FinnAgora organized on the 9th of May a seminar on employment and education of the Roma youth in Hungary and in Finland. The seminar was organized in cooperation with Romaversitas Alapítvány foundation and its chair Boglárka Fedorkó, who also was one of the speakers at the seminar. The other Hungarian expert was assistant professor Fanni Székely-Trendl from Pécs. Our Finnish guest was the well-known roma influencer Leif Hagert, who last year received the title of Young European of the year. We also had a video greeting from the Finnish Roma Association.
Attendees for the seminar were members of various Roma associations, Roma members of parliament, representatives from educational institutes and an ombudsman for the rights of national minorities.
In the seminar the opportunities in employment and education for Roma youth was discussed from many perspectives and the qualified presentations inspired an active conversation. In Hungary the Roma people face many challenges and these challenges are met with different solutions such as specific education programs for Roma youth. There was an active discussion on how sufficient these education programs have been and are today.
Leif Hagert spoke of the employment problems of the Roma youth in Finland. The problems start already in high-school when Roma children can’t even get a short two-week internship due to prejudice. We Finns who are not Roma were shocked to hear this. The attendees at the seminar were very interested in hearing of the experiences and solution models of the Finnish Roma. The different models and practices in Finland and Hungary were compared.
In Hungary the Roma are the country's largest minority. According to official figures there are about 600 000 - 700 000 Roma in Hungary, but it is estimated the number is much higher.
FinnAgora received positive feedback on organizing the event and there were wishes to have other seminars in the future related to Roma matters. Many of the attendees thanked FinnAgora for being a neutral organizer which makes it easier to have an open conversation. We organizers were left grateful for such a warmhearted event, and motivated to continue the collaboration that was started and the conversation.