Cultural Mismatch in Roma Parents’ Perceptions: The Role of Culture, Language, and Traditional Roma Values in Schools

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2015


Roma education, Cultural Mismatch, Equity, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, Inclusion, Mots clés, éducation des Roms, inadéquation culturelle, équité, pédagogie pertinente sur le plan culturel, inclusion


This article draws on data from a two-year qualitative study exploring the factors contributing to Roma students’ disparate outcomes in Bulgaria. I utilize ethnographic observations, oral history, and in-depth interviews with twenty Roma parents to gain understanding of Roma children’s “cultural capital” and relation to formal schools. The article builds on theoretical orientations, generated primarily in the U.S., that emphasize strengths and the need for culturally relevant pedagogy, and explores the possibility to extend these to the case of Roma communities in Europe. The findings indicate that the traditional education of Roma children differs considerably from the mainstream values emphasized in Bulgarian schools. These include the practice of community-based, informal education, child independence, and early participation in adult life, which have the potential to make the transition from home to school problematic. I argue that if educational equity is the goal, policies and practices must shift their current focus from promoting a monocultural Bulgarian curriculum and pedagogical approaches to meaningful incorporation of culturally relevant content and creating educational environments conductive to Roma students’ learning.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Alberta Journal of Educational Reserach, v. 61, issue 4, p. 432-448