The project TERNO (Teachers Education for Roma New Opportunities in School) is a project co-financed by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission (Key Activity 1: Roma Multilateral Projects) which aims to set up and implement special support centres in order to support the Roma children that attend the last classes of the elementary school to complete primary education and pass on to the secondary education.

The general objective of the project is to prevent the early school leaving of the Roma children and support the Roma children to move from the elementary to the secondary education. The project aims to improve the participation/maintanance in school for children with low living standard by overpassing the lack of interest towards traditional learning methods. The specific objective with which the general objective will be achieved is through the training of the teachers (or teaching assistants) that are teaching Roma in order to support the Roma children to complete the elementary education.

The main result that the TERNO project has developed are Centres for the provision of supplementary education for Roma children that are completing the elementary education and are preparing to pass to the secondary education. The organization of these centres was based on a methodology which has included all the important elements in order to help teachers of Roma children to better support children that attend the last classes of the school to complete elementary education and pass to the secondary education.

The consortium of the project is multi-actor, it has a great experience in the field and it has complementary competencies. It is constituted from 6 partners from 5 countries (Greece, Spain, Italy, Hungary and Romania). In the project they participate, 3 Roma Associations, one NGO led by Roma, a Research Institute which is specialized in the education research for the Roma people and an organization specialized in the development of research methodologies and management of LLP projects.

Tab 1 The Project

Tab 2 General Objectives and Activities

Tab 3 Main Results

Tab 4 Partners

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teacher training methodology

national research reports

Research Outline


For a number of reasons Roma children constitute an especially vulnerable group among migrant and minority students in Europe. In accounting for their educational difficulties, it is important to consider the complexity of their problems, including the various components of low socio-economic status and cultural marginalization, constantly reinforced by ethnic prejudices and discrimination.Ideally, education could serve as a means to break out of this cycle and promote the social inclusion and upward mobility of Roma people. However, as evidence shows, schools notoriously fail to accomplish this mission. Such state of affairs points to the need of reforming methods and practices used in education. Pedagogic innovations, first of all, should aim at making Roma pupils feel comfortable at school and in the classroom, which is essential for their enhanced participation and performance.

Research to be conducted in participating countries is essential in accomplishing the TERNO project. The main idea is to map out shared problems and expectations regarding the education of Roma children, while also acknowledging differences in contexts, situations and exigences.

Research objective

The overall objective of the research is to provide useful information for the development of a training methodology to be used in the supplementary education of teachers dealing with Roma pupils. In addition, while doing research, participants will gain insight regarding their choice of schools, school personnel, students and parents they intend to work with during later phases of the project.

While acknowledging the diversity of Roma communities living in Europe and the variety of problems Roma children and youth face in school, there are certainly a number of key areas to focus upon. These problems range from the lack of material means and the capacity of families to provide for the conditions of schooling ot their children, to harmful educational policies and practices, the negative attitude of peers, teachers and the broader social environment, and the daily experiences of discrimination. Alongside these factors, (disrespect for) cultural and linguistic differences may also play a role in hindering the educational career of Roma pupils.

Research in the framework of the TERNO project intends to uncover the crucial factors behind the comparatively low educational achievement of Roma students and their vulnerability to dropout. In doing so, it aims to account for the problems these pupils cope with at school, as well as identify the difficulties faced by their teachers and parents in trying to help them. The different aspects of the education of Roma children will be investigated in their concrete manifestations observed in the target schools. However, some information regarding the national educational systems and policies in the participating countries will also be collected so as to enable the interpretation of research data.


It has been widely acknowledged that ethnicity – in an interplay with social, economic, cultural, gender and other factors – shapes distinctions in the everyday working of schools. The underlying dynamic leading to such effects partly originates in the false impression that certain social groups have very different schooling demands, abilities and ambitions than others; the fact that we all face the same challenges and strive to get along in the same society is easily rendered to oblivion by the overstressing of differences. As a matter of fact, the presumption of differences becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as differential treatment produces actual differences in educational performance. Yet, in confounding causes with effects, distinctions normally gain justification in differences in school performance that, in turn, become the bases for departing advancements. Coupled with other institutional and social factors – contraselection of the educational personnel, infrastructural deterioration of schools where a high rate of students come from underprivileged social groups, attempts of middle-class parents to enrol their children in better schools (the so-called ’white flight’ – such misconceptions that are founded in ethnic differences produce and maintain the dynamic of educational segregation, which is a fundamental ill in terms of the educational opportunities of Roma children.

The ill treatment of certain kinds of students and inadequate responses given to their particular needs may be motivated by the best of intentions, yet go as far as resulting in severe discrimination. The intention of the present research is uncover such misunderstandings or misconceptions and reveal the genuine needs and expectations of Roma pupils and their parents regarding education, in an attempt to mitigate the negative consequences of discrimination and marginalization.

Research design

The research is organized into several stages and steps. Lists of questions, questionnaires and codebooks will aid participants in obtaining and processing data. The final output of country teams will consist of national reports, structured into short sections responding to particular queries. The Hungarian team will then synthesize national reports and provide a comparative analysis of country experiences in the form of a needs assessment presented in an ethical and conceptual framework upholding the values of anti-discrimination and equal opportunities. This comparative analysis will serve as the basis of the teachers’ training methodology.

The first phase of research consists of desk research mapping the social and policy background in each country, with particular attention to local features considering the schools involved in the research. In contextualizing later findings, information gathered during this phase will support the interpretation of the specific issues to be encountered during field research. Data will be collected on the living conditions of the Roma minority and other factors influencing their educational opportunities. Thus the main characteristics of inter-ethnic relations, shaped by historical and ideological factors, the social status of Roma people and their typical ways of living and working will be overviewed, alongside with the general traits of the educational system and the place and treatment of Roma pupils within this system.

During the second phase, participants will conduct field research. Methodological tools to accomplish this task include a list of questions on the research site, a teachers’ questionnaire, interviews and focus group discussions. Data collected by these methods will be used in analyzing basic needs and local features/priorities concerning the education of Roma children. Teachers’ questionnaires serve the understanding of teaching methods used in the schools as well as reveal (the teachers’ perceptions regarding) interactions between teachers and pupils and among peers, relationship with the parents, etc. Interviews and focus group discussions will be recorded with the main actors directly determining the educational experiences of Roma pupils, i.e. school principals and representatives of school authorities, teachers, parents, educational experts and/or representatives of organizations providing educational services to Roma pupils and possibly with Roma pupils themselves. These individual and collective interviews, consisting of reflections on local educational practices from different perspectives, will be a valuable source of information concerning incidental gaps and ideas of how to improve teaching methodologies. It is advisable that research take place on the site where participants intend to test the teachers’ training methodology. In this way, research experience can be utilized more directly in developing this methodology, as well as in recruiting interested teachers, organizing the pilot training course and setting up ’reference points’ or specialized learning centers for disadvantaged Roma students, as envisioned in the project framework.

Róza Vajda and Mária Neményi


This project is co-funded by the European Commission. This publication reflects the views of the author only and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use of the information contained therein.

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