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Schools boost for Romani culture

09 May 2007

Language specialists at The University of Manchester have launched the first ever DVD-ROM devoted to the Romani language - spoken worldwide by millions of people known as Gypsies.

The free resource - called Romani: an interactive journey - will be used by tens of thousands of schoolchildren across Europe - including the UK- in a drive to increase awareness and tolerance of Romani culture.

Romani is now the largest minority language in the European Union since Romania and Bulgaria joined in January.

The content is based on research carried out by the Economic and Social Research Council funded Romani Project at the University's School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures.

The DVD is supported by the Government Department for Education and Skills as part of efforts to encourage minority languages and help pupils to discover their own cultural heritage.

The resource will also help to interest the mainstream community in Romani culture and language.

Project co-ordinator Professor Yaron Matras said: This is the first educational resource for the Romani language and will be used in schools across Europe.

It will be a powerful way to promote the heritage of a people who speak the most common minority language in the European Union.

We hope this resource will inspire governments across Europe to acknowledge Romani when they develop their policies in education and culture.

It will also make an important contribution to documenting Romani history, culture and language."

He added: The DVD's text and audio narrative appear in 18 different European languages, including of course Romani.

The text and animations follow the history of the language from ancient India where it emerged and trace its journey to Europe.

It also demonstrates modern uses of Romani in books, magazines and on the internet.

Ginny Harrison White, President of the National Association of Teachers of Travellers said:

"Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils are too often 'out of sight and out of mind'.

"It is important that schools and children are aware of the history, culture and language of children from these communities.
 
"This DVD will help schools understand Gypsy culture and ensure these children feel valued for who they are.

"It will go some way to increasing knowledge about Gypsy communities and help break down barriers of prejudice.

"Gypsy children will be proud of their identity; gain in confidence and their enthusiasm for school will improve.""

Notes for editors

The DVD is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Open Society Institute and the Next Page Foundation.

Visit the Romani Project webpage at http://www.llc.manchester.ac.uk/Research/Projects/romani/

Professor Matras is available for comment

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. More at http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk

For more details contact
Mike Addelman
Media Relations Officer
Faculty of Humanities
The University of Manchester
0161 275 0790
07717 881567
michael.addelman@manchester.ac.uk