Highlights! ROMACT impact in Tundzha, Bulgaria

The ROMACT Programme began in Tundzha in October 2013, since then there have been many benefits to all citizens in our South-Eastern corner of Bulgaria.

The commitment of the Municipal administration combined with the support of the ROMACT Programme and the area Roma community has seen a Community Action Group (CAG) formed.  This united working group formed for the shared goal of improving access to education and employment with particular focus on young people (50% of the area Roma population are under 20 years old).

Free kindergarten for 3-6-year-old Roma children was begun in September 2015, to date 560 children have benefited from this programme.  This free kindergarten support ensures that all children in Tundzha receive the same support in the Bulgarian language, this measure was included in the Municipality Plan for Roma Integration.  This document includes needs defined by the CAG who meet regularly with the Municipality administration to discuss measures and needs of the Roma community in the area.

Another project that highlights the municipality commitment to support Roma community needs has been financed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and outlined in our Municipality Plan for Roma integration is an intervention that assists parents to become more involved in their children’s education.  With the help of Roma school mediators, 8 schools are participating on the programme to increase Roma parent’s engagement with their children’s schooling.  The Roma mediators assist children at school and also maintain regular one-to-one communication with parents and attend parental school clubs.  Results from this programme have seen an increase in parent’s confidence in education, Roma parents are beginning to see education as an opportunity to overcome social inequalities.  The interventions are also seeing a reduced absenteeism and dropout rates for Roma young people.  The municipality has also applied to EU Funded Operational Programmes for support for a pre-school education initiative and an access to employment programme.

Mayor Georgi Geioriev’s team and the CAG members are expecting great interest in an upcoming workshop in April 2016 on social entrepreneurship which is being supported by the ROMACT programme. The programme will include an exchange of experience with the city of Ghent and will offer the space for identifying the challenges hindering the sustainable development of the social economy in Bulgaria. The event will also brainstorm ways to support and encourage social entrepreneurship initiatives in Bulgarian municipalities.  This event marks one of the first activities in our new actions under the ROMACT Programme, all designed to enhance cooperation of municipalities from Western and Central Europe around initiatives and actions to support Roma inclusion.

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