Gábor Daróczi, director of Romaversitas Foundation
The impact on the Roma minority of social changes of post-socialism and the importance of educational strategies to future improvement.
The Roma of Eastern Europe have undergone seismic social changes in the last 20 years, brought on by the political changes of 1989 and the admission of most Eastern European countries into the European Union. The advent of democracy has allowed for the Roma community to develop politically and to raise its profile culturally, but for many Roma, this period has been disastrous: the end of state socialism has meant both the withdrawal of a robust social safety net and the end of the limitations on free speech and rigidly enforced state monopoly on violence that hid racial tensions under a veil of oppression. Meanwhile, state policies discriminating against Roma in law enforcement and education persist in both Eastern and Western Europe.
This presentation introduces these issues first through a brief survey of the history of European Roma, with an emphasis on the changes in the socialist and post-socialist periods. Personal histories from Hungary, particularly from the families of the presenters, will be used to illustrate broader trends. This is followed by a discussion of the role of IGOs, namely the EU, and NGOs like the Decade of Roma Inclusion project. Finally, the educational situation of Roma in Hungary both as a locus of problems and a laboratory of potential solutions is analyzed in detail.
Mr. Gábor Daróczi has been the director of Romaversitas Foundation since 2008. Before this position, he spent several years at different NGOs and in the governmental sector. He has started his career at the Hungarian Soros Foundation working with youth, Roma, and environment protection programs. Later, he worked for the Ministry of Health, the Office of the Prime Minster, the National Development Agency, and the Open Society Institute. He served for two years at the Ministry of Education as the ministerial commissioner responsible for the integration of Roma and disadvantaged children and initiated new programs and legal changes. He is one of the leaders in working on closing the educational gap between Roma children and those belonging to the majority in Hungary.
Mr. Daróczi is the youngest member of a Roma family with five children. His big family has many active members: some working in media, some in the educational system, and others as NGO workers. He carries on the tradition with his own large family; he is the father of a onr-year-old girl, stepfather of three children, and “honorary father” of the 51 young Roma scholarship students of the Romaversitas Foundation.