Language Education Policy Profile



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2.5 Roma


As regards education, Romani children often begin school later than their non-Romani peers. They are subjected to hostility on the part of non-Romani parents, school officials and/or other children. School abandonment rates among Roma are also high.102

In the observations provided by the authorities in Lithuania concerning ECRI’s (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) Second Report on Lithuania, it was stated that

The majority of Roma children attend general education schools and are well integrated into the school community. .The Vilnius Roma speak Romani or Russian; therefore, their children have limited opportunities to be integrated in schools with Lithuanian as the language of instruction. Taking this into account, pre-school education of Roma children has been organized at the Kirtimai Roma Community Centre where the children are taught Lithuanian so that they could later on attend general education schools providing instruction in Lithuanian. The State is taking every effort to ensure regular and successful education of Roma children, which is considered to be a key precondition in protecting their families from poverty and unemployment. Seeking to ensure preservation of the language and culture of Roma people, the Government of Lithuania is providing support to the development of a Romani language textbook103.

While the ECRI welcomed this initiative, it also urged the Lithuanian authorities to ensure that the courses provided at the Centre are only preparatory courses, at the end of which children integrate mainstream schools. Attendance of preparatory classes for longer than strictly necessary should be avoided at all costs.

ECRI stressed that lack of language skills and pre-school knowledge constitute only a part of the problem and that

“it is very difficult to ensure regular and successful schooling of Roma/Gypsy children when their families are struggling with severe poverty, joblessness and poor health as well as prejudice from society at large, including school officials and non-Roma parents and children. ECRI stresses once more, in this context, the need for an integrated approach.

...In addition, ECR1 emphasised that it is important to train teachers in multiculturalism and prepare them to react to manifestations of prejudice or to abuses from other children.

...ECRI furthermore encourages the Lithuanian authorities to include in the curricula of all schools information on the history and culture of Roma/Gypsies and to provide training programmes in this subject to teachers104”.


2.6 Vocational Education


The only reliable data located about the language of instruction in this sector was a brief observation by Kasatkina & Beresneviciute (2004) that in ‘vocational schools the portion of the students studying in minorities' languages has decreased from 11% to 7% in between 1991-2000. The situation has considerably changed at vocational colleges, where in 1991, 12% of students studied in minority languages while in 2000 only 1% did. At the moment, 99% of students study in the state language at vocational colleges’.

2.7 Higher Education


The numbers of those who study in Lithuanian are even higher on the level of higher education. At universities, the percentage of students studying in Lithuanian has increased from 90% to 98% between 1990 and 2000105.

Table 30: Distribution of Higher Schools' Students by Language Of Study (per cent)

Year

Lithuanian


Russian


Polish


Belorussian


English


French


German


1990-1991

90.1


9.5


0.4


-


-


-


-


1992-1993


94.0


5.5


0.3


0.0


0.2


0.0


-


1994-1995


95.8


2.9


0.3


0.1


0.8


0.1


-


1996-1997


97.6


1.1


0.3


0.0


0.9


0.0


0.1


1998-1999


97.6


1.0


0.2


0.1


0.9


0.1


0.1


1999-2000


97.7


0.9


0.2


0.1


0.9


0.1


0.1


Source; Education Statistics Lithuania. Vilnius, 2001, cited in Natalija Kasatkina & Vida Beresneviciute (2004) .
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