AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

The marginalization of Roma children & the importance of arts-based education to engage learning

by Kathleen Frances Hall

Institution: University of Victoria
Year: 2014
Keywords: Roma; East-Central Europe; engage learning; education; arts-based; marginalized; children; best practices
Record ID: 2043978
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1828/5206


Many Roma children from the EU coming to Canada as refugees have been denied a consistent education and many suffer gaps in their learning or have not had the opportunity to receive any education at all. These circumstances are mainly due to discriminating and oppressive behaviours that have historically prevailed and exist in contemporary society. In considering the difficulty that Roma children have with education, when they arrive as refugees into Canadian schools, it is imperative that Roma children be given an opportunity to access and complete an education in an environment that is supportive, free of discrimination and sensitive to their needs as learners. My research examines the role of visual art as part of an arts-based education program as a means through which Roma children are more likely to experience success with school by participating in an educational model that is engaging and supportive of their cultural ways of knowing. This paper is a case study, grounded in critical theory, into “best practices” in education that engage marginalized Roma children with learning. The study is framed around three research questions: What is distinctly problematic for Roma children in traditional school settings? How can the arts, and art education in particular engage marginalized Roma children with learning? How can Romani arts and culture be integrated into a curriculum that works to dispel discrimination and oppression of marginalized Roma children? The study is informed by interviews with a teacher working within a Canadian educational program for refugee children, families and board members of the Toronto Roma Community Centre, as well as my own personal observations and experiences. While I have determined that arts-based education is engaging for Roma children, the bigger question that has emerged is, “How can we use arts-based education to enhance the curricular lives and school success of the Roma, a culture of exclusion?” The answer lies in acknowledging that factors such as trust, personal connection with the teacher, parental involvement, First language acquisition, refugee status, cultural preservation, and integration, play a critical role in the educational success of Roma children.