Budapest, January 26 (MTI) – The minister of human resources has said that it is not a problem if only Roma kids attend a particular school. But whatever the case, they should be afforded a proper level of education, he added.
In an interview to news website vs.hu published on Monday, Zoltan Balog said only a badly intentioned reading of the public education law passed at the end of last year could discern any legitimisation of school segregation.
A government decree currently in the making aims to ensure that someone cannot be kept at a disadvantage even behind the facade of a school run by a church or national minority. “On the contrary, it will be obligatory for them add something extra,” he said. It will be determined precisely what kind of extra teaching services must be provided as well as detailed regulations for guarantees in such cases, the minister added.
Referring to an all-Roma school in Nyiregyhaza, in the poor eastern region of Hungary, he said the school was an “absolute exceptional case” and regulations should not be based on its example.
The local council-run school was first forced to close in 2007 under pressure by the Foundation for Disadvantaged Children. It was reopened in 2011 after the council transferred it to the Greek Catholic church for free. A local appeals court ruled last November that the church-run school which exclusively caters to Roma pupils must abandon new uptakes from the next academic year.
Balog said that if someone can operate such a school and add an extra dimension to teaching there, it would be “stupid” to close it down simply because it is in the middle of a Roma catchment area. Further, doing so would go against the will of parents who send their kids there and would be against their rights. Closing the school down would also harm the interests of the children who receive far greater care and attention than a central school with hundreds of pupils attending could provide, Balog added.
In the interview conducted in mid-January, the minister said the practice of free choice currently permitted in Hungary goes against the government’s desire to see kids from different backgrounds studying together. But it is important that schools in weaker, disadvantageous position should also receive extra teaching resources to make them more attractive and effective, Balog said.
He said there was a serious debate going on within the government about whether flexibility in the rules is needed in relation to schools in the state sector in underdeveloped regions. The minister said he came out in favour of divergent rules on a regional basis.