Czech Republic: Romani scholarship recipients study economics, history, IT, languages and medicine
Even though there are no official figures, a couple of hundreds of young Romani people are estimated to be studying at universities throughout the Czech Republic. Frequently they are the first people in their families ever to do so.
Therefore these students are often on their own when it comes to mastering the curriculum, even though they can also be aided by foundations or non-profit orgnanizations when it comes to finding extra help with the material. According to Yveta Kenety, a scholarship program coorindator, however, unfortunately even the achievement of a university degree is no guarantee for Romani people that they will succeed in the Czech Republic.
Kenety has described to the Czech tabloid Blesk.cz the story of a Romani college graduate who allegedly was not hired because the management of the school feared how parents might respond to having a Roma teacher. It may not have been the only reason for not getting the job but being a Romani certainly disadvanted him.
From most of applications submitted by Roma students applying for scholarships, there is one thing that shines through, and that is that Romani students want to escape their current environments and live better, different lives. They are very well aware that education is their escape route.
"They don't want to sit at home and wait for welfare, they want to make more money, to know a different life. Frequently we hear from them that they want to show society that Romani people are also successful, that they are just as good as everybody else. Sometimes those convictions are so strong that it's enough of a motivation for them, but they also have role models among their friends or older siblings," said Kenety, who is the coordinator of the scholarship program for Romani college students run by the Roma Education Fund as well as the ROMEA organization's scholarship program for secondary school students.
Roma Education Fund received about 80 applications from Roma university students for scholarships this year in the Czech Republic, while ROMEA registered over 100 applications from Roma secondary school students. The scholarships are merit-based and the students must perform well in school in order to maintain the scholarship. They must also do some community work and cooperate with their local Roma NGOs.
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