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Transition to adulthood of Roman young people in Navarra


  • Romany people: a history of educational and social disadvantage

    There is generalised consensus on the educational disadvantage of the Romany people, identified as a vulnerable group at risk of suffering social exclusion processes. Curiously, in evermore heterogeneous schools, worthy of an inclusive model, the Roman population still remains segregated, even within the actual schools. The majority of studies in this community have focussed on documenting the serious consequences of these segregation experiences that, for many children and young people, represent a forerunner to social discrimination, lack of opportunities to get on to other training courses, segregation in the workplace, etc.

    Specifically, and according to the national centre for innovation and educational research (2014), 64.4% of Roman boys aged 16-24 years old did not get a secondary school leaving certificate. From 15 years old onwards, there is a steady drop in the number of young people in school, highly significant between the ages of 15 and 16 (when education is no longer compulsory). These alarming figures show radical weaknesses in the training process for young Romany whose needs have not been taken sufficiently into account. Some of the problem situations in this regard are:

    • Irregular attendance

    • Failure in the transition from primary to secondary

    • Segregation in activities and contexts (tendency to form ghettos of students that do not fit into the system)

    • Lack of educational culture in the families (who do not feel represented or involved in the system)

    • Lack of effective communication between professionals and families.

    • Stress associated with certain life circumstances that make it difficult to meet educational goals (barriers related to low income, job market, etc.).

    On the other hand, there is still a monoculture educational focus that brings about exclusion and that appears associated with certain attitudes of hostility towards diversity. There is still a certain tendency to get by with minimum pedagogy, from a deficit model that, among other things, helps strengthen stereotypes: when a student grasps that nothing is expected of him, he will achieve nothing. In the language of inclusion, it seems that Roman students are in the system but they neither learn nor participate.

  • Atmosphere in the Province of Navarra

    Given the priority local scope of the proposal being presented, some relevant ideas should be highlighted on the situation of the Romany population in Navarra. In this respect, situations are corroborated that have already been highlighted nationally or internationally: lack of access to early education; standardised access to the education system between 3 and 16 years old, although scare continuation to higher levels; obstacles for regular attendance and continuity in the later phases of compulsory education and the presence of exclusion experiences such as dropping out of school in different sections of compulsory education; continuous absenteeism; and early drop-out before access to the secondary stage. As a consequence, the 1st Integral Care Plan for the Romany Population in Navarra (2011-2014) established the priority of improving skills among agents working in the educational field, with the intention of improving the quality of interventions with Romany students. Despite making progress, improving educational inclusion is still considered an urgent target.

    Over the last few years, the Federation of Navarra Romany Associations, Gaz Kaló, has been carrying out specific projects to improve education experiences for Romany children and young people, some of which have had a very positive impact (for example, "School promoter" project or the "Off I go to school" awareness-raising campaign). We understand this project as a way of continuing to design and implement educational actions that contribute to social change and follow the path initiated by professionals in direct care, as well as Romany students and their families. 

  • Why focus on self-determination?

    The stakes are even higher for segregation or educational exclusion during adolescence; specifically in the transition stage to adult life. This specific point is particularly complex for vulnerable young people. In one way or another, many young Romany make a sudden transition from school to adult life, plagued with difficulties derived, to a large extent, from not holding a school leaving certificate.

    Taking all the above into account, it seems clear that educational training for Romany teenagers should be oriented towards these academic and personal skills that are necessary to tackle the challenges of adult life. A turnaround is required from the aforementioned deficit model towards a skills training or empowerment model. In this respect, we consider self-determination as a priority target and educational resource for students to take an active role in their transition process into adult life, experiencing full knowledge, motivation, responsibility and sense. Only when the person feels and knows that they are in control of their own training process are they in a position to undertake their own life project.

    The concept of self-determination has taken on special relevance over recent decades in the context of the research with students from vulnerable groups, and at-risk of social and educational exclusion (above all, students with disabilities). Specifically, self-determination is defined as the skills required to become the causal agent in your own life and maintain or improve your well-being and implies autonomy, self-regulation, psychological empowerment, and self-realization. Research along these lines shows how self-determination among students with specific support needs is related to educational success as well as positive results in social and job-related inclusion.

    In particular, an educational environment that provides opportunities to improve and practice self-determination habits would represent a way of overcoming barriers such as negative behaviour towards formalised learning; negative self-concept; immaturity in terms of coming up with positive life alternatives; lack of knowledge of support services to help get a job; lack of autonomy to move socially outside their family, peer groups or neighbourhood; lack of support and fear of failure in the light of demands from new environments and lack of trust in social resources.

    The topic of self-determination was tackled previously by the research team for this PIUNA project, applied in the field of disability. This project represents the opportunity to continue with this path and focus attention towards another group of students that, although they have not been the focus of research so far, could benefit widely from the knowledge accumulated on this topic.


Araceli Arellano Torres
Main researcher

General contact:
School of Education and Psychology
31009 Pamplona

+34 948 425 600