The AHEAD project, is a beacon of hope for Roma students, striving to eradicate discrimination and promote inclusive education. Through insightful interviews with Elvira Softić, a dedicated graduate in German language and literature, we gain a glimpse into the challenges faced by Roma students in higher education and the transformative power of initiatives like AHEAD organized by BRAVO.
In recent times, questions regarding the role of Roma in education have become increasingly common. Often, Roma students find themselves confronted with prejudice and discrimination, both societal and self-inflicted. The prevalent biases against Roma in various spheres, not just education, pose significant challenges. One of the major hurdles faced by Roma students, especially those who aspire for higher education, is the denial of their right to education by their parents, driven by various reasons. However, the 21st century demands equal educational opportunities for all, irrespective of their background.
Elvira Softić’s story is a testament to the transformative power of education and the unwavering support from her family. Despite the stereotypes and prejudices surrounding Roma students, Elvira’s parents served as her pillars of strength, propelling her towards her educational achievements. Elvira emphasizes the crucial role parents play in shaping a child’s educational journey. For Roma children, parental support and encouragement are essential motivators, laying the foundation for a successful future.
When asked about her personal experiences with prejudice and discrimination, Elvira shared that she was fortunate not to have faced discrimination from professors or fellow students. However, she acknowledges the prevalence of discrimination in her community, where jealousy often takes the form of questioning the academic excellence of Roma students. This experience highlights the importance of fostering a supportive and nurturing environment within educational institutions.
Elvira’s journey also underscores the significance of inclusive initiatives like AHEAD organized by BRAVO. These initiatives provide the much-needed support, mentorship, and opportunities for young Roma individuals, who might not receive encouragement from their immediate surroundings. The AHEAD project, with its innovative approach, serves as a guiding light, empowering young Roma individuals to actively participate in education and break barriers imposed by societal prejudices.
Inclusive initiatives like AHEAD play a pivotal role in reshaping the narrative around Roma education. By providing support, awareness, and mentorship, these projects enable Roma students to navigate the challenges of higher education successfully. Moreover, they inspire a sense of confidence and self-belief, crucial ingredients for Roma youth to actively engage in the educational system.
Elvira’s story reflects the resilience and determination of Roma students to overcome obstacles and achieve their dreams. Her active involvement in various projects, alongside her academic pursuits, exemplifies the potential within the Roma community. As Roma individuals continue to break barriers and shatter stereotypes, initiatives like AHEAD stand as beacons of hope, guiding them toward a brighter and more inclusive future.
As Elvira Softić eloquently states, “I am living proof that with dedication, effort, and support, Roma individuals can succeed, graduate, and find employment. The key lies in believing in oneself and having someone who believes in you.” In the shoes of Roma students, the journey might be challenging, but with initiatives like AHEAD organized by BRAVO, the path is illuminated with possibilities, paving the way for a more inclusive and equal educational landscape for all.
More about AHEAD project:
AHEAD project aims to promote between youngsters non–discrimination and to combat racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance against Roma and other Ethnic minorities (mostly migrants). Partners jointly work on innovative good practice approaches, human rights-based narratives, training, official regular meetings, and European awareness raising campaigns. The project promotes inclusion, tolerance, mutual and multicultural understanding, and fight Roma, ethnic minorities, and migrants in Europe through an innovative approach that combines research, training (national and international) on antidiscrimination and on hate speech, round tables, seminars, the exchange of good practices, meetings between different representatives, stakeholders, CSOs, and youth associations, and a massive dissemination campaign.
The project aims to contribute to strengthening the capacity building of young victims (part of minorities) and the protection of youngsters belonging to minorities by supporting them in capacity building and structuring new mechanisms in public consultations in partner’s country (replicable all over Europe) on the issue of nondiscrimination and fighting every form of hate speech against ethnic minorities, Roma and migrants.
AHEAD’s aim is to tackle hate speech (also online) and to combat discriminations that target minorities in 5 areas of civil rights: education, labor, housing, health, goods and services, through specific training offered to 200 participants and through an new approach that combines quantitative research, public meetings with stakeholders, and awareness raising campaign. After providing expertise, building competences, advocating and raising awareness among youth people, partners will support the mobilization of young victims and will focus on Capacity building actions for youth, in order to involve Youngsters in decision making and into new structured automatic mechanisms to empower their active participation on hate speech and antidiscrimination.