GRUBB School’s aim is to improve the academic outlook of young Roma people. It provides programmes to support their mainstream schooling, with a shared emphasis on academic education and the arts, particularly the performing arts. One of the most important things that young Roma people learn from taking part in the GRUBB show is how to commit to a project and take pride in the results of that commitment. We believe that this approach can also be applied to their academic learning within the GRUBB Schools thereby improving their confidence, their education, their employment prospects and ultimately, their pride in their Roma heritage.
In 2006 RPOINT, the organization that subsequently formed GRUBB FORWARD and GRUBB Productions CIC, started the first tutoring centre in Nis, a Southern Serbian city with a large Roma population. Teaching all academic subjects at primary and secondary levels on a daily basis, the centre allowed and encouraged Roma children to stay in mainstream school and to pass their exams.
A few months later music and dance workshops were added to the curriculum. These proved so popular that further centres in Belgrade and Novi Sad were started with a stronger emphasis on music and dance.
The aim was to give Roma children a voice and to allow them to celebrate their own unique cultural heritage. The children perform their compositions in local concerts and, since 2007, have performed at the EXIT Festival to public acclaim, thereby increasing GRUBB popularity within the Roma community.
GRUBB Schools are open to all young Roma up to the age of eighteen; a prerequisite of taking part, however, is that the children regularly attend their mainstream school. Close contact with schools, and with parents, is maintained throughout so as to monitor progress. This provides the young people with a strong support network whilst also encouraging individual responsibility.
In a short space of time GRUBB began working with these local schools on joint projects such as choirs, music and theatre workshops. More recently sports, games clubs and English language workshops have been provided, encouraging integration with non-Roma pupils.
Gradually the GRUBB Schools curricula have been broadened to include creative writing, photographic and art workshops taught both by visiting internationally renowned practitioners and local teachers. Further instrumental lessons support the singing and dance programmes already in place.
An added incentive to work hard at GRUBB School is provided through the possibility of being allowed to perform in local concerts, or in the GRUBB show itself. The children who do take part become extremely positive role models, as do those who have gone on to join the staff at GRUBB School.