The Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, presented yesterday at the Ateneo de Madrid the results of an exploratory pilot study that analyzes the school segregation of Roma students in six Spanish cities : Seville, Almería, Alicante, Valladolid and some districts of Madrid and Barcelona.
The event was inaugurated by the General Director of the FSG, Isidro Rodríguez, and the Deputy General Director of Evaluation and Territorial Cooperation of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Purificación Llaquet.
Next, the FSG’s Department of Education presented the main results of the Study, followed by two roundtables: one for Reactions to the Study, with representatives of the Spanish and European public administration, and another Roundtable for Dialogue with experts and representatives of civil society. Mónica Domínguez, general director of Evaluation and Territorial Cooperation of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, and Sara Giménez, president of the FSG, closed the event.
The Study carries out a quantitative analysis of the phenomenon of school segregation of Roma students, with the aim of making visible a specific reality that highlights the educational inequality of Roma students and thereby promoting the taking of a series of measures and actions adapted to reverse and prevent the processes of school segregation.
” Educational segregation puts the opportunities for social progress of Roma people at risk “, according to the general director of the FSG, also emphasizing that, although “we have made progress in the legislative framework, specific measures are needed to address the segregation of students. It is It is necessary to keep this issue on the political agenda and for the Autonomous Communities to implement reversal plans to respond to this situation”.
Today, knowledge about the school segregation of Roma students is very limited, therefore, having data is essential to know a hidden reality and to be able to promote measures that address it effectively. This study therefore contributes to shedding light on this reality, pointing out some guidelines on the possible dimension of school segregation of Roma students and the factors that are affecting the school careers of some of these students.
School segregation violates the right to education and current legislation, negatively affects quality and school performance and has a clear impact on school failure of girls and boys . And in the specific case of Roma children, it significantly reduces their opportunities for advancement and social progress.
Given the complexity of addressing segregation in schools, this issue has only moved up the political agenda in recent years. The new Organic Law on Education, LOMLOE, which entered into force in January 2021, already incorporates specific measures in its articles, both to reverse and to avoid the concentration of students in vulnerable situations. It does so by including measures related to admission to centers and with criteria that regulate that admission, in order to balance access scores and avoid restrictive use by some centres. In addition, it specifies that there must be equality in the application of admission standards, both for public and private centers.
The Study has been carried out with a sample of 138 schools in which 6,563 Roma students study out of a total of 75,804.
According to the data analysed, five out of every 10 Roma students in the sample are enrolled in segregated schools (>30%) and four out of ten are in schools with severe and extreme segregation (>42.8%).
Ethnic origin is a factor that conditions and aggravates low socioeconomic conditions. This idea coincides with what has been stated by some authors who speak of the existence of a specific ethnic segregation, linked to other types of segregation such as socioeconomic segregation, which contributes to a social reproduction that harms the most vulnerable.
Overestimating the number of Roma students in classrooms is a trend that the Study also includes. Many schools with levels of segregation below 30% perceive a high number of Roma students, probably due to the need for specific training to deal with teaching practice with this student body .
It is also found that Roma students have very short school careers if they are in a segregated center, tending to drop out around the 2nd year of ESO. However, they are more likely to continue with post-compulsory studies if their schooling takes place in non-segregated centers .
The margin of decision of the families to choose a center, when the student has attended a segregated CEIP, is less than if he or she has been schooled in a non-segregated one or one with a low concentration. According to the Study, this supports the idea that not always having a wide area of choice entails equity in the allocation of schools. Families with less social and economic capital are usually those that tend, to a greater extent, to choose centers closer to their place of residence, among other determining factors.
The implementation of innovative projects/measures to combat segregation does not seem to be reflected in a greater attraction of new profiles to these centers to generate greater diversity, although there are success stories at the individual level.
The lack of legislative response to date, the composition effect, together with the “flight” of schools from other social sectors with greater purchasing power or what is known as (white flight), are some of the widely studied elements, which could explain this difficulty in reversing the situation of segregated centers, despite implementing innovative methodologies and even incorporating some type of ad hoc regulatory measures, as Catalonia, Castilla y León or the Valencian Community have done or are doing, for example.