Educational participation of Sinti & Roma

Research on antiziganism

Currently, antiziganism is considered a structure of discrimination that, in different ways, has a negative effect on educational opportunities.

German citizens with and without a migration background as well as citizens from other EU- and non-EU-countries suffer from antiziganistic discrimination in Germany. If German or other EU citizens experienced persecution first-hand or in their family, especially during National Socialism, it often had an impact on their education. Since the mid-1930s at the latest, Sinti and Roma in larger German cities were forced to live in different ghettos. The National Socialists’ policy of social exclusion, persecution and ultimately extermination was also noticeable in educational procedures. Most of the survivors were severely excluded from the educational system during National Socialism. The Federal Republic of Germany never tried to make up for this exclusion. Instead, educational discrimination was sustained in various ways. One of these forms of discrimination is the statistically exorbitant number of referrals of German Sinti and Roma to special schools.

The collapse of Real socialism was another formative experience for many people with a migration background who live in Germany and have suffered antiziganism, especially for people from Eastern and South-East Europe. The authoritarian socialist states tended to integrate all citizens in an equally restricted fashion into the national educational systems. Sometimes, it was a means to destroy the cultural identity of minorities and to establish cultural homogeneity. After 1990, educational discrimination became much worse. Different forms of school segregation were established in socialist states, but not only there. Together with discrimination in other areas, school segregation often restricted minorities’ educational opportunities permanently.

These institutionalised structures of discrimination are supported and strengthened by a cultural framework of European majority societies which shows antiziganistic tendencies. Within this framework, Sinti and Roma are stigmatised as "primitive", "uneducated", and "undisciplined". At school level, teachers, classmates, and other agents contribute to such a conception. School and other educational material also facilitate the reproduction of antiziganistic clichés and stereotypes. The depiction of stereotypes is often accompanied by a total lack of information on the history of Sinti, Roma, Yenish or other people who have suffered antiziganism. The history of discrimination and persecution, especially during National Socialism, is equally often denied or ignored.

Until the 1980s, criticism of these circumstances at a structural level and in numerous individual cases came almost solely from Sinti and Roma associations or individual Sinti and Roma who were personally affected. Since then, some criticism has been voiced from an academic and political standpoint. The driving force is still the commitment of the associations. This focal point is designed to contribute to the research on and the criticism of antiziganism.

“Identifying the value of education – improving the situation of women”

The ZBI accompanies and evaluates the project "Identifying the value of education – improving the situation of women” scientifically. The project is organised by the meeting place for Sinti in Hildesheim (“Begegnungsstätte Hildesheimer Sinti”). It is financed by the state of Lower Saxony.

With reference to current studies on educational participation of German Sinti in Lower Saxony, the Begegnungsstätte Hildesheimer Sinti started to develop measures designed to enable local children and teenagers of this minority to access school education and participate in it. For this purpose, the Begegnungsstätte Hildesheimer Sinti formulated specified objectives in a motion. The process of implementing the measures is accompanied by evaluations of University Hildesheim Foundation’s ZBI –. After one year, the ZBI will submit a report with recommendations concerning the quality development and the safeguarding of both concept and measures.

XENOS project

Educational awakening network

Education and employment for Sinti and Roma in Germany

Sinti and Roma as a minority in Germany have a relationship with the majority that is characterised by reciprocal dissociation. Currently, this trend has become even stronger due to the structural inequality when it comes to accessing and participating in social commodities such as apprenticeships or employment. Exclusion, discrimination, and prejudices are other factors. The nationwide active network “Bildungsaufbruch für Sinti und Roma in Deutschland” (Educational awakening for Sinti and Roma in Germany) was established in order to overcome prejudices, ethnic exclusion and social disintegration.

The XENOS project brought RAA Berlin, Romnokher and Madhouse together to promote a better education and better chances on the labour market for Sinti and Roma. Education initiatives, Sinti and Roma associations, and anyone involved in the process of education and employment (including employers) are invited to use the network as a platform for exchanging information and building new partnerships. 

The project has been completed.