Kaltenbach: schools are not islands; integration is not just an educational issue

Schools are not islands, integration of Roma children is not solely the question of public education, integration of the Roma minority is also a matter for the majority society- said Jenõ Kaltenbach the Ombudsman for National and Ethnic Minorities of Hungary, on the Parliamentary session of the Commission for Education and Science, on 17. 04.

Representatives unanimously found disputable the annual summery of Jenõ Kaltenbach, from 2006.
Schools are institutions that are embedded in society, thus efforts for integrating Roma must reach outside the school buildings. Segregation is a societal phenomenon, the presence of separation in educational institutions is the reflection of the social problem - said Kaltenbach.
According to researchers’ estimations, in the next school year the number of Roma school aged children might reach 15 % of the total school-aged generation, that means approximately 140 000 children while apparently there are 178 primary schools with the majority of students are Roma. Representatives, regardless their political obligations defined by the parties they belong to, warned about the importance of joint social and political forces besides educational programs, that are equally important for the successful social integration of Roma.
According to Kaltenbach, the possibility of Roma assimilation is sheer illusion. He said the only “visible minority group” of Hungary are the Roma, that is why they are oftentimes unable to dissolve and mingle amongst the majority society.
The ombudsman, who had his last talk in front of the Commission, warned his audience about the real aim, which was to integrate Roma with allowing them to keep their Roma identity.