Empowering marginalised groups through education and training in the Danube Region

The two-day conference held in Vienna on 2/3 October 2014 mainly focused on presenting strategies and projects for the inclusion of Roma families into society and especially on improving children’s integration in school. Read Arja Krauchenberg's report below

Most keynote speakers were from Austria with two exceptions: T√ľnde Kovacs-Cerovics from the University of Belgrade and Emilia Venot from EACEA in Brussels.

During the four parallel workshops 2 projects were presented in each of them dealing with the respective topic:
-          Early Childhood Education & Early School Leavers
-          Literacy skills and participation in family education
-          Vocational Education and Training focussing on Roma
-          Awareness Raising and Networks focussing on Roma

All the workshops targeted the development of new projects under the Erasmus+ programme and the facilitators tried to stimulate the participants to put forward ideas for such a project in the field discussed. Therefore a round of brainstorming took place after the presentations, followed by a discussion about possible aims and target groups as well as objectives to reach and proposals of activities. Taking the Application Form as a basis the facilitators explained which kind of information has to be provided and how it needs to be presented in order to be eligible for a grant.

The projects presented were very interesting even though I was only able to participate in one of the workshops. Both projects are still running so no final results were presented but the presenters also explained difficulties and hurdles they had or have to deal with. They also spoke about unexpected side effects and the necessity of improvisation and flexibility. Getting a grant was discribed as a difficult and time-consuming process that needed a lot of coaching in order to formulate things the correct way. All participants complained that the time and energy lost could be better invested in dealing directly with the people concerned by the project.
The discussion was also very lively and brought forward even more projects that are still running and an exchange of questions concerning the different activities.

There was someone from the Roma-community in the workshop the first day but not the second and throughout the event I had the impression that a lot of talking about Roma was going on but no actual talking with them; a point that was also mentioned during the discussion: Identifying needs means talking to people about their needs and not assuming issues and basing projects upon these assumptions.

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