SLOVAKIA will be able to obtain at least Sk6.5 billion in EU funds over the next few years to help the poorest Roma, Deputy Prime Minister Dušan Čaplovič announced on March 26, after a regular cabinet meeting. At the session ministers adopted a concept for Roma community development, the ČTK newswire wrote. However, according to earlier studies, Sk11 billion is needed just to build apartments for Roma currently living in ramshackle settlements. More money is required for better education.
The mid-term concept (2008-2013) is intended to improve the situation of marginalised Roma communities, the SITA newswire wrote. Education is regarded as crucial to improving their prospects, as poor education means Roma are often unable to find jobs. Čaplovič said that the Roma language should be used more during education. Other measures focus on younger children, with the aim of allowing them to achieve a better education.
The government is also proposing another way of reducing the high unemployment rate among Roma: by employing them in so-called social companies and farms to be run by local municipalities.
There is no exact figure of the Roma population in Slovakia. Their number is estimated to be around 320,000, though fewer than 90,000 people identified themselves as Roma during the last national census.
31. Mar 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports