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Czech Republic: Roma seek scholarships for secondary education, plan to become architects, computer experts, doctors and police

21.7.2016 11:04
Sára Pálíková, a Romani student at a secondary school for education in the Czech Republic, will focus on after-school and pre-school pedagogy. (PHOTO: Jana Baudyšová)
Sára Pálíková, a Romani student at a secondary school for education in the Czech Republic, will focus on after-school and pre-school pedagogy. (PHOTO: Jana Baudyšová)

Friday, 15 July was last day for Romani pupils in the Czech Republic to apply to the ROMEA organization for a scholarship to attend either an academic or vocational high school. A total of 107 people applied and the 60 most-successful candidates will be awarded support.

A three-member selection commission will decide who will receive the scholarships at the beginning of August. The project is implemented by ROMEA with support from the Danish VELUX Foundations.

"We are very glad there is such interest in the first year of this scholarship program. We are familiarizing ourselves in detail with the situations of the individual applicants, their dreams and plans for study, and we can see a hopeful generation of young Romani men and women is now coming of age who
have a lot to show for themselves," said Jitka Votavová, manager of the scholarship program.

Each application included information not just about the student's activities and grades, but also about the student's background and social situation. In addition to a report card, each applicant provided a solemn declaration of Romani nationality and documentation of extracurricular activities, such as participation in various competitions or hobby clubs.

Applicants also wrote essays about their motivation to study and why education is important to them. "My parents raised us not to judge a person by his or her religion, skin color, etc. I share that opinion, but the older I get the more I realize that most people are of the opposite opinion. They judge us at first glance, without knowing anything about us. I would like to attempt to change this conviction by graduating from college and showing them that skin color has no influence on a person's abilities," one applicant wrote in her essay.

The project offers more than just a scholarship. Other activities for the grantees will be organized as well. 

"We will meet with the grantees over the course of the year for weekend events where they will be able to learn something and also get to know Romani college students and other successful Romani figures. If necessary, we will also offer opportunities for internships and tutoring," Votavová explained.

Future Romani architects, doctors, police officers

Applicants have chosen many different fields of study. In addition to the fields of education and social work, they are interested in becoming computer scientists, police officers, or in studying at university to become architects and doctors.

"I chose the Police Academy, majoring in security law, because I like the work police officers do, it's a praiseworthy activity, although it's also challenging and often underappreciated," a young Romani man from the Zlín Region wrote in his application. For more information, visit the scholarship program's website,

ROMEA, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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