This is integration

September 16th, 2008 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

Amidst a BBC report on Roma migration in Europe is this note on education policy in Hungary, which :

In Hungary, an earlier policy to give money to schools for the mentally disabled, to which a disproportionate number of Roma were sent, was abandoned when it was realised that it encouraged segregation.Now funds are focused on mainstream schools which accept more Roma – though they impose limits of 25% Roma in a class.

There’s a lot to note in this excerpt, and the article more generally, but I’m particularly interested in how integration works. Segregation is seen as problematic (though we’re not told for which reasons in this case) and integration is now favoured. However, this is only in cases where the number of Roma in a class is kept low enough that it is the Roma children who must acclimatize to ‘mainstream’ society. The notion that a non-Roma child might be placed in a majority-Roma setting (or even a setting with more than 1/4 Roma children) is viewed as so appalling a prospect that it is prevented by government policy.

Later in the article mention is made of the problems for parents and Roma communities when schools in Roma-majority villages are closed, with children being bused out of their communities:

But in far-flung villages with a majority Roma population, Roma and non-Roma parents alike are upset when local schools close and children are bussed off each day to towns.

The links between the parents and the schools are broken.

An alternative policy, supported by opposition parties, would be to improve the facilities and standard of teaching in existing schools.

I should mention that my mother is engaged in research on parental involvement in education among the Irish Traveller community, and this article seems (to me) to provide some interesting parallels to some of her initial findings.

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