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CHEST-"The Key is in your Hands" School Study Hall Program

CHEST-"The Key is in your Hands" School Study Hall Program 

The School Study Hall Program was launched in Szendrőlád in 2006 by integrating 50 upper grade disadvantaged primary school students. Educational activities were organised with the help of five teachers, one social worker and one computer assistant. The program’s aim was to improve the knowledge level of students taking part in the program by a 40% margin.
Factors justifying the need for the School Study Hall Program:


The micro-region of Edelény is one of the most under-developed regions in the country. Its exceptionally high level of unemployment, ageing population, low level of education, migration of qualified young graduates and 22% Roma population, reaching over 50% in some settlements are indicators underpinning its highly disadvantaged status. This degree of under-development has come to form a vicious circle in these settlements today and it is now difficult to recognise what the original causes and consequences are. These factors reinforce one another to form a downward spiral. It is not possible to break out of this situation by implementing isolated developments. Major developments carried out in connection with basic infrastructures, which, however, are still not sufficient, were incapable of engendering socio-economic rise. This region needs to be placed on an entirely alternative development path. The potential lack of resources largely tying in with the region’s severe level of under-development determine conditions underlying the region’s economic development and in turn problems inhibiting the potential to break out of this situation. These in part stem from its declining and ageing population and in part from polarization in respect of its population and low level of education.   .
According to our experiences over the past years, very few gypsy students in the Micro-region of Edelény manage to win entry into high-schools offering matriculation. There is an exceptional high drop-out rate among those that do. Nearly 90% of these students drop out during the first or second year.
The main reason for this is that family members have only managed to complete primary school and that they live in a difficult financial situation, e.g., the parents are unable to purchase bus passes for their children; children experience adjustment problems in school; young people tend to marry early and are consequently forced to work.

Gypsy families living in the micro-region live in difficult social circumstances.
Over 90% of the active adult population is unemployed. They largely make ends meet by undertaking seasonal agricultural work, which is supplemented by social benefits.


Specific objectives to be reached with the help of the School Study Hall Program:
One specific objective is to support the academic achievement of students integrated in this program through the services we provide and for career starters to obtain marketable professions and qualifications, hence improving their employment chances. This also serves as an example for and motivates young people – both in the settlement and the region - that are not integrated in this program. Qualified labour power lures commercial and service-related investments and concurrently strengthens community cohesion, which in turn engenders community initiatives through the strengthening of the students’ identity. Equal opportunity is enforced in the domain of education and employment through the provision of quality services; therefore, there is less chance for these people to become victims of discrimination. Through this initiative, the human resource capacities of organisations strengthen and develop professionally and, by extending the organisation’s infrastructure, the organisation is capable of implementing large-scale community programs, whilst also serves as a regional model for other communities and non-profit organisations active in other regions. Professional educational components provided for students integrated in the School Study Hall program include the following:

- Activities aimed at strengthening the personality of students;
- Educational activities and personal development adjusted to the specific needs of students; developing their talent in line with their abilities and interest; setting up self-help groups;  
- Strengthening the identity and awareness of students by fostering traditions and language;
Activities directly supporting further education; providing career counselling during the school year before the students embark on secondary education; organising family and school visits; helping students obtain the information, knowledge and skills they need for choosing a career; 
- Developing and implementing ability-development programs;
Beyond organising extra-curricular activities helping students to achieve in school, ability development, such as, developing democratic cooperation or communication skills, is also prioritised.
- Developing computer literacy and skills;
- Providing subject preparation support;
Moreover, we encourage the active involvement of school-mates and parents in the organisation of extra-curricular activities, which must be implemented in an integrated community context.