Intercultural education and educational integration

 Education is an area in which Center “Amalipe” is working since its foundation. The main cause of Center “Amalipe” is to transform the school into a place where every child can find himself, a place where every child can start to believe that he might be winner, a place to get a chance to dream and to be a man!

Every child can be a winner! If you make a child to believe that he can succeed and sincerely strive for it, you have managed to find the key to success in its development – from there on no one and nothing can stop him to achieve it. This is the basic approach that “Amalipe” applies within the three-year program for Reduction of Roma children drop out of school, organized with the support of the Foundation “America for Bulgaria”. A major element of this approach is the introduction of intercultural education (with a focus on the introduction of classes on “Ethnic Folklore – Roma folklore”) as a means of preservation and renovation of the cultural identity of the Roma community, as well as mutual understanding and formation of tolerance between children of different ethnicities.

This publication presents the results of experience of Center “Amalipe” and the schools, involved in the program during the last three years – both in numbers and as specifically solved cases.

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Preventing Early Marryages

Early marriages in the Roma community (the point is actually about cohabitation, family creation and not about “marriage”, because the legal act of marriage is not present or in most cases even not possible) is a topic, which is currently attracting the attention of the so called “general public” and “public opinion”. On the one hand, early marriages are often combined with “arranged marriages” and even “forced marriages”: usually it is the parents who initiate this form of cohabitation. Very frequently, this leads to “dropping out”, i.e. to early school leaving, which is related to limiting the further appropriate social realization of the person. Early marriages are usually followed by “early births”, because – at least with the traditional Roma families, as well as the marginalized ones) the married woman is expected to prove that she can give birth: she is highly appreciated as the continuer of the family and if she cannot fulfil this role, she has to bear one of the heaviest stigmas. Frequently, different forms of domestic violence, divorces, and diseases among these young mothers accompany early marriages, etc. Therefore, we could see a whole series of negative phenomena, to which any European society is (or at least should be) painfully sensitive. On the other hand, early Roma marriages seem out of the ordinary, exotic and inexplicable: a remainder of the “non-European marriage model” (typical for the people to the east of the Trieste – St. Petersburg line of John Hajnal). This “exotics” is often related to the stigmatization of the whole Roma community as a backward and unable for development generator of children. It is accompanied by the even more definite ignoring of the truth that, not so long ago, early marriages were typical for the majority of the nations to the east of Trieste – St. Petersburg line (and a little earlier – for all European nations), and by neglecting the

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