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More than 40 future Roma professionals received academic scholarships from the Roma Education Fund
30-11-2012 - Romea

Romani university students who won scholarships from the Roma Education Fund (Photo: Jana Šustová) On Thursday, November 29, Prague’s theater D 21 hosted a mid-afternoon gala to recognize Romani university students who won scholarships from the Roma Education Fund (REF) for the academic year 2012/2013. In its thirteenth year, the Roma Memorial University Scholarship Program (RMUSP) supports 44 Romani students in the Czech Republic in 2012 and has spent well over two million Euros on scholarships across the region since its establishment.

REF’s Scholarship Program aims to build Roma educational achievements in higher education and provide essential assistance that allows recipients to complete their studies. The program works to build a network of Romani professionals and promotes Roma inclusion in all aspects of the national education systems of countries participating in the Roma Decade.

Dan Pavel Doghi (Photo: Jana Šustová) "REF provides four schemes of scholarship programs in the sixteen countries. In the previous academic year there were granted around 1400 scholarships in all scholarships schemes," stated Higher Education Program Manager of REF Dan Pavel Doghi.

REF’s Scholarship Gala was designed to recognize these future Romani professionals for their achievements so far while also publicly acknowledging their Romani heritage. Romani university students also debated and shared experiences with REF representatives as well as Czech Television’s Roma reporter, Richard Samko.

Filip Sivák (Photo: Jana Šustová) Behalf of students spoke Filip Sivák 2nd grade student of Czech Technical University. The gala was be moderated by journalist Jarmila Balážová, chairwoman of ROMEA, underlining that Romani students should have the same opportunities for study, careers, and social advancement as any other student.

The presidential candidate Jan Fischer also came to support the student and stressed that each proud nation needs to have its educated elite. "For every nation and community is extremely important to create elite. The state is in this respect very much indebted to Roma, and I do not mean just financially, but in its approach, its activity or better to say passivity. "As important marked also the attitude toward minorities, ensure their dignified life and the respect for them.

(Photo: Jana Šustová) Finally presidential candidate discussed with the students and appealed to the importance of their personal example: "This is a very good project, there is a big chance. Continue, even if it is difficult to finance, the organization of all activities, on your time and efforts, keep up in it. I would like to wish you to be succesful in your studies and ambitions, so it ended well and you could send your example message to other young. "

Czech society so far has regarded Roma in higher education as anomalies. However, these current students prove that higher education is not solely the domain of the majority; some scholarship students have been supported by REF scholarship program during their entire course of studies.

Stanislav Daniel (Photo: Jana Šustová) Stanislav Daniel, Education Officer REF responded: "It happens quite often that if there is any support aimed directly at Roma, is met with negative reactions, as it is a positive discrimination or discrimination against the majority. On the other hand, we have to in our daily work reflect the historical disadvantage of Roma and also our scholarship program is certain answer to it. REF support sspecifically Roma that is not a coincidence, it is the support of which ultimately will benefit the whole society. It does not change only the position of the Roma, but also the position of the whole society. "

(Photo: Jana Šustová) In the Czech Republic, the administration of RMUSP is assisted by the ROMEA civic association.

REF Scholarship Program offers merit-based open competition academic scholarships for eligible Romani students at the university level (BA, MA, or PhD) in the Czech Republic since 2005. The gala will introduce prospective Roma professionals and encourage them in their careers ahead.

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