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Evangelicals in Spain promote a project to reduce absenteeism among this ethnic group. Romani church pastors have a key role as community leaders.
A project of the Spanish evangelical platform ‘Diaconía’ works with Romani families to help children have better chances to succeed at school.
Absenteeism is one of the main reasons for school failure of many Romani children in Spain.
Many families of this ethnic group in Spain are evangelical Christians; it is thought that 1 in 4 evangelicals in Spain are members of the Romani ‘Filadelfia’ evangelical denomination.
Sharing the importance of education for children is one of the aims of the initiative. “It is crucial to help parents understand the advantages that come when their children attend school, finish the compulsory Secondary School studies and, if possible, postpone the age of marriage”, Diaconia social worker Conchi Rodríguez said.
COLLABORATION ON SEVERAL FRONTS
“We are aware of the importance of parents´ real participation on this, and that it will take time until we earn the right to be listened to, we need to build trust and acceptation”, Rodríguez added.
The Diaconia platform has been working with the Education Ministry of the Spanish government, and has been talking with the directors of several state schools to introduce the project. “Their reactions have been wonderful”, the leader of the project said.
IN SCHOOLS AND OUTSIDE
The project will include activities in school, such as “reinforcement classes, oral hygiene, education in values, prevention of gender-based violence, resolution of conflicts and affective-sexual education”.
The organisation will also work with parents and pastors of the churches they attend to offer spaces in which children can learn study techniques, and other tools.
Rodríguez admits that much of the success will depend on the fact that Romani evangelical pastors support the educational project and promote it in their churches.
About 300 students from a Romani background have been participating in this project since it was started, two years ago. For now, the absenteeism has fallen a 10 per cent.