Roma inclusion in education: fostering constructive attitudes and good practices in the Barcelona area (Vakeripen*)


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This project by GRITIM-UPF is a combination of qualitative research and practical implementation. It addresses the problematic school situation of Roma children and youth in four neighbourhoods in the Barcelona area: La Mina, Bon Pastor, El Gornal (L'Hospitalet) and Sant Roc (Badalona). Based on research confirming the central role of parental involvement and teacher training for children’s school performance, this project is designed to establish constructive and lasting channels of communication between the Roma families and the schools. We will provide forums for teacher training, dialogue and exchange between Roma families and Roma community representatives, schools and local authorities in the Barcelona area, guided by principles of reciprocity. 

The project is internationally funded but will be implemented exclusively at the local level in the Barcelona area. It was granted funding from the European Commission’s DG Justice and was launched in January, 2017, with a duration of 18 months. Besides GRITIM-UPF, the two local NGOs, Fundació Privada Pere Closa and Rromane Siklovne (Roma students) are involved as partners, and the City Council of Barcelona as associate partner.

Pere Closa and Rromane Siklovne are both directed by people with strong local networks and of Roma origin, in line with the project objectives of actively improving the integration of Roma, and fundamental to gain access to the Roma families who will participate in the project. The project will combine research (mainly through participant observation and in-depth interviews) with practical implementation through work-shops and meetings between Roma families, school staff, the local administration of Barcelona and the project team, with the main objective of preventing school failure and drop-out among Roma students in primary schools, and foster positive and egalitarian relations between schools, local authorities and Roma families. At the level of research, a model for good practices regarding Roma integration in education will be developed based on thorough documentation of the project findings by the GRITIM researchers, which is intended to be exported and implemented elsewhere.


The project has three specific aims at the level of implementation:

  1. Create awareness-raising among school teachers, in order to combat negative stereotypes about Roma families and improve the schools’ efforts to avoid school drop-out/failure among Roma children and youth;
  2. Prevent school drop-out/failure and promote a positive attitude towards education through awareness-raising among Roma families (mothers and fathers);
  3. Create a platform for regular contact and dialogue between the Roma communities and the local authorities in Barcelona, to better respond to the concerns of the Roma and prevent/address discrimination, with an emphasis on the field of education.


The GRITIM-UPF members involved in the project are Zenia Hellgren (as project director and principal investigator), Ricard Zapata (as senior researcher and GRITIM-UPF director), Lorenzo Gabrielli (as researcher) and Evren Yalaz (as researcher and coordinator).

For any questions about the project please contact Zenia Hellgren: [email protected]


*Vakeripen means "conversation" in Romani, which is the term closest to "communication" or "dialogue" in this language. It is a central concept guiding the principles of this project, and the project title used in all communication with the actors involved at the local level.