Joint Initiative Equal
The joint initiative Equal, co-financed by the European Social Fund, serves to try out innovative methods in fighting discrimination and inequalities in the labour market. Central to this are integrated action concepts which are pursued in regional and topical project alliances, transnational collaboration and the transfer of successful innovations into the whole field of supporting services, but also into politics and administration.
Equal connects to the issues promoted by the European Employment Strategy – employability, entrepreneurial spirit, adaptability and equal opportunities for men and women. On top of that, Equal promotes the integration of asylum seekers into the labour market.
Within the Equal partnership for development “Roma and Sinti – through self-organisation to employment and secure livelihood” twelve peer projects co-operate in the sector since the beginning of 2003, amongst others RAA Berlin, AW-AG Aachen, the Roma Association Frankfurt/Main (Förderverein Roma) and the Freudenberg Foundation Weinheim. With the active participation of Roma and Sinti locally, new approaches towards job orientation and the qualification of Roma and Sinti are developed and tested, with the inclusion of different regional networks.
Amongst the intended innovations is the qualification of Roma and Sinti as mediators in education, at work and in social work. With this qualification a new job profile is created which values intercultural competence as a personal resource and opens up new prospects for the integration into the labour market.
Roma and Sinti as mediators in education
Time and again teachers report how difficult it is to teach Roma and Sinti children, especially when they live in socially disadvantaged families or the parents, as refugees without work- and residence permits, depend on the receipt of reduced social benefits. Roma and Sinti experience school as a place where cultural values which rule their daily lives and their history - the experience of persecution, flight, migration and discrimination - do not find the appropriate resonance.
As a consequence, considerable communication problems and withdrawal strategies may occur. These manifest on the one side in resentment and scapegoating, on the other side in dropping out of school and a rejection of school. A promising response to this are those models where Roma and Sinti, as school assistants and mediators, act as links between teachers, parents and pupils. Their advisory activities are informed by their own authentic experience of life as well as by their knowledge of the educational environment in the family, at school and during professional training.
The special challenge here is two-fold. Firstly, appropriate and strongly practice-oriented qualification processes for school assistants and mediators need to be conceived who regard Roma and Sinti ideas about education as a chance. Secondly, schools as institutions need to be prepared for this whole field of new professional tasks.
The activity of school assistants and mediators also raises the question of aid and support in education in general, and of the development of a school which places importance on integration, not segregation.
Themes of the conference are:
- the presentation of successful approaches in the new field of school mediation
- reflections on results attained against the background of developments in society
- an exchange of experiences and concepts with other regions
- the development of strategic partnerships around family, school, work and professional qualification processes
The aim of the conference
to work out recommendations for action for
- agencies/services in the field of job orientation and qualification
- agencies of social support and social security
- career counselling services and labour market support services
- kindergardens/nurseries, schools and services for young people