On Friday the Comprehensive Plan for the Roma People held a ceremony to award diplomas to Roma who had successfully completed training activities organised through the Plan over the last year.
The diploma ceremony, which was held at La Caixa Foundation’s Palau Macaya in Barcelona, was attended by more than 70 people to celebrate the excellent results of Roma who had taken part in trainings organised over the last year through the Comprehensive Plan for the Roma People.
The event’s opening speakers were: Bernat Valls, Director General for Civic and Community Action at the Catalan government’s Department of Labour, Social Affairs and Family; Ramon Vílchez, head of the Romani People and Social Innovation Programme; and Manuel Fernández, Second Vice-President of the Romani Advisory Board of Catalonia. Ramon Vílchez emphasised the importance of working with Roma, listening to their ideas, putting these ideas into action, and spreading the responsibility of launching initiatives between the Romani people and government. “If we make mistakes, we’ll do it together”, said Vílchez. One of the hallmarks of the Comprehensive Plan for the Roma People is the participation of Roma in the design and implementation of actions aimed at improving the socioeconomic status of the Romani community.
In this vein, over the past year the Plan has made a firm commitment to improving the level of training offered to Roma. In Tarragona and Lleida, training initiatives have been implemented to help Roma people earn a Compulsory Secondary Education (GESO) diploma. In Barcelona a preparatory course to help people over 25 and 45 years old pass university entrance examinations has also been run. Also held was a specialised course in mediation applied to the Romani social context, as well as a course for child and youth leisure activity counsellors in Viladecans. A total of 39 people have successfully completed such training programmes and obtained their well-deserved certificates. Bernat Valls encouraged everyone “to go out to universities, schools, and installations with the aim of improving them and in the process improving your own lives and those of other Roma who will follow in your footsteps”.
In his speech, Manuel Fernández explained that family-based trainings are “very appropriate for Roma, as they help us progress together, because we like to do things all together”. He also emphasised that “promoting the educational success of our children is a challenge that should be accepted by all Roma as well as by institutions”.
The ceremony featured the “godmother” figure of Dr Arnetha Ball, one of the most prestigious researchers in the field of education and cultural minorities and a lecturer at the Graduate School of Education at Stanford, one of the world’s top five universities. In her moving talk, she congratulated all graduates and especially their families, and she also acknowledged the role of “elderly uncles and aunts who, while not here now, made it possible for us to get here”. Ball reminded them that “this is a global fight that we will be in together, for as long as there is injustice in the world”. She also encouraged graduates to keep fighting for the whole of society. “As you move forward and get educated, you will earn degrees. Many use this training as a ticket to a better, easier and more financially rewarding life. But this is not for us. As long as there are still people without access to education, we must continue the fight. I congratulate you on your education while also encouraging you to make it a ticket to transform the world”, proclaimed Arnetha Ball.