End to hypocritical Roma policy

Tom­i­slav Don­chev

Bul­gar­ia now has a Nation­al Roma Inte­gra­tion Strat­e­gy. For the first time the effort is agreed with 9 min­is­tries and dis­trict gov­ern­ors, who have to part­ner local­ly with rel­e­vant NGOs, are put in charge of its imple­men­ta­tion.

Bul­gar­ia now has a Nation­al Roma Inte­gra­tion Strat­e­gy. For the first time the effort is agreed with 9 min­is­tries and dis­trict gov­ern­ors, who have to part­ner local­ly with rel­e­vant NGOs, are put in charge of its imple­men­ta­tion.
Speak­ing of Roma inte­gra­tion, how­e­ver, we need to adhere to a rea­son­a­ble bal­ance between high con­cepts, stra­te­gic pol­i­cies and these peo­ple's par­tic­u­lar prob­lems. Includ­ing this minor­i­ty group into the coun­try's real life is a key issue for the Bul­gar­i­an gov­ern­ment. This is not a short-term pol­i­cy. We are fac­ing spe­cif­ic chal­len­ges at all lev­els. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it is a wide­ly-held belief that this inte­gra­tion has been trans­mit­ted top-down from Brus­sels and we have to com­ply with our part­ners' require­ments. It is a fact, though, that we can nev­er achieve tan­gi­ble progress unless this is a con­scious proc­ess and inner neces­si­ty.
Fol­low­ing dec­ades of efforts to this end, Bul­gar­ia can boast spe­cif­ic work­ing mod­els. The best results have been achieved in edu­ca­tion and health­care.
Every year, the gov­ern­ment ear­marks some BGN405,000 for pre­vent­ive screen­ing in set­tle­ments with minor­i­ty groups. 23 mobile med­i­cal offi­ces, pur­chased under the PHARE pro­gramme, are used for this pur­pose. In them, 11,465 free exam­i­na­tions and tests have been car­ried out in nine regions of the coun­try over just a year. More than 2,300 peo­ple have been diag­nosed with dis­eas­es. They have been referred to the rel­e­vant hos­pi­tals for fur­ther diag­nos­ing and treat­ment.
The Min­is­try of Edu­ca­tion also has a num­ber of good Roma inte­gra­tion pro­grammes. Full-day edu­ca­tion in schools deliv­ers con­sid­er­a­ble results. The bulk of the chil­dren in these schools belong to minor­i­ty groups. Pro­vid­ing trans­port, food and aft­er­noon class­es is a ben­e­fit for large fam­i­lies. This project involves 700 schools and has a budg­et of BGN180m for two years.
Also, a stu­dent rein­te­gra­tion pro­gramme has been launched. One of the big chal­len­ges is when Roma chil­dren that dropped out must return to class­rooms. They have lost a large part of their knowl­edge and need to catch up. For this pur­pose, there will be spe­cial assist­ant super­in­ten­dents. Some stu­dents will be allowed to switch to an indi­vid­u­al edu­ca­tion course. The pro­gramme has BGN6m fund­ing.
Yet, there is still work to be done in devel­op­ing a suc­cess­ful mod­el for inte­gra­tion of those peo­ple in the labour mar­ket. The great­est chal­len­ges are solv­ing issues relat­ed com­plete­ly to Roma peo­ple's dai­ly lives. And we still have a sig­nif­i­cant short­age of inte­gra­tion pol­i­cies - most often they involve a large por­tion of hypoc­ri­sy, but an end will be put to this.
Tom­i­slav Don­chev is Min­is­ter in charge of EU funds in Bulgaria

Similar articles