The Roma language is quite neglected in Montenegro because it is not officially present in the public discourse nor is it taught at University, said the EU Ambassador to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, and added that much has been done regarding the inclusion of Roma in the Montenegrin society.
At the “Roma in Education” Conference, organised on the occasion of 5 November - World Roma Day, Ambassador Orav said that there was a need to emphasise the importance of education, especially for the Roma population, because acquiring knowledge and skills can break the vicious cycle of poverty.
Orav pointed out that Montenegro can be proud of the fact that there is no segregated education for Roma schoolchildren. He recalled that Montenegro ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages as the European convention for the protection and promotion of languages used by traditional minorities, including the Roma community. He noted that improving the quality of education and equal access to education are just as important as increasing the number of Roma children in primary and secondary schools.
“We see many positive trends when it comes to the education of Roma children in Montenegro. There is an increase in the number of enrolled schoolchildren every year. Roma children receive free textbooks in elementary schools and in some towns they have free transportation to schools, as well” explained Orav.
The Minister for Human and Minority Rights, Mehmed Zenka, said that the Government is ready to do its utmost to exercise the rights of the Roma population in cooperation with all non-governmental organisations working for the interest of the Roma community. He emphasised that the Roma have always played an extremely positive and constructive role in the Montenegrin society.
"We have to work for the education of this population, they are the ones who feel the problems of their people best," advised Zenka.
photo: Luka Zekovic
The Executive Director of the NGO “Walk With Us - Phiren Amenca,” Elvis Berisa, said that, for several years, Montenegro has not implemented what the State has committed itself to by signing the Charter on Regional and Minority Languages, which is to include Roma to the education system and to enable Roma and all other interested children to study in the Roma language.
“In the last three years, we have emphasised the need to introduce the Roma language into the education system. At the beginning, this story was unknown. I think we didn't come to an understanding at the time,” Berisa explained.
He said that now the Ministries for Human and Minority Rights and Education have realised the importance of introducing the Roma language into the education system.
"I hope it goes from words to deeds," Berisa concluded.