BackgroundThe project was motivated by the partnership’s interest and direct experience in the literacy education, including for disadvantaged groups, with a focus on the Roma population. The series of reports „Equal Access to Quality Education for Roma” produced by Open Society’s EU Monitoring and Advocacy Programme (EUMAP), reports by OSCE, UNICEF, the Roma Education Fund, etc. covering three countries in this partnership (Slovakia, Romania, Montenegro) all point out the grim situation of Roma schoolchildren, whose limited access to quality education and highly disadvantaged situation in education (limited enrolment, drop-out, early school leaving, segregation from the mainstream children, discrimination in education, low educational attainment) as compared to their non-Roma peers maintains the Roma people’s social marginalization, and feeds the vicious circle of poverty perpetuation. Statistics offered by various reports point out the significantly lower literacy rates of Roma as compared to the non-Roma (around 75-80% for Roma as compared to 98-99% for non-Roma) in the three Central and South-eastern European countries. Each of them developed National Action Plans for the inclusion of Roma within the Decade for Roma Inclusion (2005-2014), in which education is treated as a priority domain. Our project aims to contribute to and support the achievement of the ambitious objectives set in these national plans by simultaneously targeting children’s and adults’ education.
The reasons for choosing to couple reading literacy with health literacy as cornerstones of family literacy are the following: in poor Roma communities, low education attainment levels are coupled with poor hygiene and in general poor health. Limited access to healthcare in the poorest Roma communities is also due to lack of knowledge of the risks associated with poor hygiene. Healthcare – including personal hygiene, the hygiene of learning, cleanliness of the household etc. – influences the quality of life and academic success. In addition, learning is one of five ways to wellbeing. It is known that participation in adult learning has positive effects in terms of smoking cessation, taking exercise and improvements in health and well being; the act of joining and being involved regularly in organised groups, such as learning groups, has a significant impact on health and well being.
The partnership that implements this project intends to capitalise on the encouraging findings on the benefits of family literacy in the UK, and the findings and recommendations of Carpentieri, J. et al (2011), and develop family literacy policies and practices for Romania, Montenegro and Slovakia. Although there is much experience in initiatives benefiting Roma communities, in these three countries there is limited experience in education policy development and promotion from the grassroots level. LIT3 will contribute by producing local strategies relying on the results of grassroots initiatives.