Without a regular access to schooling and its good quality, the vulnerable people will face unemployment and bad quality of life. That is why we focus on education for the youngest. For Roma children, the access to kindergarten and elementary school is a way to socialization and integration into the Bulgarian society.
Preschool education of children is of special significance for ZOV since this is the stage when children are prepared for their elementary education in school. For the Roma, this is the time for integration in a uniform educational system through improvement of their command of the Bulgarian language and building of basic habits for learning, social conduct, hygiene, health prevention and adaptation. This is also the time and stage for active work with Roma parents to raise their awareness on the importance of education for the development and personal growth of their children. The importance of this work is on a par with the provision of quality and attractive education tailored to the perceptions of the Roma people.
If Roma do not attend preschool they will will faced serious difficulties in the elementary school. ZOV aspires to bridge the transition from kindergarten to elementary school for the Roma children. Our goal is to keep students in school and to work with the parents on involvement in extracurricular activities alongside their children. We pay special attention to the improved quality of teaching in pre-school and elementary school.
In the six regions where ZOV is implemented, we work with our partners towards the following objectives:
- To reduce to a minimum the number of Roma children dropping out of school and to help their reintegration in the educational system;
- To open new groups in kindergartens and build/refurbish kindergarten facilities (Sliven, Montana, Zvezdets) so that more Roma children could attend and be educated;
- To improve the quality of teaching for Roma in preschools and elementary schools;
- To improve the command of the Bulgarian language of the Roma children to help the integration of Roma in the Bulgarian society;
- To raise parents’ awareness on the benefits of education and to motivate them to encourage their children to go to school;
- To improve the services provided by the educational mediators To train teachers for effective work in multicultural environment.
Our goal is to make the Programme sustainable through cooperation with the central authorities and the sustainability of funding beyond 2019, when ZOV will be compeleted.
A variety of surveys and studies prove that Roma in Bulgaria, in general and Roma children, young women and mothers in particular have serious health problems and suffer from chronic diseases typical for all vulnerable groups. Many Roma do not receive adequate treatment for years because of simply insufficient availability of medical services, or lack of access to them or because of unpaid health insurances. This situation is further aggravated by the tradition of early marriages, the small chances for employment and the early school leaving,
ZOV addresses those Roma who have health-insurance rights but no health registration, and helps with registering with a general practitioner. For the unemployed, the issue with health insurances still remains but under the project we support medical consultations and screerings of young mothers and pregnant women. Our ultimate goal is the improved health and access to medical services.
Child healthcare: Bulgaria is among the EU Member States with the highest infant mortality rate. The goal of ZOV is to support the efforts at central and local levelsto reverse this trend through improved access to quality primary health services and paediatric healthcare in particular.
Care for pregnant women and young mothers: A large number of Roma women have no health insurance, and at the same time, birthrate is the highest among them, especially in the age group 13-18. TheThe majority of pregnant Roma women do not see the doctor to monitor their pregnancies and their first medical check is, in fact, when the child is delivered. The goal of ZOV is to work for the reversal of this trend and for rendering support to the GP and Obstetric consulting rooms in locations where such specialists are deficient or missing.
ZOV scope of activities is the following:
- To provide access to primary healthcare for more people byopening positions for general practitioners;
- To improve the quality of maternal and child healthcare and the access to it;
- To provide services in the area of reproductive health and to raise awareness on the subject of family planning and reproductive health;
- To work for the recruitment of new health mediators in the Roma neighbourhoods and to improve the quality and efficiency of their work.
Empowerment and Culture
The two main priority areas of ZOV – health and education – are complemented by an empowerment of Roma component. Through culture initiatives and sports events we encourage Roma integration and promote Roma identity and confidence. The Programme aims to highlight the positive image of Roma, which has not been the focus of public attention so far, and has often been disregarded by Bulgarian society. These initiatives are intertwined with the Programme’s main activities and enhance their effect.
In this area we have the following scope of activities:
To encourage the participation of Roma families in community life through culture and sports, joint celebrations of holidays and Roma traditions;
- To improve the outreach of local governments, teachers and physicians to Roma community;
- To showcase success stories of people from these vulnerable communities that might act as role models.
See our concrete activities in each of the six regions