REF Board Meets in Budapest March 1 and 2

The REF Board met in Budapest on March 1 and 2, 2006. All the Board members were present. The Board session was chaired by Costel Bercus. The Board approved 12 projects committing an additional Euro 2,100,000.

The Board approved its two first “programmatic” grants for Croatia and Hungary. In the programmatic approach, the REF finances only a share of a large set of activities involving Government and other partners from the civil society and the donor community. The whole program is co-financed by government and is an integral part of a national strategy for improving education outcomes for the Roma. The Board also approved its first project outside of the decade countries, in Bosnia&Herzegovina. The project supports a number of Roma student to study in mainstream schools through financial and in-kind support, including tutorial and after school activities. The Board reviewed and endorsed the REF approach on REF country strategies. It reviewed in particular the draft country strategy for Serbia. The Board approved a two years communication strategy and a six months program of technical assistance and policy development. These activities are separate from the REF grant, they will be identified and in most cases implemented by REF and represent about 10% of its expenditures. They are necessary to ensure that REF also addresses some of the important policy issues and some of the need for advocacy, especially with large European institutions. The Board also approved the idea of organizing a large conference on Roma Education in November 2006 in order to increase the momentum for education reform favorable to Roma inclusion. Finally the Board reviewed the draft 2005 annual report and selected an Audit firm.”