Ms Katalin Langerné Victor, Deputy State Secretary for Social Inclusion of the Government of Hungary addressed the International Conference on “Roma People in Europe – Pastoral Care and Social Integration”, organized on April 7 by the Hungarian Embassy to the Holy See.
Some excerpts from her speech.
|Deputy State Secretary Langerné with a Roma folk art designed dress|
(Foto: Klára Várhelyi)
During the last decades a lot of different programmes have been put in place in Hungary, like in other countries, in order to improve living conditions of Roma people, helping them to find a stable settlement and to participate in education and work. (…) For all these people the real changes, promising a long-term positive development, took place only after 2010.
The Roma community is the priority target group of the Hungarian National Social Inclusion Strategy which was adopted in 2011 based on scientific data. This is Europe's most comprehensive program already in the phase of implementation, and it is no coincidence that all EU countries consider it as a model and have been creating their own program based on ours. The main areas of intervention of our strategy cover education, housing, employment, health and of course Christian pastoral care. (…)
This is the first time that in Hungary there is a governmental policy about Roma people, monitored regularly on a yearly basis. Since 2010 the government has been preparing every year a report about the Action Plan, looking into whether the resources had been planned properly and whether these reached the poor, the disadvantaged, the Roma. (…) The Action Plan defines tasks for all segments of Hungarian public administration as well as the organisations of education, science and advocacy with the participation of the members of the Roma community at all levels of the procedures.
Roma people had never before had the chance like now to participate in shaping their own destiny since there has been a Roma policy and integration in Hungary. Members and organizations of the Roma community participate in every detail of the programmes. (…)
Another unique Hungarian feature is the complete system of Roma integration programs in the field of education covering from the smallest childhood to university programs, which has been built up in order to foster employability and prepare for the future. As an example, with a view to helping early childhood development, the kindergarten is compulsory from 3 years of age, and thanks to this measure more than 90% of Roma children participate regularly in kindergarten activities, which makes that Hungary’s statistics in this field are among the best.
We have been operating a dozen of catch-up programs helping real development at all levels of public education. Another unique Hungarian achievement is that we have altogether seven Christian and four non-religious Roma Special Colleges with several hundreds of students, whose integration and university studies are helped by Roman and Greek Catholics, as well as Reformed and Lutheran communities. These Roma Special Colleges provide also intense pastoral care with the perspective of educating future Christian Roma intellectuals ready for cooperation and dialogue. (…)
The other change is a particular Hungarian solution: following the joint initiative of the Churches and the government, the Hungarian Christian communities take a practical and active part in the common activities. The Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference has a responsible for Roma pastoral care. Roma rapporteurs have been appointed also by our brother Protestant churches, who also work in pastoral care and help putting social inclusion into practice, in agreement with the Catholic Church. (…)
Churches, during their missionary activity, reach the members of Roma communities and make them discover the possibility to change their life. They offer pastoral care and orientation, motivating them to act to take steps towards a better life. This missionary activity can give way to authentic and positive Roma examples which are able to launch extraordinary processes both in the Roma community and in the majority society.