Opposite to the majorities, Roma do not have their own land and – with limits – also no national identity. What unites them beyond borders of the countries they live in, are their myths, habits and traditions. For the preserving and further development of their cultural identity, their language – Romanes – is indispensable.
At the beginning of their migration from India, Romanes (actually Romani – coming from romani chip, „Roma language“) was still a common language. The long way that has been leading Roma for centuries over different continents and countries finally to Europe, but also their often long stay in those countries caused that Romanes fell apart in different dialects. Through the years, more and more words of the according country language were taken over into Romanes or the respective dialects.
In a few European countries, e.g. Romania and Spain, it was forbidden for Roma for a long duration of time to speak their own language. This has also contributed to the loss of the common language.
Until the younger past, Romanes was mainly only a spoken and orally inherited language. Unfortunately, until today no successfully standardised Romanes exists. Besides, it is written in several alphabets – Latin, Cyrillic and Devanagari.
Despite all that, about 4.5 million Roma living in Europe speak Romanes. It is recognised in Macedonia and Kosovo as official regional language and in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and Romania as minority language.
Due to the century lasting social and cultural stigmatization and discrimination of Roma and their language, the use of Romanes as literature and stage language was prevented. This led to the fact that Romanes could never really be anchored in education.
In adult education it plays almost no role at all. With consideration of the fact that the participation of Roma in education after the obligatory school decreases relevantly, it gets clear that adult education is for many Roma older than 18 years the only possibility to educated themselves further, to balance education deficits and – even if late – to participate in lifelong learning.
Therefore, our project aimed at preserving Romanes as relevant part of the cultural identity of Roma and to utilise it for concrete offers of adult education.
The two years Strategic Partnership for the exchange of good practice was realised by organisations from Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, North Macedonia and Romania.
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