The European Public Health Alliance has joined calls from the Roma Education Fund and a number of other organisations to call for the European Commission and EU national governments to ensure that Roma children are not left behind as they implement measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many Roma children are already living in precarious situations, facing discrimination and prejudice which hampers their educational opportunities, considerably affecting their ability to achieve their potential. the statement highlights fears that the lockdown measures will lead to further marginalization, leading to poor educational attainment and school dropout and exclusion from additional social support.
The statement calls on the European Commission to ensure that:
- EU emergency funds allocated for tackling COVID 19 also reflect the needs of Roma and other vulnerable children
- binding criteria are developed for Member States receiving central European support that take into account the needs of Roma children and focuses on reducing this education gap.
- Member States develop an urgent response to their educational needs by allocating funding to improving their access to education, including IT equipment, access to internet and digital literacy that may prevent poor educational attainment and school dropout.
- measures concerning poverty reduction as a key to sustainable inclusion including eliminating segregated housing, providing better access to utilities such as electricity and clean drinking water, etc are introduced, particularly in the implementation of the proposed EU Child guarantee.
Further recommendations towards EU Member States, requesting measures such as ensuring that Roma children’s right to education is upheld, and current issues such as access to the internet and other educational tools is addressed; and guaranteeing equal access to quality healthcare and protection for human rights to counteract any further stigmatisation and discrimination as a result of measures to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.
The full statement can be downloaded below