Controversial Segregated Private School Approved after Election of Non-Romani Minority Representatives in Hungary

On October 22, 2002, the Budapest-based Roma Press Center (RSK) reported that, at the elections of the local government and Roma Self-Government, held on October 17, 2002, non-Romani voters elected Ms Gabriella Makai Dankóné, the wife of Mayor István Dankó, and three other non-Romani representatives into the new Roma Self-Government in Jászladány, Szolnok County. Only one member of the five-member Roma Self-Government is non-Romani. Roma in the area unsuccessfully appealed the results of the Roma Self-Government elections. Mayor Dankó, who had previously attempted to open a private school in the town, allegedly intended to segregate Romani pupils, was also re-elected, enabling him to again proceed with attempts to open the school. On January 15, 2003, the RSK informed the ERRC that funds for the private school were no longer available, so the school would not open for the time being. Mayor Dankó's attempt to open a private school, which would create a segregated educational environment for children in the village, had initially been thwarted by the veto of the previous Roma Self-Government, dominated by Romani representation. According to a November 21, 2002 RSK report, however, on October 18, 2002, the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County Court decided in favour of the Jászladány local government, in its bid to open a private school (background information on the controversial school is available at:

- Private School in Hungary Declared Unlawful and

- Ombudsman Finds Discrimination against Roma in Education in Hungary ). At a November 9, 2002 statutory meeting of the recently elected Roma Self-Government of Jászladány, Ms Dankóné, president of the Roma Self-Government, confirmed support for the private school, RSK reported on November 12, 2002.

On October 4, 2002, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) commented that a survey conducted among Hungarian students by the Kurt Lewin Foundation during the 2000/2001 school year revealed that strong prejudices against Roma exist in Hungary. Thirty-two percent of one thousand, five hundred Hungarian secondary school students surveyed expressed racial prejudice towards the Romani minority, while only 8 percent of 17-year-olds did not harbour racist attitudes towards Roma. RFE/RL reported that, according to the survey, 75 percent of the students interviewed would not befriend Roma.
 

(ERRC, RFE/RL, RSK)

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