the 625 hours of pre-preparatory programme annually just during this school year! Surely, the current limited duration of pre-preparatory programmes effects all children who are not enrolled in regular kindergarten programmes, not only the Roma.
Our multi-annual supplementary educational programme with Roma children living in social housing proved that their enrolment in regular preschool education and upbringing from the earliest age is a key prerequisite for successful mastering of school tasks and educational challenges, their overall growth and future.
The implementation of the specific objective 2 of the Action plan including a minimum of two full pedagogical years of pre-preparatory programme is a minimal precondition, according to our opinion, for gradual over bridging of the developmental gap between Roma and non-Roma children which occurs in the pre primary school period. This gap, regardless of the positive legislation, all efforts of children, parents, teachers and educators, CSO's, is impossible to overcome after primary school enrolment.
We note that the MSES initially reacted positively to our appeal. We got this impression from the reactions of Ms. Iva Prpić, Assistant Vice Prime Minister and the President of the Committee for monitoring implementation of the National programme for Roma, Ms. Milanka Opačić, the children's ombudsman, Ms. Ivana Milas-Klarić and Mr. Branko Sočanac, the head of the Office for Human Rights and Rights of National Minorities.
Finally, we emphasise that alignment of the Ordinance with the Action plan is of crucial importance for the real implementation of strategic national objectives and our European obligations, as well as for this especially sensitive area of Roma integration in our country. We find that the alignment should be adopted as soon as possible, before the end of the current school year, in order for the kindergartens/schools and other institutions who are implementing the pre-preparatory programmes could prepare for the enrolment of children in the school year 2015/2016
We would appreciate your opinion on this issue, as well as to support our initiative in any way you find appropriate.
Looking forward to our cooperation.
Ana Marija Bešker
Udruga za beskućnike i socijalno ugrožene osobe
51 000 Rijeka
OIB: 914 861 27818