Roma continued to be subject to social marginalization and societal discrimination and often lacked proper access to education and other government

services. While the government adopted a Roma Action Plan for 2011-2015, in practice its social inclusion policy did not target Roma. According to the 2004 census, there were 12,271 Roma in Moldova. However, Romani NGOs estimate this number to be as high as 250,000, including 100,000 persons of voting age. NGOs asserted that government census forms allowed persons to identify with only one ethnic group and that many Roma declined to identify themselves as Roma.

A 2011 UN report on the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in the country noted that the Roma Action Plan was primarily a medium for cultural events. Roma policy was supervised by the Bureau on Interethnic Relations, a Soviet-era

institution which focused primarily on cultural events, hosting roundtables and conferences but lacking the authority to exercise oversight of ministries with regard to social inclusion.

The literacy level of the Roma was well below the national average. Officially 25 percent of Roma could not read or write. Romani NGOs estimated that 80 percent of Romani children were illiterate. Many Romani children--estimated to be as high as 50 percent--did not attend school. Very few Roma received a secondary education, and only 4 percent of Roma had a higher education degree, compared with 38 percent of non-Roma.

The reasons for school nonattendance by Romani children included the lack of financial means to buy clothing and books for school; unofficial school fees required for repairs, supplies, and other school expenses; and the discrimination that Romani children faced when attending school. According to Romani families, their children were subject to hazing and discrimination from both fellow students and teachers. The government did not provide education in the Romani language.

Surveys indicated that 30 percent of Roma in Moldova lived in housing in a high state of disrepair, as opposed to 7 percent for the general population.

Other concerns with respect to the Roma included denial of emergency health care services to Roma in secluded Romani settlements, unfair or arbitrary treatment by health practitioners, a gap between Roma and non-Roma in rates of coverage by health insurance, and discrimination against Roma in the job market. There were no Roma in elected office and an extremely limited number worked in any capacity in public administration. The Ministry of Labor, Social Protection, and Family opposed regarding Roma as a vulnerable group for the purpose of social inclusion policy.

In Transnistria, authorities continued to discriminate against Romanian speakers. While the use of the Latin alphabet is forbidden by the Transnistrian "constitution," and reading/writing in the Latin script is punishable by a fine of approximately 480 lei ($40.50), the extent of enforcement of this rule was unknown. However, as part of the 1992 ceasefire agreement, Transnistrian authorities allowed eight Latin-script Romanian-language schools (five high schools and three elementary schools) under the Moldovan Ministry of Education to operate in Transnistria. Approximately 7,700 children in the region attended these eight schools. According to media reports, Transnistrian authorities claimed--without presenting evidence--that the figure was much lower and that attendance levels dropped in recent years.

Students and teachers from Grigoriopol commuted daily to the Romanian script school Stefan cel Mare's temporary premises in Dorotcaia. Aside from the difficult commute, since the start of the school year, Transnistrian authorities regularly stopped buses with teachers and 200 pupils at the "border" for lengthy identification checks, resulting in delays in the school program and stress to children and staff.