This week SOLIDAR celebrated its annual Silver Rose Awards in the European Parliament in cooperation with the S&D Group and the Party of European Socialists (PES) and with media support from Euractiv. The award is an occasion to celebrate Civil Society Organisations and individuals whose extraordinary struggles contribute greatly to social justice and solidarity throughout the world.
The Award for the category Building Learning Societies went to the Romaversitas Foundation based in Budapest, Hungary. The Foundation, led by Director Henriett Dinók, aims to integrate Roma youth into society through educational programmes from secondary school towards higher education.
Roma children across Europe have continuously faced discrimination in the field of education, perpetuating their socio-economic status at the lowest end of the scale due to the barriers and prejudices against them. In Hungary, segregation in schools is a widespread and important issue, as the stigma attached to Roma children is so deeply ingrained that many parents and teachers prefer to separate their children from Roma pupils in schools.
“Often, the discrimination is so strong that many Roma children are put in schools and classes for children with special educational needs,” explains Henriett Dinók. The director is in charge of comprehensive support and training programmes for bright Roma pupils in Hungary, of which Dinók was a former student herself. Using her own experience, she works with the Foundation to improve access to quality education while supporting the Roma community in Hungary and in international fora.
A number of projects have been developed for secondary school programmes, programmes for university students and students’ initiatives. For example, the Romaversitas Foundation launched a secondary school programme in the school year 2014-15 with the Norwegian Civil Aid Fund. The aim of the programme was to deepen the active citizenship skills of Roma youth and help them gain access to higher education. Thirty students across Hungary participated in the programme and received tutoring throughout the academic year, language and other training courses that developed their skills, along with active citizenship training. All Roma students were helped by other Roma students and alumni.
“In many of our school programmes higher education students and our alumni support, train and mentor their younger peers during their journey towards academic-level studies.”
The programme was successfully launched and as a result 21 of the students went on to Higher Education, while ten students received the Romaversitas scholarship the following academic year, and five mentors were able to deepen their knowledge gained during the academic year and were trained in various NGOs in Hungary.
Other programmes include support for special training, career workshops, conflict management training for young adults and preparation for A-level exams in a broad range of topics.
The Romaversitas Foundation has helped 300 Roma students since its establishment. It is funded by the Soros-financed Open Society Foundation that awarded it New Executives Fund grants to support inclusive education.
Upon receiving the award this Tuesday at the European Parliament along with her colleague Pasko Ildiko, Henriett Dinók called for inclusive education and an inclusive society even among the most “exclusive society”. Referring to the upcoming European elections and the work the Romaversitas Foundation has done over the years, Dinók stated that “the most important thing we can teach our children is to raise their voices in matters that concern them and shape our future.”
SOLIDAR Foundation congratulates the award winner and supports the promotion of inclusive education through citizenship and lifelong learning education.
Read more about the work by the Romaversitas Foundation here.