20 SEPTEMBER 1969, Page 32

Teachers for the gypsies Sir: I would be grateful if

you would pro- vide the hospitality of your columns for an appeal for the gypsy children of the South- East.

Thanks to recent publicity, many people have become aware of some of the difficulties of our wandering population. Public, if not official, sympathy is gradu- ally being aroused.

There is, however, a more urgent prob- lem. While no proper research has been done, for obvious reasons, it is estimated that about 80 per cent of gypsy children are illiterate. They are the responsibility of no local authority, since they travel from one area to another, and their parents are faced with the alternative of abandoning their whole way of life for the sake of their children's education, or accepting that moss of their children will have to do without.

This problem could be tackled immedia tely for those within a fifty mile radius of London by a small group of volunteer teachers. We propose, very tentatively, that contact should be made with the gypsy groups through the Gypsy Council, and a teacher introduced to the group. The teacher would then travel out within a fifty mile radius of London at weekends, to teach the children of the group. This work would have to be voluntary, since any efforts to raise funds could not hope at first to do more than pay the expenses of the volunteers.

I would be most grateful if any qualified teacher who would be willing to take part in such a scheme would contact me personally.