Erika Schlager, Counsel for International Law at the Commission, led a discussion about a documentary on Roma school desegregation. “Our School” follows three Romani children in a rural Transylvanian village who are among the pioneer participants in an initiative to integrate the ethnically segregated Romanian schools. When their district is ordered desegregated, Alin, Benjamin, and Dana set out for the city school, optimistic for education and new friendships, even as funds earmarked for integration are questionably used to build a “Roma-only” school in their village. Their story touches on issues ranging from institutionalized racism, public education, and the intractability of poverty, and culminates in an unexpected outcome.
Schlager was joined by Costel Bercus, Serban Brebenel, and Mona Nicoara, commented on the struggles Roma populations all over Europe continued to face, which were highlighted in the film. They discussed various organizations who work with the Roma, to overcome the education gaps that do exist between Roma children and children in the majority populations and the work that still needs to be done to close that gap.