On November 2, 2013 international conference on the problems of education for Roma children and integration of them into Russian schools was held in ADC “Memorial” in Saint Petersburg. Principals and teachers of schools where considerable number of Roma children study from various regions of Russia have taken part in the conference. These included teachers from Astrakhan, Lipetsk, Penza, Samara and Tula regions, as well as the representatives of the Ministry of education of Astrakhan region and participants from Lithuania and the Ukraine. School representatives spoke on their experience of integrating Roma children into primary and secondary schools, developing extra-curriculum education for Roma children, the problems and achievements they had in this process. Roma student Suleyman Yanopol from Chudovo (Leningrad region), who makes classes for pre-school children in his Roma settlement, shared his personal experience of education and expressed his views on how to help Roma children and how to motivate their parents to give their children to school in order for the kids to get proper education. Representative of the Ministry of education of Astrakhan region and the head of the Centre for civil education of this region spoke about implementation of the Complex plan for socio-economic and ethno-cultural development of Roma people in the Russian Federation.
Foreign participants of the conference spoke about education of Roma children in Lithuania and the Ukraine and the problems and achievements in this field. Representatives of ADC “Memorial” informed the conference participants about their work on defending the rights of Roma minority in Russia, the possibilities for Roma students to get scholarships from the Roma educational fund. They also demonstrated new educational books for children, which included Roma alphabet, books on the history and culture of Roma people, fairy tales in Roma language. Also presented to the audience was the Roma calendar for the year 2014, which was devoted to the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the rights of the child, which was published in bi-lingual Russian/Roma version.
The conference ended with a training session devoted to the problem of overcoming segregation in schools. Teachers attempted to be in the role of Roma children and tried to experience the negative expressions of segregation in school, which helped them to better understand that this practice should be abolished completely and Roma children should be fully integrated into mixed multi-ethnic school classes.