MINELRES: Fwd: Hungary: Classroom segregation endures despite extra government funding

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Sat Jan 5 11:25:50 2008

Original sender: Roma Virtual Network <romale@zahav.net.il>

Classroom segregation endures despite extra gov't funding - paper

Budapest, January 3 (MTI) - Hungary's government has thrown a
considerable amount of money at local schools struggling to eradicate
Roma classroom segregation, but results so far suggest the problem is
deep-rooted and not easily solved, said national daily Nepszabadsag on

Sociologists suggest that the extra funds available for schools in
disadvantaged regions could be a part of the continuing problem.

Schools taking part in the government's so-called integration programme,
thereby qualifying for extra funding, end up stigmatised. Middle-class
parents withdraw their children, sending them to better schools
elsewhere. This, of course, defeats the purpose of integrating
disadvantaged children with their mainstream peers.

Forty teachers were interviewed from 45 schools. "The picture is
shocking," said Szilvia Nemeth, a sociologist involved in the study.

One researcher who interviewed teachers taking part in the integration
programme described how teachers often threw their hands up in despair,
saying it was impossible to teach such "material" -- referring to poor
children, usually Roma, with a range of background problems.

The schools involved are required to adopt new teaching methods and make
sure classrooms have an even mix of children with different abilities
and attainments. Even in the better schools, teachers do not believe in
what they are asked to do.

Nemeth said some schools only take part in the programme to secure extra
funding of 61,500 forints per pupil per year. These schools are so poor
that they apply for a range of often conflicting programmes in order to
secure extra income.

In some cases these schools try to attract as many poor and
disadvantaged children as possible in order to secure a better financial
situation. As far as the actual goals are concerned, the schools pay lip
service to incorporating new teaching methods and integrating pupils,
the researchers found.

Overburdened teachers were often unable to answer the question put to
them: what is integrational education, and in some instances classroom
segregation was the norm in schools receiving the extra funds. Part of
the reason is that parents from disadvantaged backgrounds actually
wanted teachers to be tough on their children and to stick to a more
traditional front-of-class teaching style.

One local mayor told Attila Z. Papp, a researcher with the Educational
Research Council that carried out the study, that segregation was the
only solution.

Gabor Daroczi, a former government commissioner for Roma integration,
told the paper, "There is every chance of integration if local society
looks favourably on the programme. It is sad but true that the majority
of society has a big demand for segregation."

Source: English - Hungarian News Agency Corp.
 MTI Rt. 2002. All rights

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