Romani Students Propel Themselves Forward, Aiming to Further Their Education
On 29 June some of the Romani students applying for scholarships of the Roma Education Fund (REF) were interviewed in Prague, the Czech Republic. A panel of five evaluated the students, selecting the most qualified as recipients of scholarships to continue their education.
Last year REF supported 35 Romani students through its scholarship program. Many of the students applying have just completed high school and aim to pursue a Bachelor’s degree at university.
College graduates can also apply in order to continue their Master's, PhD, or other degree programs. REF has designed the scholarship program to help students who are highly qualified but may not have the financial means to pursue the education they desire.
The scholarship can be used to cover travel to and from university, fees, and necessary supplies such as textbooks. The NGO wants to create a support system for bright Romani students who need financial aid.
The scholarship program is a great opportunity for students who want to further their education. Student Marie Brendzová came to ROMEA with confidence, saying she was not nervous about her scholarship interview.
“I want to apply to private school, the private university,”she explained. Brendzová said she wanted to pursue a degree in International Relations because “I already studied for a Bachelor’s in International Relations, so I just want to continue my studies.”
Denisa Maková, who also works for ROMEA coordinating tutoring for the students, is a Romani university student who is extremely proud of her identity as a Romani woman who has pursued her education. She said she feels “it is very important for Roma to be confident in their identities because sometimes they are the only Roma in their classes. When I saw other Romani students, it helped me feel not alone. We motivate and support each other. So these scholarships are more than just giving money, it has many positive consequences.”
“We are investing our money into building a new generation of educated Roma," Maková said. "Many Czechs complain that giving these scholarships is not fair, but it is not true, because without this money, many Roma would not have the opportunity to pursue their education.”
A total of 49 elligible applications were accepted this year. The scholarship application process was completely free for students who wanted to apply, with REF covering the costs of the students' travel to Prague for the interviews. In addition to these scholarship opportunities, REF offers educational courses and ROMEA tutoring programs for Romani students.
At the end of August the NGO plans to prepare educational workshops for around 40 to 50 Romani students to develop their communication and presentation skills. Richard Samko, a Romani television reporter for the public broadcaster, Czech Television, will give the students insight into the workings of the media, such as how to conduct interviews and create reportage.
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