The Educational Situation for Roma Children in Norway: Silenced Narratives on Schooling and Future
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE). 2020, 4 (1), 118-137. https://doi.org/10.7577/njcie.3578
This article explores how Roma pupils in Norway experience school. Using portraiture methodology, I narrate the experiences of Leah, Hannah and Maria, focusing on their situation before and after the transition from elementary to lower secondary school. The article demonstrates how children negotiate and are negotiated by, intersecting racializing and gendering structures, using decolonial perspectives. One key finding is the complexity in how the schools’ knowledge discourses, and subsequent practices and attitudes, play out in the girls’ agency. I emphasize the need to produce counter-narratives by identifying agency, rather than depicting Roma in positions as either exotic or marginalized. Overall, the article addresses how coloniality still produces and upholds structures of inequality that render groups like Roma as non-existent in education. Turning the lens towards the inadequacy of an educational system that struggles to recognize the need for radical structural change, the article challenges a strong metanarrative within research and public debate that depicts “the different Roma culture” as the main explanation to low educational attainment among Roma pupils. I argue that the agency of Roma in Norway, who historically have resisted formal education experienced as forced assimilation, represents a unique opportunity to critically examine and rethink how inclusion is understood and operationalized in schools. Thus, knowledge about how school is experienced by Roma pupils today constitutes a vital contribution to the needed effort to decolonialize the educational system.