“The countries of the Visegrád Group (V4) are placing particular emphasis on developing a fair education system, on creating opportunities for talented Roma students, and on measures aimed at helping them enter and remain in higher education. The number of young Roma in higher education had doubled in Hungary during the past three years”, Minister of State for Social Affairs and Inclusion Károly Czibere said at the V4 conference entitled “The Participation of Roma Youth in Higher Education in the Visegrád Countries in Light of the EU Framework for Roma Integration Strategy”.

In his speech, Mr. Czibere stressed that one of the priority goals of the Hungarian National Social Inclusion Strategy is to reduce the number of school dropouts and to facilitate equal opportunities for disadvantaged students. The so-called Road Map, or action plan, was jointly developed by the fields of education and inclusion, and includes interventions aimed at increasing school success among Roma students and measures introduced in the interests of facilitating school desegregation.

The Minister of State presented the Government’s programme to reduce premature school leaving, including the Education Office’s 12.9 billion forint (EUR 41 million) comprehensive development programme to reduce the number of school dropouts. The continuing training of 1800 teachers and the development of 30 thousand disadvantaged or multiply disadvantaged students will be realised within the framework of the EU-funded project. Among successful programmes, he mentioned the over 280 special schools that are involved in the complex personal development and compensating the disadvantages of some 9000 students, the two billion forint (EUR 6.4M) programme aimed at reducing the ration of early school leaving among Roma girls, in which 1500 Roma schoolgirls will be included within the next two years, and the Roma Professional College Network that has been established in the interests of training Roma academics to help build a common future. Roma Professional Colleges, which operate in conjunction with higher education institutions, play a priority role in social inclusion, and in training and realising the social mobility of the Roma intelligentsia. In addition, this year the Government is running a 230 million forint scholarship programme to help disadvantaged children acquire diplomas. The “Road to a Degree” scholarship programme is helping some 1000 students to fund their extra expenses arising from their disadvantaged position and to help them avoid having to leave school.

At the conference, the countries of the Visegrád Group (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) set the joint target of enabling as many young Roma as possible to enter higher education and acquire diplomas. They agreed that the member states must provide incentives for Roma students to take part in higher education, thus reducing early school leaving and social exclusion.

(Ministry of Human Capacities)