- Montenegro’s roughly 620 thousand population has somewhat multicultural assets with approximately 20 to 30 thousand Roma people and a significant Egyptian and Askhaeli community.
- As the 2018 Civil Rights Defenders’ report highlights, there is a systematic discrimination against minority groups in Montenegro which affects all aspects of their lives. This is reflected in high unemployment rates, low enrolment rates in educational institutions, and poor living conditions.
- Roma and Egyptian children are disadvantaged in the education system, and their attendance rate and enrolment rates in educational institutions reflects this. For instance, only 190 Roma children were attending in preschool in 2017, although it is an improvement compared to the previous year where 103 was enrolled in preschool.
- The high primary school drop-out rate of 11% among Roma and Egyptian children further demonstrates the seriousness of the issue, as only 49% of Roma children enrol in secondary education.
- According to the National Platform on Roma Integration Montenegro report in 2018, the country was recommended to work more on the inclusiveness of Roma people in education and to enhance their social and academic chances to achievement. 1860 Roma children were enrolled in primary school in 2018, while their number was only 1622 in 2017 which shows positive patterns in terms of enrolment. As for secondary school, their number reached 142 in 2018, which also shows improvements compared to the 112 students who were enrolled in 2017. However, only 27 Roma students studied at the university level in 2018.
- It is also common, that children from lower socioeconomic background have difficulties in accessing education and are more likely to drop out of school. Socioeconomic status also often collides with ethnicity, meaning that many Roma and Egyptian children have difficulties in accessing educational facilities and institutions. They often cannot afford to buy the necessary equipment for school, neither can they pay for transportation, while children having to help parents to make ends meet is not uncommon either.
- To increase the number of enrolled students and to reduce dropout rates, it is important to support families and communities coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Providing free transportation to school and mediators, especially for Roma and Egyptian children, can have a significantly positive impact on enrolment rates.
- Broken Chalk welcomes the government’s efforts in taking measures to provide scholarships and mentoring programs to children from low socioeconomic background to enhance their enrolment rate in schools and universities.
- Child labour in Montenegro is also a serious issue. Children are frequently forced to beg on the streets or are subject to sexual exploitation and all forms of human trafficking.
- Montenegro has taken some steps to combat this issue, such as introducing a new labour law that regulates the working conditions of minors. The government has also increased the budget allocated for labour inspections to investigate the working conditions of minors. However, the research found that programs directed to stop children’s work on the streets like forced begging are not effective. The state did take some steps to deal with victims of trafficking, such as establishing an identification team for victims and an operational team that helps to tackle human trafficking.
- Despite all efforts, there is still a lot to improve, particularly regarding the legal system which would need special legal advisors who are equipped with the necessary skills to deal with human trafficking cases, especially when they involve minors.
- Another crucial issue to address is corporal punishment against children in schools and in households in Montenegro. While laws and regulations prohibit such practices in all settings, it is still not entirely eliminated. To ensure the safety and rights of children, Montenegro adopted changes in schools, primary health care, and social services in this regard, especially after research showed that the suicide rates and drug abuse are higher among those who experienced physical abuse during their childhood.
By Noor Mousa43rd_Session_UN-UPR_Country_Review_Montenegro
Cover image by WallpaperFlare.