VET4ROMA – Mediation with Roma

The VET4ROMA Mediation with Roma project (VET4ROMA) was a multi‐country European initiative aimed at contributing to the certification and professionalization of intercultural mediators working in communities with a significant proportion of Roma population.

The VET4ROMA Consortium, consisting of seven civil society organizations (CSOs) from five European countries ‐ Belgium, Italy, Romania, Serbia and Spain, did a need and resource assessment, developed a special training curriculum and an e‐toolkit on intercultural mediation, as well as implemented a three‐module mediators’ training in each of the countries. The training was developed and implemented   along the lines of the European Strategic Framework for Roma Inclusion by 2020 and focused on four priority areas:  healthcare, education, employment and housing.

Besides providing for completion of a three‐module training by 116 intercultural mediators living and/or working in Roma neighbourhoods and settlements, the Consortium  CSOs  also  did extensive advocacy and lobbying activities in order to improve the recognition and formalization  of the role of the intercultural mediators working within Roma communities and neighbourhoods.

The activities in Romania, implemented by the Intercultural Institute of Timisoara in cooperation with the Educational Assistance and Resource Centre ‘Speranta’, focused on the training of school mediators working in Roma communities.  There are several hundred such mediators employed in the Romanian education system, most of them being Roma. This was based on a pilot initiative in the

1990s of the Intercultural Institute of Timisoara, Romani CRISS and other organisations supported

by  the  Council  of  Europe  and  the  Romanian  Ministry  of  Education,  including  through  European funding between 2003 and 2007.

It was in close cooperation with the representatives of the Ministry of Education that the criteria for selecting mediators to participate in the VET4ROMA training were defined and that the selection process was done.  25 school mediators   from various regions of Romania were selected and participated in the face-to-face training in Timisoara in 19‐22 June 2015, followed by an online training. All the mediators involved in the training had the perspective of continuing to work with their Roma communities over the following years and many of them worked in areas affected strongly by a combinations of multiple challenges, including high levels of early school drop‐out, low levels of attendance in pre‐school education, irregular school attendance,  low school achievement,  extreme poverty, conflicts between Roma parents and school or low levels of participation  of Roma parents in school activities, pendular international migration or migration of parents, with children being left in the care of grand‐parents, etc.

In  October  2015  the  final  conference  of  the  project  took  place  in  Brussels,  where  the  results obtained in the partner countries were presented and analyzed.