London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Providing psychological and counselling services to Roma students: A preliminary report for a three-year longitudinal project

Author(s) Dimakos, I. & Papakonstantinopoulou, A.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2012  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Creating Communities: Local, National and Global  
Age group -  
The purpose of this report is to present preliminary results from a specific action of a development project on the psychosocial and counselling support of Roma students in Western Greece. Roma children are part of one of the largest minorities in Greece. Within the framework of multicultural education, the goal of the project is to alleviate the lack of educational opportunities and reduce the marginalization of Roma children. Ultimately, the goal of the entire project is the empowerment of Roma community members to create active citizens and develop citizenship identity. The particular action affected approximately 450 Roma students attending 10 specifically selected public elementary schools and 5 kindergartens with large concentrations of Roma students. The action team, consisting of psychologists, social workers and special educators, interacted with Roma students on a weekly basis. Team members organized individual and group counselling meetings, confidence-building and emotion awareness exercises. Furthermore, team members regularly consulted with and offered psychological support to teachers of the schools involved in the project in order to facilitate teacher-student interactions. Preliminary results suggested the following: an increase of new school registrations for Roma students has been noted. Interviews with Roma students indicated great interest to participate in the programme and to remain in the school throughout the academic year. As the project continues into its second year, it is expected that the numbers of students involved with the project will further increase. It is also expected that the rate of school dropout will decrease even more and the level of Roma students’ school performance will improve. Nevertheless, despite these positive results, external negative factors affecting the progress of the programme have been identified: hidden racism towards Roma students and their families and a general disapproval of Roma students attending the local schools in specific areas. Keywords: Roma children, psychological support, counselling, schooling Introduction

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