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The Roma Of Bulgaria – Roma in Kazanlak

The Roma Of Bulgaria

Today’s Roma living in Bulgaria settle here at different times, coming from different places. The first Roma wave to the Balkans was in the 11th, 13th, 14th centuries. Due to the different names given to the Roma by Byzantine and other historians, it is not clear since when the first reports of the arrival of Gypsies in the Balkans date back. According to most gypsyologists, for the first time gypsies, under the name «atsingani», are described in «Life of St. George of Athos», dated back to 1100, telling about events from the middle of the 11th century.

Research shows that the first reliable springs for permanent settlements of Gypsies in Bulgaria are barely from the 13th-14th century. New groups of Roma settled with the arrival of the Turks and in the following centuries. In the 17th and 18th centuries, they were joined by Roma fleeing Wallachia and Moldova, where they had the status of slaves at the time. This gradually changed the source of Roma migrations in the Bulgarian lands – not from Asia Minor, but from the territories of today’s Romania.

According to data of the National Statistical Institute as of 01.02.2011 the persons who exercised the right to a voluntary answer to the question of ethnic self-determination were 320,761 citizens who self-identified as Roma. This ethnic group is the third largest. The Roma community is heterogeneous. It consists of separate groups: Daskane Roma, Horahane Roma, Kalderashya, Kalayjesi, Ludari.

In the last 15 years, the decline in the birth rate in the Roma community has been particularly pronounced. The early birth rate (per 1,000 girls under the age of 18) decreased from 690 to 508 ‰ by 2011. The Roma are the community with the highest infant mortality – 25.0 per thousand newborns or 2.6 times higher than among ethnic Bulgarians. The main reasons are mass and deep poverty, poor hygiene, early and frequent births of mothers. The Roma are the community with the highest share of premature mortality and the shortest life expectancy (Tomova, Pamporov, Milenkova, 2009).

Education

Educational level of the Roma

Both official statistics and various surveys show that the educational level among the Roma community is the lowest compared to other ethnic groups.

At the same time, there is a serious difference in the educational level of men and women in the Roma community itself. Illiterate Roma women are twice as many as men.

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The non-admission and early dropping out of Roma children is a problem for the Bulgarian society as a whole.

The reasons for the low educational level of the Roma should be sought both in the Roma community itself and in the Bulgarian educational system.

The problems in the field of education are different in the different Roma groups, each of which has its own specifics and, accordingly, different educational attitudes.

Share of children of Roma origin in the total number of students

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Since 1996, the Open Society Institute – Sofia has been assisting in the building and inclusion of the Roma community in civil society and the process of developing policies for Roma participation in the socio-political life of the country. The initiatives are aimed at supporting and civic monitoring of the process of equal integration of Roma in Bulgarian society by formulating evidence-based integration policies, overcoming negative stereotypes about Roma and promoting Roma inclusion.

Scholarship program for students of Roma origin studying in medical specialties started in 2008 with only twenty-three students at a time when practicing Roma medics were only few. Over time, the program gradually gained popularity and more and more young people of Roma origin choose to dedicate themselves to medicine. In 2010 the number of scholarship holders exceeded 100. So far, more than 400 scholarships have been awarded, and more than 250 people are already practicing in various medical institutions in Bulgaria.

The Roma in the municipality of  Kazanlak

According to data from the National Statistical Institute as of 2011 the Roma in the municipality of Kazanlak number 3738 people, according to the self-determination of the persons, with a relative share of 5.5% compared to the national average of 4.9%.

There are two ethnic neighborhoods in the town of Kazanlak: one in the Carmen neighborhood with a total of 117 apartments, and the other in the Kasmera area. There are also Roma neighborhoods in the small settlements of Kazanlak municipality. These are the village of Hadjidimitrovo, the village of Sheynovo, the village of Buzovgrad, the village of Gorno Cherkovishte, the village of Razhena.

Two health mediators (also of minority origin) have been appointed to the municipal administration, who work in the separate Roma neighbourhoods and neighbourhoods on the territory of the town of Kazanlak.

Since 2015 A youth mediator has been appointed to the municipality under the national program «Activation of inactive persons». The mediator consults and informs young people up to the age of 29 who do not work, do not study and are not registered with the Labour Office Directorate

In 2019 an educational mediator has been appointed in our school. The aim of the educational mediator is to be an intermediary between families, local communities, students and the school. To contribute to the coverage and quality of school education of the students in the school, as well as to promote cooperation between the parents of students at risk of dropping out with the pedagogical specialists in the school. Every year about 12% of students that start their education at our school are Roma and 8 % of them  graduate. It is a good number according to the statistics that show 20% start their education and only 1.7 % manage to finish their education. This is a good assessment about the work with Roma students at our school.

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