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Early marriages remain a key factor causing Roma schoolgirls to drop out, but economic problems, migration and a lack of good schools also play a major role, a new UNICEF study says.

School attendance among Roma girls in Bulgaria has improved slightly while the number of early marriages and teenage mothers giving birth has dropped, a new study from the UN children’s organisation UNICEF says.

The number of Roma girls who married before the age of 18 shrank by 30 per cent between 2001 and 2011, the year of the last national census, according to the study.

Forty-five per cent of them finished primary education compared to 42 per cent ten years previously, showing that early marriage remains a primary factor in the school drop-out rate among Roma girls, but not the only one.

“Some of the major problems related to school drop-outs are the socio-economic status of the family, lack of financial resources, [the parents’] low educational status and lack of interest on the part of the parents,” the author of the study, Sofia Zahova, told BIRN.

According to Zahova, access to education for girls is also limited by the problems of the educational system, such as the lack of secondary schools in places where Roma, the low level of education in schools that only Roma attend, which demotivates students and parents, the lack of extracurricular activities and the overall devaluation of education in the country as a whole.

- See more at: http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/early-marriage-deters-lesser-roma-girls-from-school-in-bulgaria-02-22-2016#sthash.NvG7OVcn.dpuf