In Huszartelep local Roma insist their run-down school stays open

September 7, 2014


Huszartelep, a neighborhood in the northeastern Hungarian city of Nyíregyháza, recently underwent a HUF 490 million (USD 2.1 million) renovation, 94% of which was covered by EU development funds.  The only school operating in the neighborhood has been left out of the redevelopment plan, presumably due to an earlier court decision ruling that the school contributes to the segregation of the local Roma and should be closed.   Despite its poor physical condition, the school’s 65 students are reluctant to attend elementary school elsewhere in Nyíregyháza.

At his inauguration ceremony city mayor Ferenc Kovács (Fidesz)  stressed that the primary obejctive of the investment was to facilitate the integration of the local Roma community. Besides public areas, a nursery, a pre-school and a home for the elderly have been renovated, as well as the facade of 70 apartments and 12 as-yet uninhabited council housing units. Buildings housing a social care center, police and legal services have also been renovated.

A civil guard consisting of 16 local volunteers has been established to combat crime.  They will be helped in their work with a new camera surveillance system.

The local school was the only public institution left out of the development project, its future being uncertain in light of a court order issued in February stating that it should be closed because it contributes to the segregation of young Roma instead of helping them to integrate.

The Roma National Self-Government of Nyíregyháza as well as local civil guard president disagree with the ruling. According to its president Mrs. Miklós Csorba closing the only education facility in the neighborhood would be a mistake because the attitude of students has changed since the Greek Catholic Church took over its management.

Most of the families (Roma and non-Roma alike) in the settlement’s 2500-strong population support themselves through the local public works program. Parents get to decide whether they would enroll their children in the local school or in another elementary in Nyíregyháza also being managed by the same church. According to Mrs. Csorba this rules out the possibility of segregation.

Currently, there are 65 students in the settlement school.