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Title: Education and the Romani (Gypsy) People: The Sikavni
Contributor(s): Morrow, Wendy-Jane (author); Harman, Kay  (supervisor); Bhindi, Narrottam (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2005
Copyright Date: 2005
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: In an earlier study Morrow (1998) argued that mainstream educational services were not catering to the needs of Romani (Gypsy) children. That study addressed the problem of illiteracy amongst the Romani people of Australia. The current study takes the next step of investigating the possible educational options for Romani students who represent an ethnic minority in Australia in education and who do not fit easily into mainstream schooling. It examines how mainstream education provision could be adapted by the Romani people to ensure their survival as a minority ethnic group, whilst participating in and contributing to mainstream society. The result is an insider's account of one alternative to mainstream schooling for Romani children. The methodology chosen is a case study of the genesis and development of a Romani Community Centre (the 'Sikavni') in terms of its ability to cater to the specific needs of its Romani students. The main data gathering tools utilised were participant observation and key participant interviews. These data were supplemented by interviews with prominent Roma in Australia. This case study illustrates how effective changes in education and schooling for Romani children must begin with understanding their needs and cultural norms. Findings highlight the failure of the education system to meet the educational needs of Romani children, expose certain deficiencies, and suggest ways to address them. The key finding of this research is that mainstream educational institutions can be effectively utilised to provide alternative, community-based education. Even though alternative education for ethnic minority children is traditionally provided in non-government schools, for some minority groups, such as the Rom, mainstream and alternative education can be effectively integrated. How such integration is managed to meet different cultural needs has implications for educational systems and managers. Findings support the ideas of Edgar (1999) who believes that the implications of the changing nature of society on education must warrant fundamental changes to the ways in which education is provided. This research provided a chance to get inside the boundaries of a culture that does not often open itself to scrutiny, to examine a prototype of alternative educational institutions where mainstream and alternative, public schooling and the community work together and to suggest ways forward for catering to the needs of Romani children.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Rights Statement: Copyright 2005 - Wendy-Jane Morrow
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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