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Camp for School Study Hall Students (2008.08.17.)

A camp was organised for a total of 150 multiply disadvantaged children from the north of the country within the framework of the School Study Hall Program with the help of EU funding. Primary and secondary school students mainly have the opportunity to engage in identity-strengthening workshops during this one-week long camp. 

János Dógi, director of the School Study Hall managed by the Gypsy Self-government of Gyömaendrõd said that instead of calls announced by the Ministry, it would be better to set up 8-10 camps under the management of the Public Foundation for Roma in Hungary (Magyarországi Cigányokért Közalapítvány) or the Hungarian National Foundation for Recreation (Magyar Nemzeti Üdülési Alapítvány). In his view, it would be important to set up a system enabling school study halls to apply on the grounds of the number of participating children, instead of the number of camps organised. This is relevant, since minority self-governments are currently only able to provide 200,000 HUF to finance a camp for 20 children.   

According to János Dógi, these institutions could also function as training centres in winter or during the off-season, hence in part ensuring their long-term financial maintenance. In the opinion of Mihály Dancs, head of the Roma Civic Rights Movement in Borsod and manager of a school study hall in Sátoraljaújhely integrating 50 children, one camp should be set up in each region where, regardless of their social status, Roma and non-Roma children could jointly take part in camp activities during school holidays to get to know each other’s culture. In his view, it would also be possible to reduce discrimination with the help of development teachers.     

As Mr Dógi told me, the results of the research he conducted demonstrate that prejudice begins to form during primary school and not in kindergarten, which has an impact on the choice of secondary school and its completion. This will also resonate in the future in the world of employment. According to the camp director, 2-3000 Roma students manage to go to camps, which in his view is a low number, and is mainly attributable to how school teachers are not very willing to work with Gypsy students during the school holidays.    

Norbert Káló, program coordinator of the Bhim Rao Association in Szendrõlád said that the key objective of the School Study Hall project bearing the title "Chest – the Key is in your Hands" is to provide an opportunity for intellectual development and self-development, as well as fostering, preserving and developing Roma cultural values. According to the program coordinator, student groups and communities in which disparities between various social groups disappeared were formed over the past two years. A significantly higher number of students opt to continue their educational career with the help of this program, and their integration into the secondary education system has been made easier by setting up a mentoring system.   

This year, the Bhim Rao Association is able to send 50 of its students to a camp with the help of EU funding made available within the framework of the Human Resource Development Operational Program (HRDOP). Alongside cultural programs and excursions, crafts, motivation and media workshops will be organised for students. 

The camp, which began on Tuesday and ends next Wednesday and during the course of which intensive workshops are also being organised, is taking place in Dombrád, Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County; children integrated in EU-funded school study hall programs are taking part in this camp. According to program managers, a more comprehensive system should be set up to ensure the opportunity for several thousands of multiply disadvantaged children to take part in summer workshops and camps on equal footing.