Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Inventory of Availabe Resources to Help Teach Roma Children (and Adults) Literacy in Romani

UPDATED NOV. 4, 2014
(To be added to; please advise if you know of other resources not listed here)

Available primers/reading curriculae
In Germany, a few years ago in 2007-2009, a Roma (Sinti) couple was using a primer (i liil an maro rakepen, 2007, with a teacher's guide written in German) to teach regular classes in a few schools, for Sinti children. The primer was adapted by U. Peter from a primer that was written for Roma children and adults in Romania by Georghe Sarau and Camelia Stanescu (Manual de alfabetizare in limba rromani pentru copii, tineri si adulti).  The Romanian primer was prepared in a 'standardized' form of Romani, which is not spoken by any particular group, but it is being used (although to what extent and with what results is not currently clear) in schools in Romania to teach Roma children in the regular school system.

On the website www.romanibible.org there is information (under Educational Materials) about another primer: Sirpustik amare chibaqiri A basic primer of Romani by Marcel Kurtiàde, with illustrations by Ferdinand Koçi. It has a Teacher's manual available in Albania, English, French, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, and Spanish. There is an address in France where you can order this. I am not sure which dialect/language this is exactly and where it is spoken. (The website lists the following dialects/languages: Kalderash, Lovari, Ursari, Baltic, Servy, Sinti, Balkan, Pan Rromani.)

Christian Missions/NGO's
There are quite a number of Christian NGO's and missions from Western European countries who are involved in helping Roma children with education. Many have Kindergarten projects or projects for helping Roma children with homework or extra work so that they can better function in the regular schools. Examples: http://www.osce.org/kosovo/57517  or  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKmokWIdfx0
However, I have not yet come across any that teach Roma children by using the Romani language as language of education. Roma parents want their children to be taught in the national language so that they can have better chances at continued education and employment. One exception to this is a school in Pécs, Hungary, the Ghandi School, which you can read about on romanibible.org, under 'schools'.

UNA Club
The Roma Bible Union works with Bayash Roma in Croatia, Serbia and Hungary. The UNA Club is a Roma Children's Bible and Literacy movement designed to take the Gospel of Jesus into Roma villages. http://www.unaclub.com/  

Council of Europe:  'The key to a better future lies in the education of Roma children'.
The Council of Europe has a comprehensive approach to Roma and Traveller issues. It stresses the importance of maintaining linguistic and cultural diversity, and encourages language learning as a means of preserving linguistic and cultural identity, improving communication and mutual understanding, and combating intolerance and xenophobia. The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) was developed by the Language Policy Division of the Council of Europe to provide a common basis for all languages in regard to curriculum guidelines, examinations, textbooks etc. across Europe.
As part of this, the Curriculum Framework for Romani was developed. It takes account of the needs of three age groups: 3–6 years, 7–10 years, 11–14 years; and it is designed to accommodate three different sociolinguistic situations: the teaching of Romani to (i) children who do not speak Romani at home, (ii) children who are not fluent in Romani, though they may hear their parents and grandparents speak the language, and (iii) children who are fluent in Romani but who need to develop their skill in using the language as an instrument of formal learning (Romani as language of education). The Framework also takes account of a significant difference between the learning of Romani by Roma children and the learning of foreign languages in general education. In the latter case a new language draws the learner into a new culture, whereas the teaching of Romani aims to give learners linguistic access to a culture that is already familiar to them and in this way to deepen their sense of their Roma identity.
For more information, see http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/Romani_doc_EN.asp The document Curriculum Framework for Romani 2008 can be downloaded on this page in English as well as Kalderash or Usari.

European Language Portfolio (ELP)
The European Union has come up with a way to acknowledge and support the teaching of minority languages, including Romani, and encourage plurilingualism, by developing the European Language Portfolio. This is an 'instrument which promotes and supports the learning of languages and the exchange of intercultural experiences at all levels.'   See: http://elp.ecml.at/UsingtheELP/Understandingtheportfolio/tabid/2745/language/en-GB/Default.aspx
The Romani ELP is a tool to to help bilingual speakers of Romani to keep a record and portfolio of their knowledge of the Romani language. A pdf  of the Romani ELP is found here: http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/Source/Rom_LowerSecELP08_EN.pdf

Davar, a curriculum being developed for Roma children or adults wanting to learn
A series of activities and games that teach necessary skills to children or adults who are learning to read, write, and do math in the regular school system of the country they reside in (provided, of course, they can function well in the language of instruction). The goal is to attract students to the learning process through these activities and games and help them discover that academic learning is easier and more fun than they (might have) previously thought or experienced.

Some things should be taught first because some practice is needed to develop the sequential part of the brain necessary to be able to easily learn school subjects. (For more explanation about this see
http://www.kidport.com/reflib/science/HumanBody/NervousSystem/BrainHemispheres.htm#BrainHemispheres.) The program is simple and fun to do. It can be done with very few materials. Since students succeed in it, it is also affirming for them.
  Davar may be part of a Sunday school, Bible club, or other regular meeting. Students should meet at least once a week. A Davar activity takes about 5 minutes. The entire cycle can be done in about 6 months.

The activities are being developed in Dutch/English and will need to be adapted/translated to the language spoken where they will be used.
Contact person: Mary van Rheenen (holmesvr at online dot nl).

SIL Personnel
A literacy team has just allocated in Romania and is learning Romanian right now.

Marianne Fast
SIL Literacy Consultant
marianne_fast at sil.org

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