Friday, May 24, 2013

Multilingual Education

Multilingual education has been proven to improve reading and writing skills, enhance the learning experience for the children (and thus also the teaching experience for the teachers!) and improve children's overall learning abilities as well as their confidence (and chances for further education...). In order for people to be able to use this in in a Roma context, people would have to agree to teaching Roma children to read and write in their own language first, before switching those skills to any national language after a year or two.

The reason why this is not happening is that
  1. It is largely unknown and when people first hear about it they think it is impossible and undesirable, so it needs a lot of promotion and explanation.
  2. It is a lot of work at first to get teaching materials in Roma languages, train teachers, but first of all, convince people of the benefits of this and set up teaching situations where this can happen.
Personnel are needed with a vision and with enough time and money to get this started, an investment of at least 2 years. Then supervision needs to happen too, and follow up, with ongoing involvement and training needed for many more years. Who is going to do all this? It needs a team.

For information on multilingual education or to express an interest in joining the team, contact Mary van Rheenen via this blog.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Poverty as broken relationships: Life in Lunik IX

I came across this fascinating look at Lunik IX, an infamous Roma settlement in Kosice, Slovakia - a short documentary by Artur Conka.  He was born in Lunik IX, but emigrated with his family and went on to graduate with honors from the University of Derby, England. 

These scenes are familiar. I have been in these apartments several times.  I personally know people who live there today.  As I watch this short documentary, realizing that it is without the full sounds and smells that accompany a visit to Lunik IX, I am reminded of the definition of poverty emerging from the work of Christian development theologies as represented by Bryant Myers, author of Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development - that poverty represents the broken image of God in humanity.

Sin as brokenness is reflected not only in our relationship with God.  We also can suffer broken relationships with ourselves, with others, and with the environment.  As long as any of these are broken, we suffer in poverty.  Poverty is more than not having food to eat or living in filth.  Those things can be resolved with enough investment.  However, unless the poverty of broken relationships is overcome through reconciliation with God, with ourselves, with others, and with the environment is addressed, then no amount of investment is able to restore the image of God in persons.  The healing of the environment in Lunik IX and the Romani people who call it home is rooted in restoring healthy relationships.

Though you may not be familiar with places like Lunik IX, you are probably familiar with the poverty of broken relationships.  How do you bring healing to those situations?  How does your church seek to bring reconciliation in your community?